2017 Program


2017 Conference Program 

The 2017 Summit is coming to Atlanta to dig into the region's rich history, complex urban challenges, and innovative solutions that are creating a more just and sustainable city. This year's Summit program includes place- and topic-based studios, keynotes, inspirational TED-style speakers, breakthrough sessions, networking events, and shoulder programs. Stay tuned for a final program and lineup of speakers, to be announced in the coming weeks!


Day 1 • Tuesday, 10 October, 2017

Georgia State University, Student Center East Building • 55 Gilmer St SE • Atlanta, GA 30303

8:30am - 9:10am


9:10am - 9:30am


The Beloved Community – How Atlanta Can Create Equitable Neighborhoods for All

Join Nathaniel Smith for an inspirational and thought-provoking Opening Keynote as he shares the history of Atlanta and its surrounding region, and discusses the importance of focusing on climate, growth, and economy to create equitable and inclusive communities.

9:30am - 10:00am


The 2017 EcoDistricts Summit is designed to be a participatory event. Through facilitated group sessions and interactive Studio and Breakthrough sessions, we’ll connect attendees to each other, engage attendees to create real solutions for Atlanta neighborhoods, and develop outcomes at the end of Day 2 to take back to our communities across North America and the globe.

10:00am - 11:00am


Duriya Farooqui is the Executive Director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, a coalition of 40 corporate CEOs, Atlanta leaders and the Mayor, working on the most critical investments for Atlanta’s future. Her presentation will speak to public private partnerships, the intersection of which needs to be a conversation on equity. 

Tim Keane is the Commissioner of Planning and Community Development for the City of Atlanta. With his considerable background in planning, preservation, and sustainability, Tim will discuss high quality, sustainable, and equitable growth and development in Atlanta through facilitating more options for travel, abundant housing for all people, thriving neighborhoods, exceptional design in architecture and public spaces, preservation of historic resources, innovative regulatory practices, safe and durable buildings, and more.

April De Simone, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of designing the WE, will provoke attendees to think about the interactive Undesigning the Redline exhibit they will be interacting with throughout the Summit. April will discuss the designing the WE organization, and the role their installations play in helping people explore topics like redlining.

11:00am - 12:15pm


12:30pm - 4:30pm


Our half-day Studio Sessions dive deep into diverse communities across the City of Atlanta. Led by experiences facilitators and speakers, join a group of local community leaders and national experts to tour an Atlanta community, learn about unique challenges and opportunities facing the neighborhood, and design real solutions to advance neighborhood equity, sustainability, and resilience.

Loosening the Belt: Bringing Affordability Back to the Atlanta Beltline – The Atlanta Beltline is a sustainable redevelopment project that is transforming the city and its bordering neighborhoods in ways that are sparking questions and calling for intentional review. Its goals of connecting 45 in-town neighborhoods via a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, modern streetcar, and parks – all based on railroad corridors that formerly encircled Atlanta, are close to fruition. When completed, it will provide first and last mile connectivity for regional transportation initiatives and put Atlanta on a forward-thinking path to economic growth and long-range sustainability. In contrast to the benefits, community advocates and equity leaders have voiced concern over unmitigated displacement and an quickly growing lack of low-income, affordable, and workforce housing for the most vulnerable communities the Beltline was supposed to be an amenity.

Green in The ‘Hood: Using Green Infrastructure and Parks to Improve Equity on Atlanta’s Westside – A partnership between the City of Atlanta, non-profits, foundations, and the community has resulted in a park and green infrastructure plan for the neighborhoods most impacted by stormwater overflow events in the Proctor Creek Watershed. The team is building community and green infrastructure into new parks to address historically discriminatory waste water treatment practices. The parks provide a place for recreational benefits as well as capacity relief for stormwater discharge, leading to more just outcomes for the community. The initiatives have been led by the desired outcomes of the surrounding neighborhoods west of downtown Atlanta and provided both security and resiliency for the investments there.

Wrap Around Neighborhood: Developing Strong Mixed-Income Communities in Atlanta’s East Lake – East Lake is a mixed-income housing community, anchored by a golf course and community and educational programming. The East Lake Foundation was established to revitalize the East Lake neighborhood, generate new opportunities for the families living there, and create a vibrant community where all residents thrive. A national model for community redevelopment, East Lake is a thriving neighborhood including the Villages of East Lake, a mixed-income housing community with 542 apartments, townhouses and duplexes and wrap-around amenities like the Drew Charter School, The Cox Pre-K Program, East Lake Early Learning Academy, and the Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Center providing a cradle-to-college pipeline for residents.

Deep Roots: Strengthening Climate & Cultural Resiliency through Creative Placemaking – As part of its Climate and Cultural Resilience Grant Program, Enterprise Community Partners Inc. awarded 5 grants to teams around the country using creative placemaking strategies to strengthen the connection between cultural and climate resilience. Grantees have identified a local climate resilience challenge and proposed projects in which residents, artists and other creative and cultural practitioners can collaborate to address the challenge and other concerns such as equity, racial equity, economic disparities, health disparities and community engagement and cohesion.

Broad Strokes: Stabilizing Arts & Culture Through Permanent Placemaking for the Arts – Join us and visit the South Broad Street Art District and learn about what the Beacon's Project is doing to help artists own their space and preserve vital community spaces. Since the Goat Farm was founded on the west side, its leadership envisioned helping other arts organizations become asset owners. The goal is to work with landowners to stop beautiful old buildings along South Broad Street in Downtown Atlanta from being bulldozed and reimagine them as a place for artists to embrace history and build a new community.

Academic Flow: The Emory Waterhub as a Decentralized Ecological Water Reclamation System. The Emory Waterhub is changing the way universities think about sustainability and Emory University is home to the first decentralized ecological water reclamation system in the US. The WaterHub is capable of recycling over 100 million gallons annually. This session will explore the collaboration between anchor institution Emory University and the surrounding community to develop a solution to localized flooding and wastewater contamination. It will also dive into the role of Regional Centers of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE) in programs and initiatives that positively impact the neighborhoods and residents around anchor institutions.

Where Data & Equity Meet: The Role of Health Data and Sustainability as a Catalyst Point for Addressing Disparities – Explore ways to bridge the gap between traditional “health” providers and those that design systems that impact health outcomes. Help brainstorm ways to create systems to bridge the gaps between industries and decision-makers. Discuss how to use health data to guide design, policy, and investments.

Growing Green: How Urban Agriculture Creates Prosperity and Sustainability in Atlanta – The City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability’s urban agriculture leadership is battling food deserts with community gardens and farmers markets. Because of supporting the local non-profit Truly Living Well through the permitting and zoning processes, the westside of Atlanta is now home to the Collegetown Garden. This organic garden hopes to build a local food economy and transform a neighborhood in a city plagued with food deserts. For the future, the city has an ambitious goal of bringing local, healthy food within a half-mile of 75 percent of all its residents by 2020.

Leading from the Front: The First Generation of EcoDistricts Certified Projects – This studio brings together leaders from the first cohort of projects pursuing EcoDistricts Certified. As a community, this group will collectively share lessons learned, advance best practices, and inform the evolution of the EcoDistricts standard. The session will include brief presentations from each district so team members are oriented to other projects. Participants will dive into the first steps of Certification with guidance and a work session around the imperative commitments. Finally, participants will discuss the ongoing structure of this EcoDistricts cohort to formalize a structure that best supports their work

7:00pm - 10:00pm


Join us for an evening of music, good food and libations, and city changing conversation. This year’s annual Block Party will be held at Studio No. 7, a local event space with two outdoor areas, a gallery, loft and lounge.


Day 2 • Wednesday, 11 October, 2017

Loudermilk Conference Center • 40 Courtland St NE • Atlanta, GA 30303

8:30am - 9:45am


Our Master Facilitators will kick off day two of the Summit with a recap of the Studio session outcomes. Then, attendees will come together at their tables for day two introductions and aspirations, setting the stage for the day’s inspiring conversations and work sessions.

9:45am - 10:15am


The Great EcoDistricts Experiment

Doug Farr, Founding Principal and President of Farr Associates, is a national leader in designing sustainable neighborhoods and buildings. In his morning keynote, Doug will outline our collective pledge to join the EcoDistricts experiment and consider some of the big questions in this movement: What if EcoDistricts never existed? Or what if it succeeds wildly? How would the world be different? Doug’s keynote will cover ideas about how to change the world quickly, and will provide attendees with an urgent call to action to prioritize outcomes in equity, resilience, and climate protection.

10:15am - 10:45am


10:45am - 11:45am


The Case Study Breakthrough sessions will introduce attendees to diverse neighborhood projects from across the country, from San Francisco’s Chinatown to Toronto’s East Harbour.

  • Business Improvement Districts – Lloyd EcoDistrict, Portland, OR and RiNo, Denver, CO
  • Cultural Districts – Chinatown, San Francisco, CA
  • Major Brownfield Redevelopments
  • Affordable Housing-Led Regeneration – Sun Valley, Denver, CO
  • Community Led Initiatives – PUSH Buffalo, NY and Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

11:45am - 1:15pm


1:15pm - 2:45pm


The Topic Breakthrough sessions will showcase collaborative thinking on critical EcoDistricts topics. Attendees will hear from national leaders in topics such as resilient neighborhoods, smart cities, and project financing, and examine how to apply best practices in Atlanta-area projects and neighborhoods across the globe.

  • Building Community Resilience to Climate Change
  • Smart and Connected Communities
  • Designing and Operationalizing Equity
  • Financing and Governance of Neighborhood Development Projects
  • Net Zero Neighborhoods

2:45pm - 3:00pm


3:00pm - 5:00pm


Summit attendees will come together for a final working session to develop real outcomes from Summit sessions. Together, we’ll create a set of 10 actionable recommendations around implementing “Neighborhoods For All” in communities across the globe.

6:30pm - 9:30pm