Wisconsin Meetings Fall 2012 : Page 32

I t Can Take a Village (or City) to Land an InternatIonaL eVent By: Betty W. stark F rom the day the first of 1,150 attendees arrived in Madison in early June 2011 for the 19th annual Congress for the New Urbanism, the love fest was on. was the ideal setting for new urbanists to showcase their story. But the much-sought-after conference almost didn’t happen, according to former madison mayor dave cieslewicz, who co-chaired the event with Jane Grabowski-miller, vice president of urban design + development at the erdman development Group. almost a year before the 2011 start date, fund-raising efforts were floundering and John norquist, former milwaukee mayor and current president and ceo of the chicago-based congress for the new urbanism, suggested to then-mayor dave that perhaps madison wasn’t up to the task. “I disagreed with John and told him we’d get the job done,” says cieslewicz. “the cnu had strict fund-raising requirements if madison was to be the host city. I put together a steering committee of local business leaders who helped spearhead the effort. We raised very close to the required dollar amount in advance of the conference start date.” the conference attracted planners, architects, engineers and landscapers as well as potential investors and developers, students and anti-sprawl advocates from more than 40 states and 13 countries. Larger cities like Washington, d.c., atlanta, austin and new York city had hosted past congresses, so the fact that “little” madison got the nod from this high-powered organization dedicated to mixed-use neighborhoods, narrower-than-the-norm streets, bike paths and locally-sourced food reinforced what many were saying: madison 34 | wisconsin meetings | fall 2012

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