Fourth GLUE Conference Coming Up in Pittsburgh

Loyal readers, we have an important message for you. In just under two weeks, the fourth Great Lakes Urban Exchange Conference will take place in every Rust belt enthusiast’s happy place: Pittsburgh. (Browns fans excluded.)

Super-cool GLUEsters getting down in Milwaukee circa 2009.

For the uninitiated: GLUE is an organization that connects and empowers young professionals working to improve rust belt cities. Does that describe you? Of course it does! You read this blog (or somehow took a very wrong turn looking for a peach cobbler recipe) after all.

Anyway, Kate and I have been attending this conference religiously as it has made its way through our favorite part of the United States. Last year the conference was held in Cleve-o. And the year before, Milwaukee.

The highlights of these conferences are as follows:

  • You get to visit places like Cleveland and Milwaukee (if this does not excite you, move along to
  • Meeting the movers and shakers in the whole region
  • Checking out the best projects in each city
  • Hearing from the top experts on urban revitalization

For more information, and for registration information, check out the press release below:

“Green-Lighting Neighborhoods”

Convening of Rust Belt Lovers Lands in Larimer Sept 15-17

Topics to Include the Legacy of Racialized Urban Space in Great Lakes Cities, How Caring For Our Water Can Change Our Cities, and Protecting the “Community” in Community Development

August 29, 2011 – For the first time, the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE), a four-year-old community of younger Rust Belt residents committed to equitable and sustainable futures for their cities, will take its annual think-and-do convening out of the typical downtown corridor and into a particular neighborhood.  Sponsored initially by the Brookings Institution’s Great Lakes Economic Initiative, GLUE, now a project of the Tides Center, was founded by two Rust Belt boomerangs who sought to collect a different set of stories for the world about how cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh have fared after the decline of monolithic industrial economies, not to mention all the fallout – and rebirth – that accompanied it.

GLUE has since become a community of over 2000 people, most of whom are between the ages of 18 and 40, and who call cities from Buffalo to Duluth home.  GLUE has initiated conversations about public policy, launched campaigns to attract and retain talent, and provided a forum for storytelling on its website:

After GLUE’s 2010 “Urban Laboratories” event in Cleveland, workshop co-facilitators Fred Brown, of the Kingsley Association, and Pat Clark, a community development consultant and principal of Jackson Clark Partners, worked with GLUE director Sarah Szurpicki to reexamine and retool the annual GLUE experience.   In particular, they saw an opportunity to do more with the energy these conferences generated, by being more deliberate about forging relationships across racial, socioeconomic, and neighborhood boundaries.

While Pittsburgh has made great strides in becoming America’s “most livable city,” some neighborhoods – like Larimer – have not reaped the benefits of its redevelopment.  In spite of this, Larimer is home to innovative, collaborative organizing efforts to make sure that its residents have a say in the future of their neighborhood. The future they’re envisioning is ambitiously green. The work happening there may be a model for how Rust Belt cities ensure that every resident benefits from the revitalization of our cities.

“I was really impressed by the ingenuity and commitment of the people I saw in Cleveland,” said Fred Brown, Associate Director of Program Development at The Kingsley Association, located in the East End of Pittsburgh, which will host most of the conference activities, and who has been deeply involved in the planning, “but I saw a powerful – and challenging – unexplored opportunity to bring GLUE’s natural audience to Larimer.  I am proud that the Kingsley Association will provide a forum, not only for a regional conversation about social equity and urban policy, but to tell stories about Larimer’s continued evolution to become a sustainable community and the hard-working and forward thinking community members of the Larimer Consensus Group driving it.  Even in Pittsburgh, there are a lot of people who have no idea about all the good work taking place just east of East Liberty, and we look forward to showing them what we’ve been up to.”

“Whether in Buffalo, Cleveland, or Milwaukee, previous GLUE gatherings have always intentionally showcased neighborhoods in the host city along a spectrum of ‘revitalization,’” GLUE Director and Detroit resident Sarah Szurpicki remarked, “but our partnerships in Pittsburgh have taken that to a new level.  We have been more inclusive, more collaborative, and more community-focused than ever.  And I think you’ll see the evidence of that at the conference.”

Previous conference attendees have included students, architects, filmmakers, aldermen, urban planners, foundation program officers, community organizers, conservationists, and artists.  This year’s out of town participants will be as interdisciplinary, and will supplement a Pittsburgh cohort that includes 15 scholarships for members of the Larimer Consensus Group, underwritten by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

In addition to the URA, the conference is being sponsored by the Benedum Foundation, the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, and Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc.

Details about the agenda, registration, and logistics of the event can be found at

** The agenda sketch, below, is subject to change.  However, all sessions are open to the press.  Please contact Sarah Szurpicki for more information:




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One response to “Fourth GLUE Conference Coming Up in Pittsburgh

  1. Pingback: GLUE Conference coming to Larimer - City-Data Forum

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