For the inaugural year of Cities Summit at SXSW
, we organized walking tours modeled after one of the Cities Summit panels – Reimagining the Civic Commons. People from Brazil, Copenhagen, London, British Columbia, Washington, D.C., Portland and other cities participated, as well as downtown residents.
SXSW Cities Summit is a new element of the conference intended to bring civic leaders, citizens, and urban advocates together to create more equitable, resilient, and livable cities. The panel on civic commons introduced the idea that healthy and thriving civic spaces – parks, streets, libraries, schoolyards and community centers – are critical for a vital and inclusive city.
The tours were an opportunity for people to learn from the local experts, public, private and nonprofit, who are reinventing downtown’s civic commons. Ten experts in Austin joined us to discuss their work of improving our own civic commons. A range of projects was explored from Austin’s new Central Library to Shoal Creek Conservancy to Capital Metro’s downtown station.
Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of the Austin Theatre Alliance and Downtown Alliance board member, facilitated the tours. We were happy to be joined by two of the Civic Commons panelists; Carol Coletta
, placemaking guru currently leading the civic commons program at Kresge foundation and Kathryn Ott Lovell
, Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.