ZipCode Calling: A Gathering For Christians Engaging the Built Environment

Salt Lake City - May 29, 2013




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UPDATE:  ZipCode Calling has a new name.  It is now called Project for Placemaking.


God designed people to live in community and to inhabit places that nourish us physically, socially, culturally, and spiritually.  In other words, people and places go together!

Although Christian pastors and leaders are well trained to care for the spiritual, personal, and community aspects of people’s lives, the average Christian leader has both a blind spot and an empty toolkit when it comes to assessing and interacting with the built environment.  Few leaders, therefore, understand how neighborhoods, villages, towns, and cities—the places we create and inhabit–can be thoughtfully designed to contribute positively to human community and wellbeing (or not).  Or to flip that around, most Christian pastors and leaders miss out on the joy and privilege of participating in the planning, design, and building of livable neighborhoods, downtowns, or cities that help nourish individuals and communities for generations (including the opportunity churches have to contribute to the built environment through their own building projects).

ZipCode Calling is a one-day event for Christian pastors and leaders that will help rectify this blind spot, or as Rich Sterns describes it, fill in a “hole in our gospel.”  ZipCode Calling will not only help attendees to discover the principles of great placemaking, it will also provide them with tools to help design and build great places, or redesign, retrofit, and redeem hurting places in your community.


–  First you’ll learn about the principles of good urban design from two world authorities, Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, at the 21st annual Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU21) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
–  Afterward you will participate in small group discussions facilitated by experts.
– Then you’ll take a guided walking tour through the neighborhoods of Downtown Salt Lake City so you can see and discuss the design principles that you’re learning about.
–  And to cap off the day, you’ll hear a team talk by the Rev. Dr. Eric O. Jacobsen, the author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and Christian Faith and The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment, and Mel McGowan who designs and builds great places and churches through his firm Visioneering Studios.
–  Last, but not least, you’ll meet new friends and become a part of a Christian community that proactively cares about the built environment.


8:00-8:45 AM: Introduction (Grand America Hotel, Downtown Salt Lake City)


9:00 – Noon (with breaks):  CNU21:  New Urbanism 101-Introduction to The Principles of New Urbanism by Andres Duany and Jeff Speck

Noon – 1:30 PM Bus transport to 1st Christian Reformed Church of SLC and working lunch in discussion groups (lunch provided)


2:00  – 3:15 PM Guided Walking Tours

3:30 – 4:30 PM Team Talk by Eric O. Jacobsen and Mel McGowan


The annual Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading venue for New Urbanist education, collaboration, and networking. CNU members come from around the world to discuss development practices and public policies, learn from recent innovative work, and advance new initiatives to transform our communities including:

  • Learn proven New Urbanist solutions on:
  • How to create stronger, resilient communities
  • How to adapt to demographic changes
  • How to deliver major energy savings and slow carbon emissions
  • How to be ready to meet demand for a projected 50-million-unit increase in new residences by 2030
  • Connect and collaborate with innovators — including green designers, architects, builders, developers, city planning officials, transportation design, and community leaders — committed to adapting and incorporating principles of New Urbanism in their cities, towns, and suburbs both domestically and abroad.
  • Experience the history of Salt Lake City’s planning traditions and see how traditional urbanism is being applied at the city and regional level through walking tours and events.
  • Learn about the latest applications of New Urbanism — and see how CNU’s initiatives shape the design of our communities.
  • Contribute your own ideas and experience to take New Urbanism to the next level.
  • Learn about new products and the latest innovations at CNU exhibits.

New Urbanism is the movement dedicated to the restoration of existing urban centers, the reconfiguration of formless sprawl into real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural lands, and the preservation of our built legacy. New Urbanist communities are walkable, offer a diverse range of housing options, encourage a rich mix of uses, and provide welcoming public spaces as detailed in the Charter of the New Urbanism.
New Urbanism is an interdisciplinary movement that welcome developers, architects, landscape architects, town planners, urban designers, engineers, environmental consultants, transit/transportation planners, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, housing specialists, real estate brokers, regulators, real estate financiers and government officials. Students, community activists and interested members of the public are also encouraged to attend.

This year’s theme for CNU21 is Living Community.  Living community balances the demands of physical, social, economic, and environmental values by connecting people to place. It awakens a stewardship for our land and each other. It is measured by how well we care for the people around us, the places we make, and the land that hosts us.

We encourage attendees to consider going to the rest of CNU21 post ZipCode Calling to learn more and to engage in the dialouge (or to attend as much of it as you can).  See a note about CNU21 at the bottom of this page.


New Urbanism 101: Introduction to the Principles of New Urbanism by Andres Duany and Jeff Speck

This primer on the principles and concepts of New Urbanism will give Congress attendees the opportunity to learn how and why New Urbanism works. The half-day course provides an illustrated introduction and a foundation in key concepts such as conventional vs. traditional development; the Charter; why sustainability matters; and what makes a healthy community. Attend this session and you will walk away with an excellent understanding of the fundamentals of New Urbanism.

Andrés Duany, Principal, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company
Andrés Duany is a founding principal at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ). DPZ is widely recognized as a leader of the New Urbanism, an international movement that seeks to end suburban sprawl and urban disinvestment. In the years since the firm first received recognition for the design of Seaside, Florida, in 1980, DPZ has completed designs for close to 300 new towns, regional plans, and community revitalization projects. This work has exerted a significant influence on the practice and direction of urban planning and development in the United States and abroad.

Andrés Duany has delivered hundreds of lectures and seminars, addressing architects, planning groups, university students, and the general public. His recent publications include The New Civic Art and Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. He is a founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism, where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. Established in 1993 with the mission of reforming urban growth patterns, the Congress has been characterized by The New York Times as “the most important collective architectural movement in the United States in the past fifty years.”

Andrés received his undergraduate degree in architecture and urban planning from Princeton University, and after a year of study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, he received a master’s degree in architecture from the Yale School of Architecture. He has been awarded several honorary doctorates, the Brandeis Award for Architecture, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Medal of Architecture from the University of Virginia, the Vincent J. Scully Prize for exemplary practice and scholarship in architecture and urban design from the National Building Museum, and the Seaside Prize for contributions to community planning and design from the Seaside Institute.

Jeff B. Speck, CNU-A, AICP, LEED AP, Honorary ASLA, Principal, Speck & Associates LLC
Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who, through writing, lectures, public service, and built work, advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design. He currently leads a private consultancy offering design and advisory services to public officials and the real estate industry.

Important recent work of Speck & Associates includes the Lowell, MA, Downtown Evolution Plan, walkability studies for six different cities, and the design of two transit oriented developments along the Long Island Rail Road in Babylon, NY: Wyandanch and East Farmingdale. He also led street design for Project 180 in Oklahoma City, which is currently rebuilding 50 blocks of downtown city streets. This project has converted a one-way system back to two way, doubled the amount of on-street parking, and introduced a full bicycle network where none existed.

As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, Mr. Speck presided over two NEA leadership initiatives, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and Your Town, both of which teach design skills to community leaders nationwide. He also created and oversaw a new initiative, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, which is bringing smart growth principles and techniques to state leadership. Prior to his federal appointment, Mr. Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., Architects and Town Planners, where he directed or managed more than forty of the firm’s projects. DPZ is a leader in the international movement called the New Urbanism, which promotes alternatives to suburban sprawl and urban disinvestment.

Mr. Speck is a contributing editor to Metropolis magazine, and serves on the Sustainability Task Force of the US. Department of Homeland Security. With Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, he is the co-author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, which the Wall Street Journal calls “the urbanist’s bible.” With Andres Duany, he has written The Smart Growth Manual, published in 2010 by McGraw Hill. His next book, Walkable Cities, will be released by Farrar Straus in summer, 2012.

Taking it Home:  The Relevance of Good Urbanism for Christian Ministry by the Rev. Dr. Eric O. Jacobsen, Pastor and Author, and Mel McGowan, Designer and Urban Planner.

Working as a tag team, Rev. Dr. Jacobsen brings a pastors heart and a theologian’s perspective on New Urbansim, while Mel McGowan brings the “show me” experience and practical dimensions of how to design and build great places.  At the end of the day you’ll walk away with concepts, tools, and resources to better engage the built environment from a Christian perspective.

Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen, Ph.D., First Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, WA.
Eric Jacobsen is the author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith (Brazos Press, 2003) and The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment (Baker Academic Publishing, 2012), as well as numerous articles on New Urbanism. He is a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, and a participant in the Colloquium on Theology and the Built Environment sponsored by St. Andrews University and the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship at Calvin College.

Rev. Jacobsen is the Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, WA where he lives with his wife (Liz) and four children: Katherine, Peter, Emma, and Abraham. Eric received his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2008, in the area of Theology and the Built Environment.

Mel McGowan, Principle, Visoneering Studios, Irvine, CA.
Mel McGowan leads the creative concept development, programming, master-planning, design, entitlement, and project management efforts of Visioneering Studios. Mel combined a unique background in film and a decade-long stint with the Walt Disney Company with experience in a private multi-disciplinary planning, design, and engineering consulting company in Southern California, where he designed and managed an enviable portfolio of projects for world-class resorts, institutional, retail, community, and mixed use projects. Notable project experience includes integrated retail, entertainment, and hospitality destination resorts, including the Disneyland Resort Hotels / Downtown Disney District, the Morongo, and Fantasy Springs casino resorts, and a ministry client roster of over 60 faith-based clients including Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA), Mariners Church (Irvine, CA), Dallas Christian College (Dallas, TX), and Southeast Christian Church (Louisville, KY).

Mel has emerged as a leading church designer and a unique voice in the call for Architectural Evangelism and the integration of sacred and secular space. Whether master planning a 2000 acre “new town” or scripting the guest experience of a 2000 seat worship venue, Mel approaches each endeavor with a passion for creativity, excellence, and “coloring outside the lines.”
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Film from the University of California, and a Masters of Urban Planning from the College of Environmental Design at California Polytechnic University.


Charles Marohn: Executive Director of Strong Towns
Charles–known as “Chuck” to friends and colleagues–leads Strong Towns’ acclaimed efforts to help reviatlize America’s towns and neighborhoods.  He is the author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Volume 1), the primary author of the Strong Towns Blog and the host of theStrong Towns Podcast and See it Differently TV.

Chuck grew up on a small farm in Central Minnesota. The oldest of three sons of two elementary school teachers, he graduated from Brainerd High School in 1991. Chuck joined the Minnesota National Guard on his 17th birthday during his junior year of high school and served for nine years. Besides being passionate about planning and small towns, he loves playing music, is an obsessive reader and is a season ticket holder of the Minnesota Twins.

Chuck and his wife live with their two daughters and two Samoyeds just north of Baxter, Minnesota.

Christie OostemaPlanning Director, Envision Utah
As the planning director for Envision Utah, Christie Oostema works across urban, suburban and rural areas of Utah in addition to providing community and regional-level capacity building assistance nationwide. Her passions include facilitating public conversations and exploring emerging solutions with citizens and stakeholders in planning processes that encompass housing, economic development, mobility, agriculture, and the environment. Current work includes focus on the Wasatch Choice for 2040, the land use and transportation vision for Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah Counties, and facilitation of several associated stakeholder processes working toward vibrant neighborhood development projects. She is also facilitating the development of an equitable transit-oriented development loan fund in the greater Salt Lake City metro region; managing a regional visioning process in Madison County, Idaho; and managing a HUD-funded project building scenarios planning capacity in communities and regions across the US.

Christie is an associate instructor in the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah, serves on the advisory committee for Salt Lake City’s new Downtown Master Plan, is a board member for the Utah Housing Coalition, and is chairing the program committee for CNU21 in Salt Lake City. Christie has a masters’ degree in Urban Planning. Prior to Envision Utah, Christie was executive director for a nonprofit focusing on critical lands conservation and community planning.

Mike Watkins: Architect, Michael Watkins Architect, LLC
Michael Watkins is the founder and principal of Michael Watkins Architect, LLC, an architecture and town planning firm. The firm’s work includes the preparation of master plans for neighborhoods, hamlets and town extensions, preparation of design guidelines, various town architect services for TNDs, and leading and participating in urban design charrettes. He serves as the Town Architect for Norton Commons (a DPZ master plan) in Louisville, KY, and Whitehall (a PlaceMakers master plan) near Wilmington, Del. He collaborates with numerous other New Urbanist firms, among them Urban Design Associates, TortiGallas and Partners, Placemakers and the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community.

In 2007, Mr. Watkins left his position as Director of Town Planning with Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company to enroll in the Masters program in Classical Design offered by The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America and the Georgia Institute of Technology. While with DPZ, he opened their Washington, D.C. office (1988), where he served as the Town Architect for Kentlands, a 352-acre neo-traditional neighborhood northwest of Washington, D.C., lead many charrettes for a wide variety of types of projects, and was a member of design teams for over sixty towns and neighborhoods in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Watkins is one of the co-authors with Andres Duany of the Smartcode, a zoning ordinance that legalizes the development of traditional neighborhoods. In 2003, Mr. Watkins edited and produced The Guidebook to the Old and New Urbanism in the Baltimore / Washington Region. Mr. Watkins speaks on the subject of traditional architecture and urban design at universities and conferences in the U.S. and abroad. He is a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism, the American Institute of Architects, the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, the New Urban Guild and the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Eliza Harris: Urban Planner, Canin Associates
Eliza is a Senior Associate at Canin Associates in Orlando where she focuses on active transportation, regional planning and coding. She led a multi-county GIS and design effort for the metro Orlando MPO Long Range Transportation Plan that introduced land use as an important variable to improve transportation efficiency while contributing to sustainability and quality of life. Before completing a Masters of Urban Planning Degree at the Harvard School of Design, she had the privilege of interning with City of Charleston Planning and Neighborhood Design and for Cornish Associates of Mashpee Commons and Providence, RI. Eliza is a board member of the Congress for the New Urbanism and local representative of CNU Orlando.


ZipCode Calling is a great one-day introductory event to the built envoironment and New Urbanism, but if you are really intetested in this issue we highly recommend that you attend all of CNU21, or as much as you can.  CNU21’s opening plenary is after dinner on May 29th at 7:00 PM, and after that there’s three more days of world class content and experiences!  To learn more about CNU21 and see all it has to offer go to

Other CNU sessions and activities that might be of interest include:

A Frontier Forged by Faith – The Impact of Religious Freedom on American
Land Use

Track: [Living] Together – Region Thursday, May 30, 2013 | 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Please check back for updates on AIA and AICP credits

Early settlement patterns on the American frontier often reflected the hopes of
religious idealists’ of creating new social structures upon the sparsely inhabited
land. Although widely divergent in theology, religious groups were alike in their
desire to forge new, faith-based societal frameworks. Early American
communities such as Kirtland, Shaker Heights, and Nauvoo are cultural artifacts
that reflect the disparate visions of religious groups. Salt Lake City is arguably the
most successful, functional community founded on religious ideals based on
longevity. Choices were made concerning spatial hierarchies and land
distribution that reflected collective values. Because their urban plans controlled
settlement patterns, these communities’ faith-based beginnings remain a part of
the landscape today. This session will explore a frontier built by faith, and the
relationships between people and place.