The New City: Our 2020Visions Conference, Coming Soon

December 3-5, 2020

Cities are always transforming: The medieval walled citadel becomes the smoke-filled industrial center, which transforms into the 21st-century culture hub.  COVID-19 has accelerated change in many areas. Instead of the public square, the café, or the street, computer screens are where we meet.   

2020Visions is using this tumultuous moment when things have cracked apart as an opportunity to deploy our imaginations—perhaps even to redefine the city entirely.  Journey with us to reimagine: how can we make urban spaces more equitable, greener, smarter, better planned (yet always with a touch of anarchy), and more fulfilling?  Or dream them into something amazing we haven’t even imagined yet?

On December 3-5, a gathering, The New City, will bring together anyone who loves (or fears, or despairs for) urban spaces, to explore new horizons, including issues of technology, creativity, sustainability, economic growth, equity, and inner peace—and ends with illuminating a path for a new generation to “design forward.”  Above all, we will probe unexpected solutions.

We will ask you: what is the ideal city you would like to inhabit? Take a moment and imagine. Maybe, by the end of the conference, your answer will change. Come and find out.  

The Conference Metrocard (free) includes tickets to 22+ events. The Conference Passport ($40) includes tickets to every event (the opening, centerpiece, and closing conversations). Tickets to featured conversations with Andrew Yang (opening), Sir David Adjaye & Matthew Ryder (centerpiece), and Dror & SuperNature Labs (closing), are $15 per session. There’s something for everyone in The New City—see what awaits!


Our Program 

Program listings are in Eastern Standard Time. All events are FREE except where indicated.

Thursday, December 3

11:30AM  Welcome:  Carey Lovelace, founder, 2020Visions; Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president, Union Theological Seminary. We ask the question: What is the city you would love to have exist?  Land Acknowledgement 

12PM The City Creative:  The Artistic Imagination and New Models of Society – Leading creators of revolutionary “social sculpture.”  Artists Judy Baca, Suzanne Lacy, Rick Lowe, others.  Moderator: Carey Lovelace

2PM Acknowledging the Past, Shaping the Future – Indigenous rights and how we heal the history on which U.S. cities are built.  Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president, Union Theological Seminary; Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Seneca Nations, Iroquois Confederacy.

4PM The City Sacred: History, Politics, and the Sustainable – Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president, Union Theological Seminary;  Garrison Institute founder Jonathan Rose, author of The Well-Tempered-City

6PM Featured Conversation: Andrew Yang – Tech entrepreneur and proponent of a guaranteed annual income, the former Presidential Candidate is also the founder of Ventures for America (VFA), which connects young professionals to innovative companies in economically challenged cities. Moderator, Dr. Vishakha Desai, will ask him how he uses his own imagination to “dream forward.”  (Special ticket:  $15)

8PM The Virtual City: The Metropolis of Zoom – Will the online world be our “new city?” Ford Foundation Technology Fellow Salome Asega; futurist Michael Rogers; TED Talks’ Carla Zanoni. Moderator: Kate Gardiner

9:45PM  Recap of Friday Events – Yona Backer and Elizabeth Thompson of 2020Visions summarize the day and outline what lies ahead.

“An archive of collective memory and exuberant testimony/ A luminous map to navigate an opaque and disorienting present/ An infinite geography of possible futures” Random House, 2020.

Friday, December 4th

11:00AM City of Equity: Economy and Prosperity – Jay Bailey, CEO, H.J. Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship;  Valerie De La Rosa, Founder, Trend Innovation Lab, and others

12:00PM  City of Equity: Ensuring Fair Policing – Frederick Davie, Chair, N.Y. Civilian Complaint Review Board; Susan Hutson, Independent Police Monitor, New Orleans; and others 

1PM  City of Equity: Health Management for All – Don Blanchon, CEO, Whitman-Walker Health System;  others

2PM How Will COVID-19 Shape Our City – And Beyond? Moderator: architect Michael Patrick Porter

4PM The Wired City: How Technology is Shaping Our Future – Rohit T. Aggarwala, Head of Urban Systems, Sidewalk Labs;  artist/technologist Mary Ellen Carroll; others

6PM Featured Centerpiece – Architect Sir David Adjaye; lawyer Matthew Ryder, former London Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement. “How Architecture Can Change Society.” Moderator: Yona Backer. (Special ticket:  $15)

7PM  Black Futures: The Radical, Imaginative, Provocative, and Gorgeous World – Authors Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham speak about their just-released but already influential new book.

8PM Future Cities: Inspiration Sustainability – Architects Vanessa Keith and Matthijs Bouw describe large-scale, visionary, city-oriented projects that leapfrog over environmental challenges and move us into the future.

9:45PM  Recap of Friday’s Discoveries – Yona Backer and Elizabeth Thompson of 2020Visions summarize the day.

Saturday, December 5

8AM The City Creative: Global Social Practice – Artists log in live from around the world to describe their social sculpture. Lee Chun-Fung (Hong Kong), Christoph Schäffer (Germany), Pedro X. Almeida / Tranvia Cero collective (Ecuador), and Zuloark (Spain).  Moderator: Betti-Sue Hertz, director and chief curator, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University

10AM The City Creative: Eco-Art – Sculpting to save the earth. Artists Mary Miss, Kayla Weisdorf, Lauren Bon, Nicole Mackinlay Hahn. Moderator: Amei Wallach

12PM Urban Farming: Strategies for Food Security – Artist Leslie Labowitz Starus and others

2PM Sustainability and Ethics: All About Water – A distinguished panel led by Karenna Gore discusses environmental inequities around the country and world, and some thrilling new technologies that may change it all. Columbia University’s Kartik Chandran, global leader in sustainable wastewater treatment and resource recovery; Catherine Coleman Flowers, founder, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice; Paul Gallay, president, Riverkeeper.  Moderator: Karenna Gore, founder/ director, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary

3:30PM Open Forum: New Models of Education – Gisele Castro, Executive Director, ExaltYouth; Dr. David Kirkland, Executive Director, NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools;  Dr. Lisette Nieves, Director of Educational Leadership, Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

4:30PM Designing the Future – Training tomorrow's architects and planners to build a better world. Ravi Rajan, president, California Institute of the Arts; architect Kelly D. Powell;  architect/interior designer Jack Travis;  architect James Wines, founder, SITE. Moderator: Dorothy Dunn

6PM Closing Event: SuperNature Labs! – Dror Benshetrit presents the soft launch of his new environmental and design think tank, generating new structural principles to reshape our vision of space.  Guest appearances. Moderator: Elizabeth Thompson (Special ticket:  $15)

8PM Summary and Conclusion – How have our ideas about possibilities changed, our horizons expanded? Conference principals invite you to assess what we have discovered — and where we go from here? Union Theological’s Serene Jones, Rita Walters, and Robin Reese and 2020Visions’ Carey Lovelace, James Andrews, Yona Backer, and Elizabeth Thompson.

9:30PM Closing Celebration – Music, creativity, dancing. . . (and fun fun fun.)

As the founder of SITE, an architecture firm most widely known for their seminal series of stores for BEST in the 1970s, James Wines (see) is a rebel and ironic critic in the field of architecture. (See panel “Designing the Future,” Saturday, 4:30PM)

We will be inviting you to join us on a new platform, Topia, which will—in this time of social distancing—allow us to meet, if only through avatars.  Link will follow. Come check it out!  It’s fun!

The Dubai skyline has been recreated as a 740-piece Lego set that includes the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Frame. Courtesy Lego 
The Dubai skyline has been recreated as a 740-piece Lego set that includes the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, the Dubai Fountain, and Dubai Frame. Courtesy Lego 

Above all…

Support us by becoming a member: join our 2020Visions community. One of the benefits of membership include joining the “studio audience” to see this exciting programming from the inside!

Imagine how you would recreate “the city…?” It awaits!