P R I N C I P L E S
"What is the city but the people?"
C O N V E R S A T I O N S
Our best dialogues are—
Small is good. Many of our most meaningful dialogues happen in smaller spaces & groups.
Smart but not pretentious. We value curiosity, inquiry & critical thinking.
We value open doors, open hearts & open minds. Diverse perspectives & underrepresented voices.
V A L U E S
Some of the beliefs & ideas that guide our work—
Quality over quantity
We care less about how many people are in the room than how many people are engaged & excited to be there.
DIVERSITY is NOT OPTIONAL
We take seriously that our presenters & guests reflect the demographics of whatever place we're in.
Safe is boring
We like daring questions, courageous thinkers, alternative approaches, and brave ideas that challenge the status quo.
THINKING IS GOOD
We welcome big questions & divergent conversations on the way to solutions & outcomes.
We're suspicious of quick fixes, easy answers & silver bullets.
Hail to the seekers! We welcome people who are open to listening, learning & expanding their minds.
Smart & accessible
We think urban theory & practice can often be too academic, jargony & intimidating.
We want to translate ideas for a general audience and help make city-building more democratic.
HEAD & HEART
Sometimes civic professionals are too much in their heads. Feelings & emotions matter, too.
We aspire to be welcoming, friendly & helpful for longtimers, newcomers & visitors alike.
WE CAN HANDLE Honesty
We believe in being real about a city's needs & challenges. We don't believe honesty kills passion or pride of place.
Our guests want to be challenged and don't want to sweep blemishes under the rug.
We can handle difficult truths. We can do hard things.
Environment MAKES A DIFFERENCE
We wither under fluorescent lights. We prefer warm, comfortable places to unplug, slow down & sit awhile.
Historic spaces are important to connect us to the past as we imagine & shape the future.
relationships ARE EVERYTHING
Events may be ephemeral, but connections can last a lifetime.
Cities with stronger social cohesion are more resilient.
O U R P L A C E
Where we sit in the civic engagement & development space—
We see ourselves as a bridge between economic development & social justice.
Also a place to build trust & understanding between longtimers & newcomers.
We seek to find common ground around shared urban values.
Our core audience is passionate about creating more sustainable, equitable & just cities.
We are not anti-growth, but pro-conscientious growth.
We are suspicious of false binaries.
As Jane Jacobs said, "The point of cities is multiplicity."
We believe in building stronger local economies and elevating & supporting local talent.
We believe in investing in small-scale, community-driven projects.
We believe a city's most valuable asset is its people.
We want more people to feel a part their city's growth & change and see themselves in the narrative.
Q U O T E S
"Let us all be from somewhere. Let us tell each other everything we can."
"Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise."
"There's a commandment of urban life that can be a tremendous source of happiness—thou shall share space."
“Society is a conversation scored for many voices. But it is precisely in and through that conversation that we become conjoint authors of our collective future."
“One of the most fundamental lessons we’ve learned from communities is this: It is important to presume that people WANT to be engaged. That is part of what it means to be human. We care about the things that affect our lives.”
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
"The city is everything."
—Joan Holloway, Mad Men
For more quotes & research on why conversations matter, read more here—