By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) and Kirkpatrick Foundation will present the National Urban Ecosystems Forum in Oklahoma City on Friday and Saturday, September 28 and 29.
The forum will bring together multi-disciplinary leaders from Oklahoma City and around the United States to discuss urban development projects that successfully address the opportunities and challenges for nature in an urban environment. Participants will discuss how to restore and maintain healthy and beautiful cities for all species, while considering financial constraints and environmental changes. They will also share what doctrines designers, developers, and local leaders must uphold.
Forum attendees will tour some of Oklahoma City’s open space developments that are examples of public-private partnerships that have proven successful for the city, such as the 17-acre Myriad Botanical Gardens and interactive urban park and Scissortail Park, a 70-acre urban development currently under construction also in downtown Oklahoma City.
“This week’s forum is in response to the dramatic climate-related changes and population pressures experienced by cities and their residents,” said Kirkpatrick Foundation executive director Louisa McCune. “City leaders need multi-disciplinary strategies to maintain healthy urban ecosystems for all impacted species.
“This is no easy task. How cities develop context-sensitive solutions to restore, preserve, and grow while maintaining natural environments is challenging and time sensitive,” said McCune. “We believe that understanding the relationship between building and natural environments is critical to understanding how cities and regions develop with people, plants, and animals in mind.
“At the National Urban Ecosystems Forum, we hope to highlight transformative and durable public-private partnership projects that improve quality of life in cities—for people, animals, and the natural environment,” McCune said. “These projects and the professionals who steward their success have created places that engender the public’s affinity and education about the importance of sustainable development.”
For more than 15 years, the American Architectural Foundation has been committed to empowering leaders to transform their communities with design. By joining with the Kirkpatrick Foundation, AAF will engage leaders to plan and develop better models that allow nature and the city to coexist.
“AAF is thrilled to be partnering with the Kirkpatrick Foundation to look more deeply into the elements that define the Urban Ecosystem and to identify strategies and knowledge that can help civic leaders more effectively address the full spectrum of decisions that impact the quality of life in cities,” said Ron Bogle, AAF president and CEO. “We are proud to showcase Oklahoma City through this effort.”
AAF will publish a report in October 2017 summarizing the forum.
“Tomorrow and Friday, we invite you to join the conversation in the digital sphere by using the hashtag #urbanecoforum,” McCune said.
“During this two-day retreat, twenty-one multi-disciplinary thought leaders from Oklahoma and across the United States will present and discuss projects that successfully address the opportunities and ongoing challenges for the coexistence of nature and the city,” she added.
In the coming two days, the delegates (listed below) will join with AAF and Kirkpatrick Foundation in highlighting transformative and durable public-private partnership projects that improve quality of life in cities.
“As our climate changes and ecological equilibrium is tested, it is imperative that cities create policy and public spaces that support this development,” Bogle said.
McCune added, “We are excited to partner with AAF to investigate more deeply the elements that define the ‘urban ecosystem.’ We look forward to the strategies that they will devise this week and commend AAF’s Ron Bogle and Elizabeth Okeke-Von Batten for their masterful program planning.”
For more than fifteen years, the American Architectural Foundation has been committed to empower leaders to transform their communities by design. Through professional development events and technical assistance workshops, over 1,300 local leaders have defined and solved their city’s greatest design challenges through the application of scalable, context sensitive plans and strategies developed at AAF events.
Since 1955, Kirkpatrick Foundation has provided transformative support and funding for visionary endeavors in arts, culture, education, animal wellbeing, environmental conservation, and historic preservation in central Oklahoma. Through research and outreach such as the Oklahoma Animal Study and the Safe & Humane initiative, Kirkpatrick Foundation continues its effort to make Oklahoma the safest and most humane place to be an animal by the year 2032.
The Delegates include:
Matt Arnn, Chief Landscape Architect, U.S. Forest Service, Washington, DC
Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, Vice President of Landscape Architecture / Practice Leader of the Americas, AECOM, Arlington, VA
Amy Coffman Phillips, Founder, B-Collaborative, Chicago, IL
David Drake, Professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI
Gina Ford, Principal, Sasaki, Watertown, MA Cinda Gilliland, Reed Gilliland, Petaluma, CA
Liz Guthrie, Associate Director, Resilience Practice, Network, and Learning, 100 Resilient Cities, New York, NY
Shane Hampton, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK Mami Hara, General Manager / CEO, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle, WA.
Maureen Heffernan, Executive Director, Myriad Gardens Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK
Mary Margaret Jones, Senior Principal, Hargreaves Associates, San Francisco, CA
Ted Landsmark, Director, Northeastern University Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Boston, MA
Kristy Wicker, WildCare Foundation, Noble, OK Dwight Lawson, Executive Director, Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma, OK
Liza Lehrer, Urban Wildlife Ecologist, Urban Wildlife Institute, Chicago, IL
Molly McCabe, Founder and President, HaydenTanner, LLC, Bigfork, MT
Aubrey McDermid, Director of Planning, City of Oklahoma City, OK Seth Magle, Director, Urban Wildlife Initiative, Chicago, IL
Brent Wall, Director, LAUD Studio, Oklahoma City, OK
Clark Wilson, Office of Community Revitalization, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Tao Zhang, Principal, Sasaki, Watertown, MA