Published on Jul 24, 2018

5 things we learned at 2018 Annual Conference

Contact: Heidi Olmstead

More than 500 people from cities, towns, and other organizations gathered in Yakima in June to engage in discussions on city topics. Read about five (out of many) things we learned this year.


Small-Cities-icon-1251. Small cities and towns are eager to invigorate their communities

Dynamo speaker Becky McCray brought down the house with several engaging and informative sessions about how small communities can fill empty buildings, embrace change, and take small steps to bring business to town. We learned that community changes come with big opportunities for small towns. It all comes down to creating lasting networks and relationships with engaged residents. Consensus emerges from action. The secret? Three steps:

  1. Gather your crowd
  2. Build connections
  3. Take small steps together


2. Trees and sidewalks can be friends at last!

Catch this one-minute video from urban forestry expert Ben Thompson! As Ben explains, you can save trees and sidewalks when you consider them both as part of the urban infrastructure. You’ll also hear how the City of DuPont is saving time and money using a sidewalk panel vacuum lift technique that minimizes the amount of sidewalk damage when pruning tree roots.


3. Cities seek innovations to solve transitional shelter challenges

Homelessness is an issue in resource-strapped cities and towns throughout Washington. See how Walla Walla is helping address local challenges using the Conestoga Hut model.

After a particularly harsh winter negatively affected Walla Walla’s homeless population, the city created a plan to help residents experiencing homelessness find better emergency shelter. Working with a local housing alliance, the city helped build 31 insulated, weatherproof, lockable shelters to replace instable and weather-exposed tents. The city contracted with the housing alliance to provide sanitation and security services and help residents find permanent housing. Materials


4. You can always get better at communicating

Speaker Michael Buschmohle taught us that everyone – regardless of their level of writing and public speaking experience – can find ways to improve. Buschmohle even covered how to deliver stellar campaign ads and debates. Materials and handout.

When writing email and other web content, consider these four tips:

  1. Write to one reader, not to groups
  2. Put “you” or “your” in the very first sentence
  3. Get your message across in the first 3 sentences
  4. Read an email entirely twice before responding

When opening your public presentation, consider these four tips:

  1. Know your audience: Be audience-centered
  2. Open with a greeting: “Good morning and thank you for having me here today.”
  3. Follow with a question (direct or framed): “How many of you…”
  4. Make a promise: “Today I will explore 3 topics so that you will understand how to...”


10art5. Ten tips for effective local leadership

Ferndale Mayor Jon Mutchler taught us ten tips for effective local leadership. Read all ten, and be sure to check out the final tip – it's especially important.



Check out the conference materials page to dive deeper into the materials and PowerPoints.


ConferenceLogo75Save the date! AWC Annual Conference

June 25-28, 2019 | Spokane

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