Roanoke conference sharing innovative ideas about improving small cities; Chris Morrill among the speakers

The first City Works (X)po kicked off yesterday. According to the website, it’s a “small cities conference celebrating the people and projects that have exponential impact. National leaders from the fields of Social Entrepreneurship & Capital, Arts & Design, Knowledge & New Media, Leadership & Good Government, Food & Drink and Outdoors & Recreation will gather from all over the country and in historic Roanoke, Virginia.”

It sounds like a great, visionary event — one that serves as a signature event for the Small Cities Movement. The driving force appears to be CityWorks, a “social entrepreneurship entity” that seems to be looking optimistically and enthusiastically forward.

Check out this upbeat video that gives a broad overview about the “amazing ideas” that “placemakers” across the country are implementing to make their small cities and small towns stronger:

Check out this video from WSLS TV:

The lineup of speakers and performers is pretty amazing. A few highlights: Nikki Giovanni, James Howard Kunstler, Mia Birk, Christian Sottile, and Chris Morrill.

Those last two names should be familiar to Savannahians. Sottile is an urban planner and architect who has done any number of projects around the city, including designing the new SCAD Museum of Art (which I’ll be touring later today). Go here for more. [Update: I saw Christian at the SCAD Museum of Art reopening — wow, what a place — and he’s not going to make it to Roanoke, although it sounds like there are plans to show the clip at the above link from TEDx here in Savannah.]

And Chris Morrill is of course the city manager of Roanoke, where the conference is being held. He was the assistant city manager here for 9 years and worked in Savannah for almost as long in other capacities. If Michael Brown’s departure from the top city manager position had come a few months sooner, we’d almost certainly have Morrill as city manager right now, which might have set the stage for innovative ideas and events like City Works (X)po

For more, check out the City Works YouTube channel.