Public x Design: Agenda For Action

Our Annual Conference on Public Life

Beginning today, Gehl Institute is convening its second annual public life conference, Public x Design, in Philadelphia. Public x Design will bring together over 100 practitioners, researchers, and experts from around the world to collectively explore potentials and share actions to reclaim the public in public life and the public realm. Participants will be joining us from 36 cities in seven countries, including 47 local leaders from Philadelphia.

Last year’s inaugural convening, Act Urban, asked participants, “What is public life?” We discovered many dynamic definitions, ambitions, and visions. Public x Design will build on this foundation to create an agenda for action that will activate solutions for healthy, equitable, thriving cities.

What does it mean to host a conference on public life in 2017? It is certainly an inspiring time for public space advocates, with more people recognizing the critical role of public spaces in improving community health, addressing climate change, and providing platforms for civic engagement. It is also a trying moment. In America and elsewhere, we must continue to confront a deepening truth: that public life is unevenly experienced at best. Growing inequality is escalating in nearly every dimension and corner of the world. You can see it in how we organize the public realm, including who gets to participate and who gets left out. This tension lies at the core of our work.

Public x Design brings together an incredible network of civic champions to learn from one another and channel our talents into crafting an agenda to ensure a better public life for all. We remain inspired and optimistic about the future of design, planning, and grassroots organizing in achieving this vision.

To see the full program for Public x Design, check out the event’s website.

Thank you to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and William Penn Foundation for their generous support.