Last week the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Denver. A little background on the Smart Growth Conference brings together so many different thinkers, practitioners, activists, community leaders and elected officials from an ever-evolving and expanding spectrum of disciplines and innovative perspectives. New Partners has guided a strong and diverse movement grounded in the values of sustainable communities for over a decade.
Groundwork USA put in an application to facilitate a breakout session on the first day of the conference to showcase Groundwork as a national represented organization and to give four amazing young people, including myself, from three Groundwork trusts around the country (Groundwork Hudson Valley, Groundwork San Diego- Chollas Creek, and Groundwork Denver) to share their experiences as members of the Groundwork program the Green Team and what “Smart Growth” has meant to us on a personal and community level based on the work we’ve done for our respective Groundwork trusts.
Our four speakers: Ashley Perez (GW Hudson Valley), Nashaya Ross (GW San Diego), Carlos Macias (GW Denver) and myself (Dele Johnson- GW Denver) all did a wonderful job of sharing experiences and answering questions from the audience and wonderful moderator and conference coordinator Kate O’Brien of Groundwork USA. Each youth got to share how being involved in community development has shaped our lives.
After our session a number of attendees expressed how impressed they were by our presence in front of such a large group and the value of our experiences as members of Groundwork. I’m even told that our session was mentioned by the keynote speaker at the conference’s closing plenary!
It wasn’t all business for the Smart Growth Conference though! Us Groundworkers form Denver spent a morning showing our colleagues around town and exposing them to Smart Growth implementations in our city and some of the hidden gems we love so much!
The Smart Growth Conference was such an amazing experience for all of us and I’m very thankful to have been chosen to be a representative of Groundwork Denver and Groundwork USA at this year’s conference and hope to do so again in the future.