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Dallas Hosting Two Summits Aimed At Creating Better Cities

Dallas Arts District
The New Cities summit is bringing world leaders to the Dallas Arts District.

This week, Dallas is hosting top city planners and officials at two big conferences.  On Friday, 200 mayors from around the country will be here to discuss issues like education and urban poverty.  On Tuesday, 800 public, business and academic leaders from 40 countries are meeting in the arts district at the third New Cities Summit.

Ever sit in a rush hour traffic jam and think there must be a better way to get around?  Or you turn on your radio and learn the air pollution is so bad you should limit outdoor activity. Then there are the water shortages forcing a city like Wichita Falls to recycle its wastewater for drinking.

We know these are North Texas’ challenges. 

John Rossant, founder of the New Cities Foundation and this conference, says those same challenges are being faced by nearly every growing city in the world. 

“A couple of years ago mankind for the first time in history passed the threshold of more than half the human population is living in cities. So we have to get cities right,” he said.

Instead of mayors just meeting with mayors, academics with academics, or corporate executives with their peers, Rossant brings together the best innovators from various disciplines and urges them to think big.  

“So get a real multi-stakeholder conversation going where we can all work and figure out better solutions to big urban problems," he said.

Dallas is hosting this third annual conference after Paris and Sao Paulo.  Those invited will share ideas for improving transportation and using technology to connect their citizens. Lady Barbara Judge will talk about how cities can better include their senior citizens. She chairs the UK Pension Protection Fund in London, so taking care of the elderly is something she thinks a lot about.

“I think they need interpersonal connection," she said. "I think they need to meet people. I think they need public transportation so they can go out.  I think they need to have inclusive ways to be involved in the arts and frankly I think they are a great source of help for younger people."

The conferees will also examine the success of the Dallas Arts District, which is where they’re meeting.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says the arts district is a prime reason the conference chose to come here.

“When you look at the great cities of the world they’re realizing that arts and culture are a major driver not only in quality of life but in economic development,” Rawlings said. “The fact that Dallas over the last 15, 20 years has created one of the finest cultural arts districts in the world says that other cities are going to learn from it.”

Rawlings says the New Cities Summit, which has drawn international journalists, is a great opportunity for Dallas to be seen on the international stage while exploring solutions that are working in other cities.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.