The 8th Big Idea Challenge Comes to Sacramento – Next City

Support our urban affairs internship for a journalist of color.

$10,000 goal

The 8th Big Idea Challenge Comes to Sacramento

Sacramento, CA – September 17, 2019. Next City, a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world, is coming to Sacramento. Each year Next City hosts an event called the Vanguard conference, an experiential leadership gathering of rising urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors, including urban planning, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation, sustainability, design, art and media. Throughout the event, participants will learn about Sacramento’s challenges and opportunities from local leaders and practitioners. These top innovators will then work together to come up with Big Ideas that will improve the City of Sacramento during the Big Idea Challenge, open to the public. 

This year, our Big Idea spotlights the I Street Gateway — Old Sacramento Waterfront. As it exists today, this northern entrance to Old Sacramento Waterfront sets a stark and foreboding tone for guests’ arrival to the 28-acre historic entertainment district. 

Mayor Darrell Steinberg noted that the Vanguard Conference is arriving in Sacramento at an opportune time, given the City Council’s recent vote to dedicate up to $47 million in hotel tax revenue to revamping the waterfront district.

“Great cities need destinations, and we’re poised to remake our Old Sacramento Waterfront into a must-see destination for out-of-town visitors and a place where local residents routinely come to enjoy their free time. I’m looking forward to the contributions of the talented group participating in the Vanguard Conference.” 

Nestled along the banks of the Sacramento River and immediately adjacent to the thriving downtown area, the Old Sacramento Waterfront is physically disconnected from the rest of the city by Interstate 5 (I-5), which has proven to be a visual and psychological barrier to accessing the district.  When traveling westbound on I Street from 5th Street, a driver has a number of confusing options to enter the Old Sacramento Waterfront. Wayfinding to the district is limited and confusing, with limited active transportation options, and no defining gateway beacon or signage welcoming guests currently exists. 

Vanguards will recommend elements that can transform the I Street approach from its current, lackluster form into a vibrant and welcoming gateway to Old Sacramento Waterfront, incorporating placemaking and wayfinding elements that evoke a positive emotional response and support a variety of mobility options.  There is tremendous opportunity to increase connectivity through this gateway, and to convey clear and concise parking and programming information to guests, setting the tone for an elevated experience in the district.

Proposals should seek to improve perceptions of Sacramento’s downtown neighborhoods and encourage activity in the public realm.

Join the conference on Thursday, October 3 at 5:30 p.m. at The Barn, 985 Riverfront St, West Sacramento, CA 95691. Registration is free and beer and hors d’oeuvres will be served. For more information, visit

Next City would like to thank our current sponsors:

Vanguard Sacramento Sponsors

« Back to Press

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×