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Conference History

GLUE’s first annual conference, in Buffalo in 2008, brought together forty emerging leaders, by invitation, to discuss their work, build relationships with each other, and provide invaluable insight about what purpose GLUE–then barely more than a concept–could serve as an organization.

At GLUE’s second conference, last year in Milwaukee, attendance was open to everyone and increased to 70.  The three-day event energized and motivated participants through new information, relationships, and ideas. The participants represented a variety of backgrounds and sectors: transit, planning, urban agriculture, the arts, and business development, to name a few. What they shared was their status as active, intentional citizens, who work diligently—either professionally or through community involvement—to improve their Rust Belt cities. They also embraced the premise that we will not achieve the goal of a more prosperous future without making each city more livable for all of its residents.

Following our 2009 conference, which included tours to Growing Power, the Menomonee Valley, and the Great Lakes Water Institute, GLUE collected feedback from participants.  100 percent claimed to feel rejuvenated in their work by attending the conference, and intended to keep in touch with at least one other participant.  Perhaps most important, almost 90 percent reported, “I discovered at least one solution or practice that I will go home and try to implement.”  GLUE continues to focus on actionable ideas and solutions.

Participants also used the survey to provide praise about this unique event.

  • Growing Power exemplified what is possible in our cities.  It was proof that we can continue to be leaders in the nation (or world) for our innovation, creativity, and business savvy. –from Youngstown
  • GREAT job! What an exciting time of making new connections. –from Milwaukee
  • I was so impressed with the camaraderie of the attendees and the total lack of breakdowns into ethnic, regional, or age-based groups.  Yay, GLUE-people! –from Cleveland
  • I have been high on life ever since I left Milwaukee.  I cannot wait until the next conference.  Outstanding job! –from St. Louis

GLUE hopes to earn the same glowing feedback this year, when we bring the conference to Cleveland.

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