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The Opening Plenary Session will include introductory remarks by Chapter President Wendy Shabay, AICP, and conference Co-Chairs Brooks Wilson, AICP and Lee Battle, AICP.  Frisco Mayor Maher Maso will welcome the conference to the City of Frisco.   Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will be the Plenary Session speaker. 

Plenary Session:  Blue Zones – the Fort Worth Experience

In 2004, researcher Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people lived measurably better and longer.  In these “Blue Zones” they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States.   After the publication of Mr. Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones, which became a New York Times best-seller, the Blue Zones concept has been promoted on TV, the web and even incorporated into former President Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative.  The media success prompted a new challenge: could Blue Zones be built in the US?

In 2009, The Blue Zones organization partnered with AARP and the United Health Foundation to apply the principles learned internationally to an American town, Albert Lea, Minnesota.  After just one year of adopting the Blue Zone practices, participants added an estimated 2.9 years to their average lifespan while healthcare claims for city worker dropped 49%.  Walter Willett of Harvard University called the results ‘stunning.’

Mayor Betsy Price is bringing the Blue Zone concept to Fort Worth – the first major city in the United States to attempt such a large-scale health initiative.  This plenary session will inform participants about Blue Zones, the Power 9 concepts, and how to initiate this powerful system in your municipality.

Thursday Short Course Luncheon Keynote Address:  Leigh Gallagher -- The End of Suburbs

“The government in the past created one American Dream at the expense of almost all others: the dream of a house, a lawn, a picket fence, two children, and a car. But there is no single American Dream anymore.”  For nearly 70 years, the suburbs were as American as apple pie.  As the middle class ballooned and single-family homes and cars became more affordable, Americans flocked to pre-fabricated communities in the suburbs, a place where open air and solitude offered a retreat from our dense, polluted cities.  Before long, success became synonymous with a private home in a bedroom community complete with a yard, a two-car garage and a commute to the office, and subdivisions quickly blanketed our landscape.  But in recent years, things have begun to change. An epic housing crisis revealed existing problems with this unique pattern of development, while the steady pull of long-simmering economic, societal and demographic forces has culminated in a Perfect Storm that has led to a profound shift in the way we desire to live.

Speaking about her book, The End of the Suburb, journalist Leigh Gallagher will trace the rise and fall of American suburbia from the stately railroad suburbs that sprung up outside American cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries to current-day sprawling exurbs where residents spend as much as four hours each day commuting.  Along the way she will illustrate why suburbia was unsustainable from the start and will explore the alternative communities that are springing up around the country and promise to reshape our way of life for the better.