What will Montreal look like in the future and how can we make it a better place now? These are the questions the Next City Vanguards will be tackling from May 31 to June 3 at a conference in one of North America’s largest cities.
The theme of this year’s gathering will focus on accessibility in the very broadest sense to include places, services, economic activity and development, food security, housing, culture and safe environment.
The Vanguard is an annual experiential urban leadership gathering of the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors, including urban planning, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation, sustainability, design, art and media.
The initiative was launched by Next City, a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world. Each year, it selects applicants under the age of 40 (this year there are 45 from a pool of 700) whose smart ideas for cities, experience in the field and ambition for the future all show great promise.
2017 Vanguard Fellows
The 2017 Vanguard Fellows include change makers from Fortune 500 companies, philanthropy, academia and all levels of government, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, mayoral offices and municipal agencies of major cities including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Indianapolis, New York and Montreal as host city. It includes policymakers and politicians, architects and urban planners, artists and advocates, all selected through a competitive application process.
“Promising young innovators from around the world sought the opportunity to share knowledge and insights on the future of cities,” says Next City President Tom Dallessio. “Next City is thrilled to welcome the 2017 Vanguards, and we look forward to gathering in Montreal to empower the next generation of urban leaders.”
Concordia University is the lead sponsor for the conference and is working with a committee of local leaders to welcome the 2017 Vanguard class.
“We see this as a great fit with the university’s strategic direction to embrace the city and embrace the world,” says Concordia President Alan Shepard. “I look forward to hearing from the Vanguard Fellows and learning more about their innovative ideas to chart a course towards a more sustainable and accessible city.”
The four-day experiential conference will culminate in the “Big Idea Challenge,” a design-focused collaboration wherein teams of Vanguards will use their own expertise and the knowledge gained through site visits and discussions to work together with community members to co-create accessibility solutions. These solutions will be shared at an event, open to the public.
Both Dallesio and Shepard view this as an opportunity to learn from these urban innovators. “It will help us develop lasting networks and potential partnerships that will benefit the city and the university,” says Shepard. Adds Dallesio, “It also provides a unique opportunity for a city to show off its latest urban development projects while getting to know the next generation of urban leaders.”