Inaugural Symposium to Focus on Sustainable and Compassionate Communities
National and local panelists will discuss the 21st century challenges of American communities during an inauguration symposium at Alma College.
“Building Sustainable and Compassionate Communities in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities for Scholarship, Stewardship and Leadership” takes place at 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the Remick Heritage Center. Admission is free and open to the public.
(Top, L-R) Panelists Aaron Renn and Todd Swanstrom;
(Bottom, L-R) Panelists William Dilts and Dennis Aloia
Panelists include Aaron Renn, who is working with the City of Detroit on reclaiming urban space for agricultural purposes; Todd Swanstrom, an author and neighborhood planner who examines how the structure of metropolitan areas affects civic participation; William Dilts, Gratiot County commissioner who provided leadership on the Gratiot County Master Plan, the only county-wide master plan in the nation that has input and support from every government unit in the county; and Dennis Aloia, Grand Traverse County administrator who took part in the “Grand Vision” project, a citizen-led, consensus-based initiative to strengthen and improve six counties in northwest Michigan.
“The symposium builds on the theme of reimagining and building sustainable communities in the 21st century,” says Alma College President Jeff Abernathy. “We have attracted a remarkable set of panelists who are among the nation’s leaders in addressing how communities, both large and small, can thrive in the years ahead. It will be a provocative discussion that I hope will generate ideas that we can adopt here in our own community of Alma, Gratiot County and mid-Michigan region.”
The symposium will include opening presentations by each of the panelists and opportunities for questions from the audience. Micheal Vickery, co-director of the Alma College Center for Responsible Leadership, will moderate.
Panelist: Aaron Renn, urban affairs analyst, is publisher of the highly regarded Urbanophile, blog and author of many articles on urban renewal in the 21st century. He is on a mission to help America’s cities thrive in the 21st century global economy by discarding old stereotypes and adopting new strategies aimed at creating sustainable, everyday places for the majority of Americans to live, work and visit on an ongoing basis. He currently works with the City of Detroit on reclaiming urban space for agricultural purposes.
Panelist: Todd Swanstrom is the Des Lee Professor of Community Collaboration and Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His applied policy work includes serving as a neighborhood planner for the City of Cleveland and as staff director of Strategic Planning for the City of Albany. He is the author or co-author of 25 scholarly articles and six books, including Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century (2005). He has recently published research, sponsored by the Brookings Institution, on the prospects for alliances between central cities and distressed suburbs and on economic segregation among municipalities.
Panelist: William Dilts is an elected member of the Gratiot County Commission, coordinator of the Gratiot Collaborative Council, and co-director of Leadership Gratiot. He also serves on many non-profit boards around the area including the United Way, Greater Gratiot Development Corporation, and Patient Equipment Locker Transportation Board. He is an active member of Lions International and works on the Agriculture and Tourism Committee with the Michigan Association of Counties. He has spoken on sustainable communities and continually encourages collaboration between different economic, governmental and non-profit groups.
Panelist: Dennis Aloia has 34 years of experience in county government. He has spent the last 26 years as a county administrator or manager in Marquette, Mich., Seneca County, N.Y., and, since 2001, Grand Traverse County. He was involved in shaping the “Grand Vision” planning process that has produced a continuing collaborative effort by six counties in northwest Michigan to cooperatively address challenges and opportunities for sustainable community development. Aloia serves on many committees and boards, including the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. He has a bachelor of science degree in public administration and master’s degree in public administration/public management from Indiana University.