The City of Burlington, Vermont will be the host of an innovative international conference on sustainable communities, to be held from July 14-18, 2004.   The Sustainable Communities 2004 conference will bring together academics, professionals, citizens, businesses, and educators from all over the world to discuss and address real-life problems so that participants can go home with new tools, practices, and skills to use in their own communities.  Registration is now open - and the early registration deadline has been extended to May 1, 2004.

 The conference will feature site visits, case studies, simulations, and dialogue sessions to focus on issues ranging from the role of the arts in community development, the restoration economy, citizen empowerment and public participation, to more technical sessions on financing mechanisms for innovative development strategies, environmentally certified construction practices, performance contracts for energy efficiency, local currency, new opportunities in the business sector, and green purchasing.  

Speakers at the conference include internationally known experts such as Dr. Robert Costanza and Hunter Lovins as well as people who have worked in the trenches - local leaders who have dared to try new strategies - Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, Columbia, and Peter Clavelle, the current mayor of Burlington, Vermont.  The President of the National League of Cities, Charles Lyons, will speak about the League's new campaign, called Divided We Fall, to highlight the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, and John Hoyt, a Commissioner for the Earth Charter Initiative, will talk about how cities are using a global vision to shape local strategies.  

Over three and a half days, participants will experience how all of the important facets of sustainable community development - social well-being, good governance, economic security, and environmental health - have been integrated into a comprehensive strategy in Burlington.  They'll learn how to inspire and motivate the important community leaders, youth, and ordinary citizens to have a real dialogue about how to achieve the community's vision for a better future.  City leaders from all over the world will tell stories about how cities have overcome common obstacles to innovation and achieved best practices that have changed their communities for the better.

  Four innovative tours have been designed to complement the conference, with visits to Burlington's community supported organic fields, waterfront renewal project, local craft artisans, and food suppliers committed to using locally grown food products.  A new tour company called Vermont Experience, which has been created to highlight sustainable tourism opportunities, is offering the tours.  More information can be found at

  For more information and registration materials, please visit the conference web site at:, or contact Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Conference Coordinator at