While it has been a while since CNU23, I am still snacking on some chocolates from Dude, Sweet Chocolate, so I figured it is not too late to do a blog re-cap of the event.

Dude, Sweet Chocolate was the second stop on our CNU23 Pastry Walk.  The PastryWalk is something we started in 2012 before we even had the film festival. It’s a simple idea: a walking tour of a neighborhood with key stops being small businesses.  We usually provide context questions about how storefronts and street trees along the route make the walk more pleasant.  But most folks just like the opportunity to binge snack through the hood.

We were able to bring the PastryWalk to Dallas as a CNU NextGen event.  With help from Erika Ragsdale and Laura Poncelot, we packed two buses full of folks to walk around Bishop Arts District in Dallas.  Seeing our idea/event grow in number and stature is what CNU is all about.


Here’s ten other things we like about CNU23.  Photos courtesy of Twitter. I left their twitter names on their so you can follow them throughout the year!

10.  Pretty much everyone at the conference made a joke about where the sidewalk ends.  the popular Deep Ellum neighborhood is just a mile walk from downtown. Yet the planners seem to forget that people walk.  And the sidewalk ends.  We made fun of this ourselves, and then saw everyone else was too!

sidewalk ends

9.  CNUers are a friendly bunch.  Howard Blackson and Andy Boenau are your friendly urban planners.  Actually, almost all CNU folks are incredibly friendly. As you will see, CNU is just as much about partying as it is about urban planning.


8.  CNU23 featured one of the largest tactical urbanism projects.  This street-takeover stretched an entire block!  During the congress, it featured outdoor movies, circus performers, libraries, live music, and fun in the sun!

pop up

7.  Again CNU takes you out of the conference hall.  (CNU is NOT a conference) Wayfinding signage practically forces you to skip sessions and head out to explore the city!

get out 2

6.  If you do stay for sessions, they are empowering!  CNU sessions are not for disseminating information to the masses. They are fun, interactive, usually entertaining, but most importantly they are all geared toward you, the attendee, to go back and DO something.


5. Leaders of the New Urbanism movement are still active at the Congress.  Even after 30 years of explaining New Urbanism all over the world, you can still catch Andres Duany giving the dual slide lecture and/or hanging out in the halls. I ran into Andres at the midnight rambler, a bar in downtown, and asked him if his slide by slide lecture was influence by his professor Vincent Scully.  He had never thought of that but supposed it might be!

leaders duany lecture

4.  Games of Cards Against Urbanity popped up everywhere.


3. I thought this “envision street trees” campaign was VERY clever. They are little slips of transparent paper, with trees printed on them.  You can hold the tree in place and virtually plant a tree.

tree envision

2. The last night of the conference meant tearing down the pop-up park.  I walked over to Deep Ellum with professor Norman Garrick. Garrick is so popular/influence he has his own cadre of followers, who refer to themselves as “the school of Norman” (So very East Coast of them compared to the Shoupistas).  Norman and I busted apart pallet furniture and crate-creations.  Not too many conferences have key board members and leading professors, getting down in the dirt and gritty, to help with hands on man power.  Building up and tearing down are equally community efforts.

pop down

1.  When Urban Planning gets real.  A morning plenary focused on Eco-apartheid.  How urban planning plays a part in racial reconciliation.  A very inspiring talk from Dr. Akom.

eco apartheid

Bonus: Dance Party.  There are not twitter posts about the Friday night dance party.  Either everyone was having too much fun to tweet pics. OR there is a code of secrecy about the party.  Seeing folks get down, knock elbows, step on feet, and get sweaty on the dance floor is, in a weird way, inspiring.  After watching hundreds of films on urban planning, I’ve seen Ellen Dunham Jones interviewed about snout houses dozens of times. Seeing all these technical talking head folks, get down, it is kind of good for the soul.

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