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Group of people touring Milwaukee's Deer District

This past year has been a mixed bag for many of us, but it was a big one for CNU Wisconsin. 2021 marked the chapter’s ten year anniversary, and ten years since urban professionals from across the country flocked to Madison for CNU 19. Now as we look back at the last decade, our chapter is also looking forward to more opportunities for members to stay informed and connected.

As members may know, our board recently organized three days of events with CNU’s new executive director, Rick Cole. The series featured seminars at the University of Wisconsin in both Madison and Milwaukee, several tours, and meetings of local leaders. One message from Cole and other leaders in the movement was clear: as CNU’s founding principles—those of walkable urbanism—become mainstream, now is an important time of growth and evolution for the organization and its members. It’s a time to reflect on how New Urbanism can respond to new needs (especially in light of COVID-19) and be more inclusive.

Rick Cole sitting at a table with three others
CNU Executive Director (bottom right) and guests at Victory Manor in Milwaukee discuss how mental models impact cities. Photo credit: Adele White.

During the three-day series, local CNU members visited the state’s first New Urbanist development, Middleton Hills, with project manager and chapter board member, Jane Grabowski-Miller. They also visited some of the largest recent projects in the state, including those along Madison’s fast-growing eastern corridor and in Milwaukee’s Deer District, where the removal of the Park East Freeway twenty years ago under Mayor John Norquist made way for the now-bustling home of the Milwaukee Bucks. Finally, after breakfast with Christian ministry leaders interested in new urbanism, they gathered at the community room in Victory Manor, one of the newest developments at Westlawn Gardens, for lunch and an afternoon workshop on New Urbanism, systems thinking, and equity. Westlawn Gardens was recognized in 2012 with CNU’s Charter Award.

Our chapter thanks its many partners—Downtown Madison, Inc., Milwaukee Downtown, the urban planning departments at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Ministries in Place, Invisible Reality Ministries, the Proximity Project, Teens Grow Greens, the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, the Institute for Systems Change and Peacebuilding, and others—for making these events possible. We look forward to connecting with more champions and designers of walkable places in the new year.

By Chris McCahill, CNU Wisconsin Board Member