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Friends of MICD,

Registration is now open for two new Mayors' Virtual Seminars designed to help you navigate the uncertain future of your cities' commercial backbones, which we know was on your minds well before the pandemic further upended all expectations. Design Solutions for Retrofitting Suburban-Style Retail and Housing will cover strategies for redeveloping "dead malls," empty parking lots, and more; Helping Main Streets and Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic will examine ways to adapt your commercial districts to the new normal. As always, these small-group discussions with leading experts are off the record in order to encourage candid conversations about your cities' urgent challenges.

I'm also honored to share my latest column at Common Edge, featuring an inside look at Mayor Levar Stoney's decision to remove Richmond's Confederate monuments and what comes next. He also shared an update on his 2017 MICD project, from one of our most memorable case study discussions here at the Institute. A community-driven process is now transforming what was once a horrific hub of the slave trade (a site long since left to languish as parking lots) into a powerful memorial campus telling the "complete history" of the city.

Trinity Simons
Executive Director
Mayors' Institute on City Design


Mayors' Virtual Seminar: Design Solutions for Retrofitting Suburban-Style Retail and Housing

Thursday, September 10  |  3:00-4:00pm ET

Ellen Dunham-Jones  |  Professor, School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology

In this seminar, Ellen Dunham-Jones, co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia and host of the REDESIGNING CITIES podcast, will present five case studies in which city leaders have formed key partnerships to transform suburban-style properties into more equitable, more resilient, and more economically vibrant neighborhoods.
Participating mayors will take away replicable strategies for: reinhabiting and regreening shopping malls and strip retail centers; leveraging public land; designing parking lots as future building sites; using real estate transaction fees to underwrite affordable housing; and simultaneously improving schools, housing, and poverty. Mayors will be invited to discuss the applicability of these strategies to their city and COVID-19 recovery efforts.
Mayors: Register Now


Mayors' Virtual Seminar: Helping Main Streets and Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic

Monday, September 21  |  12:00-1:00pm ET

Kennedy Smith  |  Principal, Community Land Use + Economics Group

In this seminar, commercial district expert Kennedy Smith will share actionable lessons for mayors based on her recent publication, Safeguarding Small Business During The Pandemic: 26 Strategies For Local Leaders. As small businesses and main streets face the existential threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, mayors have made rapid-fire policy decisions to help them survive the immediate future. This seminar offers a chance to step back and focus on medium-term solutions (helping small businesses and main streets adapt and pivot) and long-term solutions (fixing systemic problems that the pandemic has laid bare).

Participating mayors will take away actionable ideas to help small businesses adapt and receive expert advice on the challenges facing each of their cities during the small-group discussion.
Mayors: Register Now


Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney on Confederate Monuments, New Memorials, and Racial Justice

In our latest column at Common Edge, Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney spoke with MICD Executive Director Trinity Simons about removing Confederate statues on Monument Avenue, how they’ve become places for healing and reconciliation, and the longer-term engagement process over the city's future. 
On what's next after the removal of monuments:
"What you see now are folks of all different walks of life, all different backgrounds, visiting Monument Avenue and sharing in that black joy that you spoke about. It’s become a place of unity instead of a place of division... What we have to do now as elected leaders, though, is tear down the system that those monuments symbolized. That’s the systemic racism in our government, in our criminal justice system, in healthcare, in housing, you name it."
On new plans for a memorial campus in the Shockoe area, where the second busiest domestic slave port in the United States once stood  the subject of Mayor Stoney's MICD project:
"Partly because of this fraught and charged history, the site mostly languished as parking lots for decades... Over the last five years or so, we’ve been able to bring people to the table, stakeholders who had never been to the table over the last 20–30 years, and we’ve been able to come to a unified vision on what this area should be moving forward. And that’s a memorial campus that will feature a memorial park and a museum to the enslaved. I can’t say that we were in this position a decade ago or even five years ago. And that’s because people are willing to come to the table, be vulnerable, speak truth to power, and compromise."
Read the Article


Mayors' Virtual Seminars: Past Presentations

Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery

In this seminar, Zabe Bent, Dr. Destiny Thomas, and Ariel Ward explored the various ways city transportation agencies have managed dramatic shifts in mobility in recent months. In their powerful presentations, they encouraged mayors to think deeply about who rapid-response projects benefit and to design for the safety and quality of life for those who need it most. 

Parks Are Your New Asset

As COVID-19 has crippled our cities, parks have become the new assets of the public realm. In this seminar, renowned landscape architect Ernest Wong helped mayors explore a variety of park design solutions to encourage social distancing and healthy travel, as well as policy ideas to promote park maintenance while driving solutions for other social equity issues. 

Safe Places, Active Spaces: A Design-Based Approach to Community Safety 

This powerful seminar introduced mayors to the BlackSpace Manifesto, a guide for a design process that centers community safety and empowerment in historically marginalized communities. Architect and planner Ifeoma Ebo shared examples of successful projects that reimagined the space around public housing, parks, streetscapes and more through community-powered design.

Monuments: Reckoning with the Past, Envisioning the Future

As cities grapple with critical conversations about monuments and public space, mayors can lead by creating spaces for communities to heal and move towards a more equitable future. In this seminar, Bryan Lee, Jr. and Paul Farber discussed strategies for representing unheard stories and offered ways in which mayors can mediate difficult conversations to encourage healing and unity. 
The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors’ Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.
Copyright © 2020 Mayors' Institute on City Design, All rights reserved.

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