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NYC native plants

Delve deeper into the character, beauty, and utility of the important native plants that call the park home.

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High Line Network Symposium: Inspiration and Conversations from Miami

By Asima Jansveld, High Line Network | November 18, 2022

From October 12 to 14, the High Line Network brought together over 240 people working in the infrastructure reuse field for a three-day symposium to learn from each other’s shared commitments to building a better future through public space.

This year in Miami, in partnership with local Network member The Underline, the symposium Forward Spaces: Technology & the Future of Infrastructure Reuse centered on the topic of technology, asking: “How can our cities implement technological tools that address the needs of our public spaces and empower the communities they serve?”

As the second High Line Network symposium, the event built on conversations from the 2019 symposium, Beyond Economic Impact: Charting the Field of Infrastructure Reuse, which offered a forum for infrastructure reuse leaders to address important questions and concerns about the role of equity in public spaces. How we use technology—both within our communities and organizations—is an essential aspect of this work. While technology can help build inclusion, it can also feel like a barrier to the human, in-person experiences public spaces fundamentally provide. Expanded use and access to technology also brings increasing concerns about privacy, access, and big data that we must carefully consider.

With these provocations in mind, symposium attendees, representing over 70 infrastructure reuse projects, gathered over a shared commitment to exploring the role of technology in pushing projects—by and for the public—forward.

The opening panel, “The Importance of Infrastructure Investment,” brought exciting leaders from across the country together.

The opening panel, “The Importance of Infrastructure Investment,” brought leaders from the private and public sectors including Christopher Coes, Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Transportation Policy at the US DOT.Photo by OCHOMASDIEZ

Forward Spaces offered participants a wealth of knowledge. Here are a few of our takeaways:

To build a better public, we must listen at every step.
The Importance of Infrastructure Investment,” brought Christopher A. Coes, Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Transportation Policy at the US Department of Transportation; Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Dade County; David Martin Founder, CEO, Terra Group; and Teri Williams, President, COO, OneUnited Bank to the stage, moderated by Oscar Perry Abello, Next City. Secretary Coes shared his agenda to prioritize environmental justice and climate change in tandem with safety and mobility. Together, the panelists reinforced the need for decision-makers to listen to communities, at all stages of landmark investments in infrastructure revitalization and development.

Technology is a tool, not a solution.
Meg Daly, Founder, President and CEO of The Underline, Miami, shared how the 10-mile linear park is using technology as the connective tissue to link people, place, and development. In Phase 1 of the project, Daly and her team envisioned The Underline’s numerous amenities and community programs as flexible spaces that could double as meaningful testing platforms for integrating tech in public space. Honest co-creation, equitable access, and informed testing are now key components for realizing the vision of The Underline.

Celebrate the history and potential of the public, seek balance.
In the keynote, “Celebrating the History of Place,” attendees saw the essential roles art and technology play in facilitating joy and repair in our urban spaces. Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art, showed examples of how historic legacies, cultural assets, and community memories can be honored through ephemeral and permanent public artworks. As we explore new ways to add technological solutions to cultural programs, parks must seek balance, prioritizing not just safety, privacy, and ethical consumption of visitor-centered data, but also cultural heritage.

Inclusivity requires intentionality.
The largest investment in infrastructure in decades renders exciting opportunities, yet demands special attention to empowering our most vulnerable communities. The workshop, “Creating Equitable Impacts: The Park-In Park Out Approach,” used the Network’s Community First Toolkit to help attendees to be intentional when engaging residents and developing equity-aligned partnerships.

Joshua David and Meg Daly join board members at a board member breakout session. Small group workshops and breakout sessions accompanied panel discussions at the three-day symposium.

Joshua David and Meg Daly join board members at a board member breakout session. Small group workshops and breakout sessions accompanied panel discussions at the three-day symposium.Photo by OCHOMASDIEZ

To foster equity, we must build trust.
With over 70 projects of all stages of development in attendance, the symposium was a forum to learn how to push projects—by and for the public—forward. In the closing panel, “Where Can Tech Take Us in Urbanism?” panelists agreed that as cities become “smarter,” equitable human engagement in development needs to be a core tenant, sustained by trust-building.

In the spirit of innovation, inspiration, and collaboration, the High Line Network was thrilled to share some exciting news too! The Network announced awardees of their Accelerator Initiative focused on innovative tech and supported by a grant from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The inaugural grantee cohort includes the Detroit River Conservancy, Toronto’s Bentway, Philadelphia’s Rail Park, and the High Line. This exciting group will build upon the work of the symposium, testing novel ways to connect tech, public space, and community that could become national models.

An “All Together” panel discussion in session.Photo by OCHOMASDIEZ

“It is invaluable to have a forum that supports peer-to-peer learning within this space. Thank you for all you do to make that possible,” wrote one attendee. Working for the betterment of their communities, our members are passionate collaborators and empathetic leaders, please join us in celebrating their work. Visit our Network news page, meet our members, and follow us on Twitter @highlinenyc for updates.


The High Line Network is made possible by the founding support of The JPB Foundation.

Lead support is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

JPB Foundation and Knight Foundation

TD Bank is a Major Sponsor of the High Line Network’s Forward Spaces Symposium.

Additional support for the 2022 High Line Network Symposium is provided by Miami Downtown Development Authority (Miami DDA).

TD Bank and Miami Downtown Development Authority (Miami DDA)