Award-Winning Speakers Headline Sustainability Conference

10th Annual Growing Sustainable Communities Conference Slated Oct. 3-4

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Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 2:55 pm

DUBUQUE, Iowa – An Oscar winning filmmaker, a Peabody Award winning broadcaster and a “Champion of Change” climate and resiliency planner are set to address attendees at this year’s Growing Sustainable Communities Conference, which celebrates its 10th anniversary at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque on Oct. 3-4.

Louie Psihoyos, Majora Carter and Kristin Baja will deliver the keynote and plenary addresses at the conference. Registration is open at, and early bird rates apply through Aug. 27.

Louie Psihoyos, who will present the keynote address on Wednesday, Oct. 4, is widely regarded as one of the world's most prominent still photographers. He has circled the globe dozens of times for National Geographic and has shot hundreds of covers for other magazines including Fortune Magazine, Smithsonian, Discover, GEO, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine and Sports Illustrated.

Psihoyos' first documentary film, "The Cove," has won more than 100 awards globally from festivals and critics, became the first documentary in history to sweep all the film guilds and won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2009. In his newest film, "Racing Extinction," a team of artists and activists expose the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that change the way we see the planet.

Psihoyos is currently in production on a documentary with executive producer James Cameron about elite athletes who have adopted plant-based diets.

Majora Carter, will deliver a keynote address entitled “Home(town) Security” on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Ms. Carter is a leading urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation & implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training & placement systems.

At Sustainable South Bronx, Carter deployed MIT's first ever Mobile Fab-Lab (digital fabrication laboratory) to the South Bronx - where it served as an early iteration of the "Maker-Spaces" found elsewhere today. The project drew residents and visitors together for guided and creative collaborations.

After establishing Sustainable South Bronx and Green For All (among other organizations) to carry on that work, she opened a private consulting firm to help spread the message and success of social enterprise and economic development in “low-status” communities - which was named Best for the World by B-Corp. Clients include industry leaders in many fields, municipal and federal government agencies, and leading educational institutions across the United States.

From this vantage point, Carter co-founded the now 750+ member Bronx Tech Meetup, as well as the StartUpBox Software Services company which is rebuilding the entry level tech job pipeline by using market forces and established business practices to help diversify the U.S. tech sector. Clients include, PlayDots, and GIPHY, among others.

Kristin Baja, who will deliver the morning plenary address on Wednesday, Oct. 4, is serving as the Urban Sustainability Directors Network's first climate resilience officer. In this role, she is responsible for helping cities identify strategic ways to advance climate resilience planning and implementation, and building their capacity to take action.

She spends the majority of her time supporting cities and facilitating deeper relationships between local governments and other stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic region. Her work will help to accelerate the implementation of on-the-ground action, while advancing learning, collaboration, and momentum around climate resilience.

Prior to working at USDN, Baja was the Climate and Resiliency Planner for the City of Baltimore Office of Sustainability, where she was a Certified Floodplain Manager responsible for the city’s floodplain management program and for development and implementation of the City's Disaster Preparedness Project and Plan, which integrated climate adaptation with hazard mitigation efforts. She was recognized by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change for work on climate and equity while in this role.

The Growing Sustainable Communities Conference is the largest and longest standing sustainability conference in the Midwest, according to City of Dubuque officials who have hosted the conference annually since 2008. Sustainable City Network, a Dubuque-based trade magazine, has co-hosted the event with the City since 2011.

The conference includes more than 30 workshops, mobile tours, and keynote presentations on the latest developments in community sustainability and resiliency initiatives.

This year’s conference will include workshop speakers with a wide range of expertise, including representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Government Alliance on Race & Equity, the Arbor Day Foundation, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Econservation Institute, Great Plains Institute, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, the Iowa Clean Cities Coalition, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, and businesses such as General Electric, HDR, Shive-Hattery, and many others.

Speakers from municipal governments large and small will also present case studies on the sustainability initiatives in their respective communities, from large cities like Minneapolis, New Orleans, Nashville, Kansas City, Charlotte, and Des Moines, to Broward County, Fla., and the small and mid-sized communities of Brookings, S.D.; Columbia, Mo.; Huntington Beach, Calif.; South Euclid, Ohio; Madison, Wis.; New Lebanon, Ohio; and the Iowa communities of Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, Cedar Falls, and Dubuque. Researchers from numerous universities and nonprofits will also present their findings.

Workshop topics at this year’s event include tree canopy projects and programs, watershed and stormwater management, brownfield redevelopment, solar energy, small-town sustainability, biogas conversion, equity, placemaking, livability, climate action planning, education/community partnerships, mobility planning and design, sustainability tools and frameworks, alternative fuel vehicles, green building and sustainable development, local foods, LED streetlight conversions, affordable housing initiatives, green infrastructure, sustainability metrics, training, and community engagement, among others.

Complete workshop descriptions can be found on the conference web site.

The conference will feature three mobile tours, two keynote luncheons, a breakfast plenary session, a networking reception and dozens of vendors and exhibitors. Several hotels are within walking distance of the Grand River Center. See the conference web site for contact information and special room rates.

More than 500 people from across the U.S. are expected to attend the event. Attendees annually include elected officials, municipal senior management and staff, as well as private-sector business leaders, university administrators, faculty, and students.

The conference is supported by Crescent Electric Supply Co. and other corporate sponsors.

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