Next City Announces First Vanguard Australia Conference

This fall, Next City will host Vanguard Australia, and bring 50 of the best and brightest young urban thinkers and innovators from across the world together to learn from Newcastle, Australia’s ongoing transformation. The experiential leadership program will run November 6-10, 2017. Vanguard Australia will be the first Next City conference held outside of North America.

Newcastle is Australia’s largest legacy city and the world’s leading coal exporter. But a decade after the closure of a major steel mill, it is in the midst of a dynamic reinvention that holds lessons for other older industrial cities. Building upon Next City’s flagship Vanguard urban leadership program, Vanguard Australia will be the first gathering of its kind, bringing together young urban leaders to share ideas about diversifying manufacturing economies to compete in the 21st-century economy.

“Next City is thrilled to be coming to Newcastle for Vanguard Australia. This historic, regenerating city has so much to teach us about building the cities of the future,” said Tom Dallessio, president, CEO and publisher of Next City. “We look forward to bringing 50 of the best and brightest urban leaders from around the world together in Newcastle to share ideas for strengthening legacy cities across the globe.”

The Vanguard Australia program will be run by Next City in collaboration with a Newcastle-based host committee that includes representatives from UrbanGrowth NSW, the region’s urban development authority, as well as Newcastle City Council, the University of Newcastle, the Hunter Development Corporation, and Transport for New South Wales.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes welcomed the conference as another chance to promote Newcastle as a smart city after its progress has been acknowledged by the UN and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in the past two years.

“Council is very excited to host Next City’s Vanguard Australia and to showcase our city as an emerging tech-innovation center in the health, education, aerospace, defense and renewable energy sectors,” Lord Mayor Nelmes said. “The conference coincides with the ongoing revitalization works in our inner city and improvements in urban design across our suburbs, and will highlight our fantastic quality of life to a global audience.”

“This is the first time this prestigious conference has been hosted outside the Americas, and as a major sponsor, we’re incredibly pleased to be welcoming Vanguards to Newcastle,” said Nicole Campbell, UrbanGrowth NSW’s manager of collaborative learning. “We’re hoping to be able to learn as much from the visiting Vanguards and their experiences in other cities, as they will from Newcastle, and that the conference will establish an ongoing international dialogue between Newcastle and the next generation of city thinkers.”

Next City Vanguard programs bring together urban professionals working to improve cities. Solving urban problems means working across divides and breaking silos, so Vanguard convenes professionals across sectors, including architecture, art, civic technology, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation and urban planning. For each Vanguard conference, Next City selects applicants whose smart ideas for cities, experience in the field and ambition for the future all show great promise. The conference is free. All participants must pay for their own travel.  (Accommodations in Newcastle will be covered by the conference budget.) Fifty young urban innovators will be selected for Vanguard Australia through Next City’s application process, with 25 of those from Australia or New Zealand. Applicants from anywhere in the world are invited to apply for the remaining 25 slots. Priority will be given to applicants working in a legacy city or on issues of post-industrial economic development.

Vanguards from conferences dating back to 2009 have worked for the White House, founded successful city-focused startups such as Ioby and Fundrise, held municipal office, and climbed the ranks of influential organizations such as the Brookings Institution, the Urban Institute, Citi Group, Code for America, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Transportation Alternatives, Smart Growth America and the University of Chicago. Many come back to participate in subsequent conferences. With Vanguards growing to a group of 300-plus over the last eight years, Next City has established a program that advances the nonprofit’s mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world.

Vanguard Australia will include workshops, tours and conversations about the economic, environmental, technological and cultural trends reshaping legacy cities.  Vanguards will have the opportunity to work with a small group of Newcastle-based organizations to devise solutions to local challenges. The program will culminate in Next City’s Big Idea Challenge. The winning idea will be funded by Next City and implemented in Newcastle in the year following the conference.

Applications for Vanguard Australian open June 20, 2017, and must be received before August 1. Vanguards from all past conferences are welcome to apply and if accepted will be included in the Vanguard Australia cohort.

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