Five Reasons to Apply to the Fifth Annual Vanguard

Still on the fence about applying to the 5th annual Vanguard conference? Here are five (of many) reasons you may want to throw your hat in the ring.

2013 Vanguard Melissa Sobolik is the only woman and the youngest elected official in Fargo, N.D.

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Still on the fence about applying to the 5th annual Vanguard Conference? Here are 5 reasons that just may tip the scale and convince you to hit “send” on that application:

1. Participate in a national conversation about the issues you care about (at this year’s conference and future gatherings!)

The conference workshops, sessions, tour and mixers are designed to do just that. Hailing from dozens of cities, Vanguards work across such various sectors as urban planning, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation, sustainability, design, art and media. Whether it’s through participant-led unconference sessions and facilitated workshops or casually over a coffee, Vanguards have plenty of opportunity to share, discuss, brainstorm and debate with other great minds — including Vanguard alumni, who are invited back each year.

2. The Vanguard has a unique, constructive conference format.

We’ve all been to conferences where workshops only scratch the surface. Vanguard is not one of those conferences. But don’t take it from us. “Whereas many conferences mush into a maelstrom of competing self-promotion, the folks at this convening were focused on the what-if; the what-could-be; the let’s-try-it-and-see-what-happens,” writes 2013 Vanguard Megan Dickerson in a conference recap post.

3. Gain valuable exposure for your work from Next City and other media outlets.

How do we share Vanguards’ work and nurture this incredible network? We take every opportunity to spotlight the important work Vanguards are doing, whether by inviting their participation in a Next City event or featuring Vanguards’ work here on the site. We also keep Vanguards in the loop about upcoming events, jobs and more. Some alumni even come on as Next City contributors, like Michael Allen, Sam Butler, and Ryan Lugalia-Hollon to name just a few.

4. Explore Chattanooga through ‘off-the-beaten-track’ tours, as well as by workshopping means for tackling local challenges and presenting ideas to the public.

Bring your experiences and perspective to a new city. Each host city has innovations to share and presents unique challenges; tours organized by the local host committee provide Vanguards with a vantage point see what the city has accomplished and where it would like to go. Last year, Vanguards explored over 30 locations across Cleveland — by bike, boat and trolley. Chattanooga is hungry for ideas. This year’s Vanguards will be given a map, provided four options and tasked with a challenge.

5. Join this growing network of energetic changemakers.

These are the men and women who are shaping tomorrow’s urban environment — and this conference is a unique opportunity to make connections and collaborate. Detroit-based 2013 Vanguard Dekonti Mends-Cole applied to participate thinking that the conference would be a resume-booster.

“Little did I know that it would introduce me to a real not virtual network of urban innovators that would expand my problem solving toolkit,” Mends-Cole shares. “In the six months following the conference, I met 2009 Vanguard Mara D’Angelo in Baltimore who shared best practice strategies to blight elimination which are now informing our approach in Detroit.”

“In New York, fellow 2013 Vanguard Nicholas Hamilton made an introduction to an open data expert who is now working with the City of Detroit to improve residents’ access to City data. I connected D.C.’s Dan Miller, another alum from 2013, with a local organization that is interested in bringing the Fundrise model to ‘the D’. In addition to trotting around the country and collecting brilliant ideas to bring back to Detroit, as a Vanguard, I was given the amazing opportunity to present a personal story on my work to a national audience at the Next City 10th Anniversary.”

Have we piqued your curiosity yet? The deadline to apply to the Vanguard conference is Friday, February 14 — just one week away! Don’t spend your Valentine’s Day toiling over your application. Learn more and apply today.

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Tags: next city vanguard

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