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GLUE’s members express close to unanimous support for better public transit in their cities, so we’ve tried to create a few different agenda activities to empower both national and local initiatives on transit.  First of all, on Friday over lunch, we’ll be hearing from Kristin Purdy, the Regional Organizer for the Midwest for the Transportation for America Campaign.  Kristin will talk about the federal transportation bill, up for reauthorization this year, and what the T4America Campaign is doing to make better public transit possible through federal policy.  She’ll also ask for help from GLUEsters at the local level.

Then, over dinner on Thursday, Dave Wetzel, President of the Land Labour Campaign (U.K.) will give a talk entitled, Using Land Value to Create Sustainable Communities: How Implementation of Rail Can Be Funded Without Raising Taxes.  From Dave:

The current crisis sweeping the world’s banking and business activities arises from too much easy bank credit being used to purchase buildings as assets which appeared to only appreciate in value.

Although we think of these assets as homes, in fact the bricks and mortar, the wooden floorboards and the tiles on the roof of a house do not escalate in value. It is the site on which buildings stand, i.e. the land, that increases in value over the rate of inflation. Add in speculation i.e. land not purchased for use but acquired for its future increase in value and often actually kept out of use – and you have the fuel for economic disaster.

Happily, there is an alternative that not only corrects the speculative bubble, avoids booms and slumps and ensures full employment but provides a treasure of wealth that can pay for essential services and reduce harmful taxes on wages, production and trade.

By taxing the annual value of land we can utilise wealth that nobody creates by their labour but is created by the actions of the whole community.

When invested in needed infrastructure and services, the surrounding land values increase, adding to the Annual Land Value Tax receipts without causing inflationary pressures or creating a bubble which is bound to burst.

Following Dave’s talk, we’ll hear some updates on the transit possibilites in Milwaukee, and then we’ll break into workshops to plan local strategies for improving public transit, using both the national update from Kristin and the local strategies from Dave.  All over beer, of course.

(Note, full conference participants are registered to attend this dinner.  But if you live in Milwaukee and can’t attend the whole conference, please consider joining us for this dinner.  You can find more details about ticket prices and registration here.)


Our final site visit is designed for those interested in visual arts, artists’ roles in the community, how to support artists, and of course, where there are artists… there’s building reuse!  We’ll go on a walking tour on an area of the Third and Fifth Wards that is an old warehouse district, and is now home to much of Milwaukee’s arts and design community.  Stops include:

  • The Portrait Society (on view: Men in Suits, by photographer Nicholas Grider).
  • Tory Folliard Gallery (on view: two Wisconsin artists, Bill Reid and Jan Serr, opening that night with an artists’ reception!).
  • Katie Gingrass Gallery (on view: As I See It – oil paintings by mostly Wisconsin artsts); we’ll get a brief talk with one of those local artists.
  • Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, located in the 1920s Milwaukee Terminal Building, is the fasting growing art and design school in the U.S.  We’ll meet MIAD’s Director of Galleries, Mark Lawson.

We’ll wrap things up at The Arts Building, which houses artists’ studios, galleries, and Vital Source Magazine, the free arts and culture guide to Milwaukee.  Amy Elliott, Vital Source’s managing editor, has both put together our tour and will be serving as our personal tour guide (even amidst planning for the magazine’s website re-launch).  Thanks Amy!

NEW on 3/3: We are please to announce that GLUE has opened up two of our conference events to locals who are unable to attend the entire conference.  Tickets to the dinners being hosted on Thursday, 3/12, and Friday, 3/13, are now available.

Thursday: We will be enjoying locally-sourced food (vegan options available) catered by Papineau & Co. at the Sprecher Brewery in Glendale, at 6:00.  After enjoying appetizers and mingling, we’ll hear from Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines, on the Importance of Local Government, and from Carol Coletta, CEO of CEOs for Cities, who will speak on the role of young leaders in our cities.  After dinner, we’ll receive a tour of the brewery.  One beer is provided with dinner.  Tickets are $45, or $140 for four.

Friday: We are hosting a transportation-themed dinner at Trocadero, beginning at 7:00.  Please join us to hear Dave Wetzel’s talk: Using Land Value to Build Sustainable Communities: How Implementation of Rail Can Be Funded Without Raising Taxes. Following Dave’s speech, participate in a workshop to design local strategies to advocate for transit.  Cash bar.  Tickets are $30, or $100 for four.

You can register for each of these events here.  Your registration is complete once you make a donation (in the amount of the tickets you are purchasing) to GLUE here.

For the sustainably inclined, the second site visit option will be a tour of the Menomonee Valley, conducted by the Executive Director of the Menomonee Valley Partners, Laura Bray.

Menomonee Valley, in addition to its mellifluous name, boasts an incredible brownfields renovation story.  The valley, located along the Menomonee River, was long a host to heavy industry and a contributor to river pollution.  As industry faded away, the Valley became an essential wasteland, where the costs of locating had too high a cleanup cost.

In 1998, the City adopted a Land Use Plan, and renewal efforts have been led by the Menomonee Valley Business Association, a Menomonee Valley Business District, and the Menomonee Valley Partners, which brings all of the interest groups (government, private, citizen, non-profit) together.

As I understand the vision for the Valley, it will still feature manufacturing business that provide family-supporting wages; business who locate there receive various types of assistance to design sustainably.  Many of the natural processes of the Valley are being restored, accessibility to the jobs there is being increased, and new companies are still arriving.  It’s a model for sustainable development that we should all take back home.

Lots more info is available on the MVP website (I recommend downloading the June 16, 2006 MVP Brochure here).

Thanks to Laura for putting this site visit together.

With the generous assistance of the Claus Dunkelberg, of the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Water Council, GLUE is planning one of its site visits on Friday afternoon to the amazing Great Lakes Water Institute.  The Water Institute is the largest freshwater research facility on the Great Lakes.

Milwaukee is the home to a growing cluster of businesses based on freshwater research and technology, which could represent one of the industries forming the backbone of our elusive new economy.  It is a great opportunity to check out a major hub of Milwaukee’s coordinated activity around this developing industry.  According to the Water Committee:

The Milwaukee Region is uniquely positioned to take the lead in this incredibly important industry. Over 120 water-related companies locate operations here, including five of the 11 largest water firms in the world.  By aligning and linking these companies with academic institutions and extensive research facilities and providing resources, support and connections to talent and outside markets, the Water Council is dedicated to creating a new regional economic engine with global potential.

(Note to conference participants: this is one of 3-4 site visits from which you will select one to attend during the conference.  You’ll get an email in about a week, and after the remaining site visits have been announced, asking for your selection.)

With a focus on flavor and locally sourced foods Papineau & Company is working with GLUE to put together a “hopping” evening at Sprecher Brewery to kick off our conference on Thursday night.  There’ll be loads of gourmet appetizers, a light dinner, and–following our speakers Carol Coletta and Alderman Hines–entertainment like karaoke, Guitar Hero (really), and a brewery tour.

We couldn’t come to Milwaukee without sampling the brews — and some elements of our dinner will probably have been grown or raised at Growing Power, which we’ll have toured earlier in the day.  It’s all coming together…

Yesterday we were proud to receive confirmation that Dick Longworth will be joining Kate Rube, Policy Director of Smart Growth America, and Tom Wolfe, Executive Director of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, in our overview panel on the morning of the 13th–“Mapping the Mega-regional Issues” (more panelists to be added).

While Dick’s extensive journalism background has covered a range of topics–from camel treks to globalization–he’s probably most well known to GLUEsters as the author of Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism.

Almost a travelogue through our mega-region’s similar cities and towns, Caught in the Middle teases out the effects of globalization that have hurt our communities (i.e., loss of manufacturing jobs)–but finds hope in those effects that are bolstering us (the occasional HQ of a global company, the immigrant communities).  Now with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the nascent Global Midwest Institute, Dick is leading the effort to understand how our communities must adapt.  We’re thrilled to welcome him to the GLUE Conference!

You may have noticed a link to Growing Power over in the “Milwaukee Organizations” blogroll, and the intentionally vague “Milwaukee Tour” that occupied the 1:30 slot on Thursday’s agenda.  Well, that has been replaced with a Tour of Growing Power, which we have been hoping for all month, and have now confirmed!

Growing Power is an incredible organization (you may have seen Abby’s GLUEspace post about founder and CEO Will Allen’s receipt of a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2008) dedicated to the understanding that healthy food systems are a necessary component of any healthy community.  I love the story on their “Our History” Page:

In 1993, Growing Power was an organization with teens who needed a place to work.

Will Allen was a farmer with land.

Will designed a program that offered teens an opportunity to work at his store and renovate the greenhouses to grow food for their community.  What started as a simple partnership to change the landscape of the north side of Milwaukee has blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems.

Since its inception, Growing Power has served as a ”living museum” or “idea factory” for the young, the elderly, farmers, producers, and other professionals ranging from USDA personnel to urban planners.  Training areas include the following: acid-digestion, anaerobic digestion for food waste, bio-phyto remediation and soil health, aquaculture closed-loop systems, vermiculture, small and large scale composting, urban agriculture, perma-culture, food distribution, marketing, value-added product development, youth development, community engagement, participatory leadership development, and project planning.

One of GLUE’s friends in Milwaukee takes a tour of Growing Power every six months, because there’s always something new and fascinating.  We’re thrilled to be showing off this Milwaukee gem.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Lynn Todman, the Director of the Adler School’s Institute of Social Exclusion, last December, after being introduced to her via a radio interview on Worldview (blogged about by GLUE intern Katie Marcuz).

Dr. Todman is engaged in an enormous effort to re-frame issues of equity, social justice, and social disadvantage from their current silos (i.e., prisoner re-entry is one issue; low income housing another) to an understanding that all of these issues are interrelated and often exacerbate each other (i.e., did you know that people who have been convicted of felonies, once released from prison, are ineligible to live in public housing?).

We are excited to announce that Dr. Todman will join us in Milwaukee.  She will serve as an incredible guide for our members who want to re-think public policy as a tool for increasing the inclusivity of our communities.

One element of the conference is what we’re calling “Track Breakouts:” three breakout sessions where the same group of conference participants is led by seasoned professionals in one specific area of GLUE activity.  The three “tracks” are: Community Journalism, Movement Building, and Issues Research & Advocacy (we ask you to choose your track during registration).  Each track will receive an educational overview and then actual training in: creating community-based media, building constituencies, or doing issues research and developing advocacy strategies.

We’ve confirmed that the Issues Research & Advocacy track will be co-led by representatives of Smart Growth America (SGA) and the Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMW), two of GLUE’s favorite policy mentors.  They know the urban policy landscape like the backs of their hands, and I can think of no better guides for GLUEsters thinking about how to strategically weigh in on policy opportunities in 2009, and beyond.

(If you’ve been reading your GLUEsletters, you also know that NEMW and SGA are partners on the upcoming Revitalizing Older Cities Capitol Hill Summit, in DC on February 11-12.  GLUE will be in effect, and we hope many of you will be able to join us in both DC AND Milwaukee!)


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