Omaha 2010

Omaha 2010

Meeting of the Minds 2010

Omaha, NE
June 16-18, 2010

The 2010 Meeting of the Minds convened in Omaha (Nebraska, USA) with Toyota as lead sponsor.

The event provided a unique platform for leading transport technologists/engineers, focused on designing vehicles and infrastructure, to share their future visions with leading urban planners and designers, focused on the built environments which house more than half of humanity. Meeting of the Minds provided a platform for debate and discussion to leaders from private sector, public sector, NGOs and academia — all working to create more sustainable cities and design a new approach to urban vehicles.

The participants spent two full days re-imagining ‘the big picture’; learning from cities successfully adopting neighborhood-based solutions; debating vehicle and innovating new surface systems; identifying the critical tools which we need in order to move forward.

A Note From the Organizers

During these past few months our sponsors and partners have worked together with a singular aim: to provide a stimulating platform where political, business and non-profit sector leaders can jointly explore innovative approaches to sustainability. This year we’ve focused on these approaches that are working well in our cities, especially policies and initiatives creating lasting solutions in our metropolitan communities.

The next two days will be spent working together to divine better formulas for cities and regions of varied sizes and resources. Our agenda takes a magnifying glass to those communities incubating strategies for a sustainable future. These are places where innovators operate with a clear set of principles rooted in the interconnections linking economic, environmental and social development.

To promote a necessary and long-overdue rethink of urban/regional development, Urban Age and the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities have joined forces with global, national and local partners to showcase innovators. These are men and women who have been busy scaling-up practical solution in infrastructure, technology, buildings, design, energy, transport, water and finance. All are working to create more livable cities – and all of them have discovered the need for better governance. What gets decided on sustainable development is important, but so too is how we decide.

Removing barriers blocking our path toward more sustainable policies and practices is not going to be easy. Multiple jurisdictions overlap without a common framework to link them together; financing in a credit-constrained world seems to get harder every day; “connecting the dots” sometimes becomes an intellectual exercise divorced from the needs of ordinary people.

With this in mind, we’ve worked for many months with a basic conviction: this summit will succeed if we focus on connecting the dots to form a whole.

Joining us are some key actors representing diverse geographic and different elements of a larger picture: officials working inside cities, counties, regions, states, national government agencies; private sector executives; and independent sector leaders.

Connecting the dots involves matching new private sector investment strategies with new public sector policies. Smarter infrastructure can certainly enable greener systems, which in turn, deliver cleaner services – in energy, water, transport, and buildings. These are each components that, taken together, can form sustainable cities better equipped for the big challenges ahead.

Climate change is clearly pushing some cities to act more quickly than they otherwise might have done. The financial crisis unleashed powerful economic forces that, in some cities, have impeded or slowed the roll-out of more effective metropolitan policies.

Sharing best practices through city-to-city learning will, we believe, take us a long way toward shaping a common agenda that cuts through boundaries.

There are some big sustainability challenges facing cities. Fortunately, innovations can be replicated and scaled up, especially when developed inside the “living labs” provided by out cities and neighborhoods.

In summary, we’ve created what we hope will be a rich experience for you in the heart of the nation, and we’re looking forward to your personal participation.

Gordon Feller
Urban Age Institute
Meeting of the Minds is made possible by the generous support of these organizations:
Toyota
Cisco
Shell
The Kresge Foundation
Oracle
IBM
Qualcomm
Living Cities
EY's Global Cleantech Center
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Barr Foundation
Rock Ventures
Ford Foundation
Itron
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Blossman Propane Gas, Appliance & Service
The New Economy Initiative
DTE Energy
Michigan Economic Development Board (MEDC)
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy