Urban Legends - 14 April 2015, Auckland
The Auckland Young Planners Committee is pleased to report that this year’s Young Planners Congress, held on 14 April at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre; was a roaring success. With over 170 delegates, the 2015 Congress was the largest gathering of young planners in the NZPI’s history. A stellar line-up of speakers ensured that everybody went home with their minds provoked.
The festivities began with the social evening on 13 April held at Ponsonby’s Little Easy pub. About 70 young planners turned up on a bitterly cold evening to eat, drink, socialise and participate in the planning-themed icebreakers organised by ScribbleAKL. The evening’s fun and folly was generously sponsored by Eighty4 recruitment.
The Congress theme of ‘Urban Legends’ was intended as an allusion to mythbusting, to narratives, and to our speakers themselves. On each of these facets, each speaker delivered in spades. Ngarimu Blair opened the day with fascinating insights into local history, and offered his views on Maori participation in planning today. Julie-Anne Genter reflected on her personal journey from planning into politics, and on the interdependency that exists between planning and politics. Nat Cheshire discussed the improvisational ethos he has brought to urban renewal in the Auckland CBD. Nick Williamson put forward the case for planners taking on the role of story¬teller in public participation processes. Rounding out the local contingent, the panel discussion on housing (between David Clelland, Amelia Lindsay, Martin Udale and Phil McDermott) covered significant ground on the relationship between urban form, regulation, infrastructure, and housing affordability.
The two international speakers complemented the locals with fresh perspectives from overseas. Charles Montgomery, the Canadian author of Happy City drew fascinating links between urban form, social cohesion and human happiness; convincingly making the case that planning and urbanism have a direct effect on our emotional well-being. Melbourne’s Lucinda Hartley finished the day with a discussion on tactical urbanism as a means of inclusively achieving quick-wins in place-making. To apply the theory first-hand, delegates were sent outside to get creative with place-making. Within a half-hour, members of the public were playing with our contraptions of chalk and wool.
The 2015 YP Congress could not have happened without the generosity of our sponsors, so a big thank-you to Harrison Grierson, Beca, Eighty4 Recruitment, Auckland Council, MWH, Woods, Thomas Civil & Environmental Consultants and the University of Auckland. It also would not be possible without the herculean efforts of our 16-strong organising committee, and the help of Jason Grieving and Gurv Singh.
Thank you all, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Dunedin next year for what will be an equally fantastic YP Congress in 2016.
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