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BIG Ideas

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Past Big IDeas

2013 BIG Ideas: The Future of Our Cities is taking place November 1-3, 2013. Mark your calendar now! This year’s BIG Ideas will be co-hosted by the Cities of Santa Monica and West Hollywood, CA Attendees can expect a unique weekend of experiencing both cities, while exploring provocative topics impacting the future of local government.

Hosted by the Alliance for Innovation, BIG Ideas is an invitation-only event that gathers progressive leaders to explore critical issues for the future of local government. The Alliance for Innovation is transforming local government through the power of innovation and collaboration. We serve as the platform for local governments who are passionate about nurturing an innovative culture and building the future of local government today.


The weekend is designed to provide attendees with opportunities to engage in thought provoking conversations addressing the  future of our cities. We will work together to answer 1) What should we be doing now to impact and shape the vitality of our communities in 20 years? 2) What are the developments outside of the local government’s space, such as technology, demographics, climate change, and others affecting our futures? 3) What are the anticipated factors to consider when planning for the future?

Friday, November 1, Andaz Hotel, 8401 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood -- located across the street from both conference hotels 


 Registration Opens


 Welcome and Overview

 Paul Arevalo, City of West Hollywood

 Karen Thoreson, Alliance for Innovation


 A Citizen’s Perspective, Rebecca Ryan, Next Generation Consulting


 Small group discussion, report out and questions/conversation with Rebecca


 Reception and Dinner at Andaz Hotel

 Saturday, November 2, in Santa Monica at the Annenburg Community Beach House (transportation provided)


 Shuttle Buses take attendees to Santa Monica




 Welcome by Rod Gould, City of Santa Monica

 Anita Chandra,  RAND Corporation, Community Resiliency


 Small Group discussion and report out




 Rapid Fire Session 1

     1. The Social Contract with the community and it’s employees -- Stephen Goldsmith, Harvard, University
     2. Climate – Clark Miller, Arizona State University
     3. Technology vs non-tech users, Alissa Black, New America Foundation's California Civic Innovation Project
     4. Media, Joe Mathews, Connecting California, Zocalo Public Square, and New America Foundation 
     5. Globalism, David Grossman, Director, ICMA International


 Small Group discussion and report out




 Rapid Fire Session 2

     1. Infrastructure, David Swindell, Arizona State University
     2. Healthcare, Dr. William Brien, Beverly Hills Councilman, Cedars-Sinai Hospital
     3. Homelessness, Margaret Willis, City of Santa Monica
     4. Demographics and Generational Gap, in an active living aging population, Rick Abramson WORKPLAYS studio*architecture and University of Southern California
     5. The Modern Urban City, Peter Dreier, Occidental College


 Small Group discussion and report out


 Discussion on what we've heard so far


 Break/Tour - Stay at beach, tour of Santa Monica, or return to hotel in West Hollywood


 Tours leave Santa Monica


 Dinner at the Mondrian Hotel, Cabanas, 8440 W Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood

Sunday, November 3, in West Hollywood at the Andaz Hotel




 During the break yesterday, what else did you think about that we have resigned to be  unsolvable?


 What do we need to do to meet the expectations of the future? What are the characteristics of   the individuals and their communities to bring about the change that is required? 


 Participant Reflection




There are two hotel options for BIG Ideas attendees. They are located directly next door to each other.

The Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza Hotel
8400 West Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: 323-654-0750

Attendees should call the hotel directly at 323-654-0750 and mention group name “Alliance for Innovation” when making reservations to receive the group discount rate of $175 for a 1 king or 2 queen room. All rooms include a complimentary hot American buffet breakfast, wireless internet, refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker. For further information on The Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza Hotel, please see this link

Mondrian Hotel
8440 West Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Ph: 323- 650-8999

Attendees should contact the hotel directly at 800-525-8029 to make reservations. Reference group name “Alliance for Innovation” to receive the group discount rate of $229. All rooms include complimentary internet. For further information on the Mondrian please see this link.


West Hollywood is located on the west side of Los Angeles County and nearly equidistant to two international airports. Located just 11 miles from the Burbank International Airport (BUR) and 12 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), either airport is a great option for attendees. Once at the airport attendees can rent a car, take a taxi, airport shuttle or car service to West Hollywood. For further information on ground transportation options, please see the visit West Hollywood page. Transportation will be provided to all conference events.


Attendees will be at the Annenberg Beach House, located on Santa Monica Beach, at the beginning of a program break on Saturday. Attendees will have the option to select one of three activities for that time. During the registration process, please select your current interest so we can arrange transportation. You will be able to alter your selection during the event.

1. Stay on Santa Monica Beach

2. Participate in a Walking Tour through Santa Monica’s iconic downtown. Visit the brand new signature parks, Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, designed by James Corner Field Operations. Get a bird’s-eye view of the coming Expo Light Rail line. See historic properties, learn about current and future mixed-use development projects, and visit shared office spaces plus the City’s flagship LEED certified Main Library.

3. Return to my hotel in West Hollywood. 


Registration is $435 for the two and one half day meeting. All meals are provided for the duration of the event.

Guests are welcome to attend dinners each night with the purchase of a ticket. Attendees can purchase a dinner ticket ($100 per night) during the registration process.

Register Here!


BIG Ideas: The Future of Local Government is generously sponsored by the Active Network, CH2M HILL, HR Green and the cities of West Hollywood and Santa Monica.







2012 BIG IDEAS - Williamsburg, VA

BIG Ideas 2013 offers a timely contrast to the 2012 BIG Ideas: Revolutionary Ideas, held in Williamsburg.  This year’s discussions will take the lead from our historical setting. Attendees had conversations around the theme -- “BIG Ideas, Revolutionary Ideas”: A New Founding for Local Government within the American Commonwealth. BIG Ideas 2012 discussed the future of local government as seen through the lens of the ideas which gave birth to the American experiment in republican and democratic self-government; the ideas which continue to inspire and to challenge as “we the people” struggle to achieve a free, just and inclusive society.View the BIG Ideas 2012 Conference Materials

2011 BIG Ideas - Fort Collins, CO

The 2011 BIG Ideas Conference was held in Fort Collins, CO. The format was highly interactive, with attendees bridging the roles of provocateurs and being a participant.  Participants left Colorado feeling energized and inspired by the conversation that took place.

Over the course of two and a half days, attendees discussed

  1. What will the future of local government look like?
  2. Who should work there? 
  3. What work will they be doing?
  4. How will they do their work? and
  5. How will we create a place for community?

You will find below the links to the white papers that were generated to help participants prepare for the conversation:

During these events, sessions are live scribed.  Below is the link to the 2011 BIG Ideas Notes that were taken during the event: