I’ve been on the communications team at TransForm since 2013, so it’s safe to say that I’ve organized and attended my fair share of events. But Saturday, May 7 was my first time attending our Let’s Get Moving! Summit in Silicon Valley. After working behind the scenes on this Summit for the past three years, it was something else entirely to be at the event in person.
When I wasn’t handing out nametags and live-tweeting up a storm, I had a chance to experience the power of this gathering. Here are a few highlights:
I got to meet so many of the advocates, volunteers, and students who are an integral part of the movement to bring better transportation and housing choices to Silicon Valley - like Mariaclara Zazzaro, a student at San Jose State University who spent the day volunteering with me at registration. Mariaclara is graduating (in a few weeks!) with her master’s degree in urban planning, and wanted to attend the Summit because she cares deeply about keeping the Bay Area an affordable place for low-income people to live and get around. She wrote her thesis on waterfront development, and will hopefully soon be shaping the future of some important projects in the Bay Area! It is because of the support and vision from people like Mariaclara that we are able to move the needle on these important issues in California.
I got to hear from incredible speakers who are tackling the biggest issues in the region and launching innovative projects to help solve them. I was very interested in attending the presentation by Dr. Karen Chapple on UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project. During her session she explained the difference between “gentrification” and “displacement.” Gentrification is “the process of neighborhood change characterized by new real estate investments and an influx of new residents with higher income and educational levels,” while displacement is “when a household moves for reasons beyond their control.” Dr. Chapple discussed how households near transit are at the highest risk of displacement, underscoring the importance of policies to preserve and expanding affordable housing near public transit. I also got a chance to play with the new GreenTRIP Connect webtool at GreenTRIP Director Ann Cheng’s session.
And I got to see Chris Lepe in action! As our Senior Community Planner for Silicon Valley, Chris holds down the TransForm fort in the South Bay – and wears a lot of hats in the process. He is a community organizer, a convener of the region’s most important players, a policy analyst, a writer, an event planner, a dedicated advocate, and an ally to so many partners who are aligned with our mission. Not only that, he’s a valued coworker who inspires us with his limitless energy and commitment to making California a more connected place where people of all backgrounds, incomes, ages, and abilities can live affordably and get around reliably without a car.
If you were there on Saturday, you also know that the Summit rocked – literally. After the closing remarks, we were treated to a rain-free outdoor concert by Candelaria, which was a perfect way to celebrate the invigorating day we had all spent together.
All in all, it was a truly inspiring day and a testament to how big things happen when great minds come together. The great urban planner Jane Jacobs would have celebrated her 100th birthday day last week, and being at the Let’s Get Moving! 2016 Summit reminded me of my favorite of her quotes:
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Certainly this Summit embodies the ideal of people coming together to plan for a better future for all.
But that’s not the end of it!
View all the highlights from social media on our Storify page (spoiler alert - #LetsGetMoving16 was trending on Twitter that day!).
Check out the results from our live polling that we did throughout the day – such a cool way to capture the energy, perspectives, and high degree of consensus among Summit participants.
Find an upcoming meeting near you where you can get more involved in transportation, land use, and planning decisions in Silicon Valley.
We are immensely grateful for the generosity and support of our Champion Sponsor, Microsoft. We also owe many thanks to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Lyft, and Mineta Transportation Institute for their sponsorship.
But of course, the Let’s Get Moving! Summit is nothing without the volunteers, staff, and partners who literally make it happen. Huge thanks to our partners: Alliance for Climate Education, ATU Local 265, California Walks, Friends of Caltrain, Greenbelt Alliance, Island Press, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Palo Alto Forward, People Acting in Community Together (PACT), Sacred Heart, San Mateo County Health System, Scoop, SF Urban Film Fest, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, SJSU Urban and Regional Planning Department, SPUR, Sunnyvale Cool, SV@Home, Urban Habitat, Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (VIDA), and Working Partnerships USA.