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VOL. 125 | NO. 173 | Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Conference Helps Create Sustainable Communities

SARAH BAKER | Special to The Daily News

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An upcoming conference will highlight the partnerships among the local, state and federal stakeholders working to make communities more sustainable.

The Sustainable Community Initiative and Choice Neighborhoods Initiatives have joined forces to host the West Tennessee Sustainable Neighborhoods Conference in hopes of making government run more efficiently, using new and alternative methods to unite the various federal agencies.

The Sustainable Community, which includes Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency, strives to nurture healthier, more inclusive communities by connecting housing to jobs, with affordable and accessible transportation, while promoting a clean energy economy.

On the other hand, the Choice Neighborhoods, made up of agencies such as Health and Human Sciences (HHS) and Department of Education (DOE), focuses more on rehabbing housing and bringing social services like job training, health improvement and raising education levels in low income communities.

The federal funding environment has undergone significant changes, causing a stronger and more formal emphasis on partnerships, said Emily Trenholm, executive director of the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis.

“We need to help our organizations as a community get up to speed,” Trenholm said. “People have been responding to grant and funding opportunities the same way forever, and it’s changing.”

The sustainability conference is set for Sept. 22 from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Memphis’ Fogelman Executive Conference Center, 330 Innovation Drive. Lunch and parking will be provided.

With the tagline, “Collaboration is the Name of the Game! … It’s not Just Letters of Support,” the conference will teach attendees about collaborative funding models and regional solutions that funders increasingly promote in the face of dwindling resources.

“It’s really designed to help us as a community to be competitive in this new federal funding environment,” Trenholm said.

John Gemmill, field office director for the Memphis office of HUD, said the conference’s efforts are geared toward promoting general education about the need for federal programs and local organizations to coordinate and fulfill inner agency collaboration.

“The conference is not so much about the grant programs that associate with the initiatives, but about thinking behind them,” Gemmill said. “The constituencies for the levels are different, and the conference is trying to bring it together.”

The first half of the conference will consist of four panels, each with three to four speakers and a discussion leader. Each session will run approximately 20 to 30 minutes, with time at the end for questions.

Attendees will then report their findings and explore solutions during an afternoon small group discussion. As the day comes to a close, a keynote speaker will tie all of the objectives together.

Karla Davis, director of urban strategies for Memphis Hope and a member of the conference planning committee, will be leading one of the panels about providing case management and social services in rental communities.

It is essential for members of the community to maintain a living for themselves and for their family, she said.

“Neighborhoods can become more sustainable by the community providing a place for people to live, work and play, safely and affordably,” Davis said.

Sponsors for the event include HUD, the Assisi Foundation of Memphis Inc., the University of Memphis, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis and Community Foundation for a Greater Memphis.

Additional support is provided by the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (CBANA), the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Office of Talent and Human Capital.

Because the conference is free, limited space is available. The deadline for registration is Friday at http://www.hud.gov/emarc/index.cfm?fuseaction=emar.registerEvent&eventId=594&update=N.

For additional information, contact Simisola Atolagbe at simisola.atolagbe@hud.gov or by calling 544-3817.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 64 87 1,429
MORTGAGES 39 60 1,107
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 14 204
BUILDING PERMITS 92 209 3,265
BANKRUPTCIES 42 84 837
BUSINESS LICENSES 21 23 352
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0