Nebraska Planning Conference 2021 – The Recap

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In consideration of the chaotic mess that the world has been over the past couple years, it feels good when something actually goes well. By all accounts this year’s Nebraska Planning Conference did just that.

Three days of sessions provided an excellent learning opportunity in the planning and zoning field.

Mitchell Silver

At the center of this year’s conference was keynote speaker Mitchell Silver, FAICP (@mitchell_silver). As New York City Parks Commissioner, Mitchell J. Silver oversees the management, planning and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of parkland in the City. He was also president of the American Planning Association from 2011 to 2013. Mitch was the first African American to hold the position.

The video below of Mitch speaking is from the Kinder Institute Forum. Though a different speech, it has many similarities to the impactful one he presented at the Nebraska Planning Conference this year. Witnessing his speech first hand, you could feel his passion for providing safe and accessible park spaces that provide great experiences to the residents who use them.

Lauren Driscoll

The other keynote of the conference was Lauren Driscoll, AICP (@lmkdiva). Laurent is the Director of Community & Development Services for Salina, Kansas and has been heavily involved with the American Planning Association at the national level. She has a notable amount of experience in economic development in housing.

Although Lauren’s keynote speech was on rural challenges and hopes, she had another session on housing. As with Mitch, I had watched Lauren speak before. Also as with Mitch, Lauren is a great speaker with points that make you think.

For her keynote, Lauren discussed how COVID has impacted rural America and how it will later impact the future of rural communities. She also presented another session entitled “Quick We Need Housing!” The session details how Salina, Kansas, is adjusting to the impacts of a substantial employment expansion. Economic development is the top goal of many communities. But providing the housing needed to support new economic development can become a significant hurdle. She discussed the process, policies and partnerships necessary to make new housing happen for the community.

Once again, the Nebraska Planning Conference (#NEPC) proved to be an affordable source of planning and zoning information for small town city clerks, planning commissioners, and rural county zoning administrators.