Jeffrey Williams’ 2018 ULI Fall Meeting Blog
When offered the opportunity to attend the ULI Fall Meeting, I jumped at the chance. I prepared myself to participate in the Meeting’s events and activities as a long tenured government official looking to gain greater perspective on how our department’s clients and customers see the world of development. However, my take away was far greater than that singularly focused perspective. Whether the topic was housing, commercial development, gateways cities, emerging markets or long established economic powerhouses, I was truly impressed with the continued focus on the human aspects and influences of the built environment within those varied development types and contexts.
Throughout the course of the Fall Meeting, I became acutely aware that ULI as an organization is looking to expand its understanding of how to encourage the creation of environments that fulfill the needs of people who in the past have been marginalized from the social, cultural or socio-economic perspective. While there was a focus on Meeting participants and partners of ULI becoming better equipped to facilitate large scale development in diverse environs across the globe, it was also clearly apparent that ULI is looking to support evaluating the success of these development activities through the lenses of overall community gains and individuals benefit.
Having participated in numerous conferences throughout my career as a land use planner, historic preservationist and local government official, I can say that the ULI Fall Meeting offered a unique structure that truly valued dedicating time for its participants to network, share best practices and identify partnership opportunities ranging from those deeply philanthropically to highly lucrative for their participants. As a voracious note taker, I steel myself for lots of writing and process diagraming as a conference attendee – knowing that is my preferred method of information retention. In capturing session content, I typically place a star next to those concepts shared by presenters that I believe are applicable for the work I am doing with a community or sometimes I sketch a light bulb followed by notes on an idea inspired by the presentation. In looking back at my Fall Meeting notes, there were a lot of light bulbs!
With the insight I gained through attending the Fall Meeting, I am excited to participate in future ULI activities with the expectation of gaining greater insight on the development profession while sharing the experiences of the communities that I have been fortunate in which to work as a way to provide insight to others.