The Imagine Austin Speaker Series is an opportunity to promote and implement the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan through shared dialogue and mutual learning. We invite targeted thought leaders from around the nation to give talks on various subjects to promote and implement the vision and policies set forth in Imagine Austin.

Upcoming Speaker Series:


Watch videos from past Imagine Austin Speaker Series




Making minimalism and zero waste meaningful

Dara Zycherman, Owner of Less Equals More

Tuesday, January 19

Description: Minimalism and zero waste can help reduce expenses and stress and serve as a sustainability strategy. But how do you approach these efforts without getting lost in perfectionism or decision-making fatigue? During this Speaker Series event, speaker Dara Zycherman will discuss the connection between minimalism and meaning, and how to achieve a simpler home and lifestyle. Dara owns the Austin-based business Less Equals More and is an expert on the intersection between organization, minimalism, and sustainability. She is also a podcaster, blogger and was a 2018 TEDx Speaker.

Thrift Store Planet: Journeys into a New World of Re-use and Recycling

Adam Minter, Author of Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garbage Sale

Thursday, August 20

Description: For this Imagine Austin Speaker Series webinar event, author and columnist Adam Minter discussed his 20 year journey through the world's junkyards and thrift shops. He showed how the globalization of America's unwanted stuff goes from giant Chinese scrap yards to wool recycling in India. Along the way, he shared with us his images from the road, and provided insights into how thrift stores sort, sell, and recycle the things we donate and how these donations change the lives of people around the world.

Old Buildings in a Changing Austin: Historic Preservation, Density, and Affordability

Dr. Mike PoweNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Wednesday, September 25

Description: Historic preservation is used across the country to support small businesses, provide affordable housing, and preserve community heritage. What is its role in Austin where a booming economy is spurring calls for higher-density development and production of housing on a much larger scale?

Old Buildings in a Changing Austin Presentation PDF

Hot Topic: Go Solar!

Tim Harvey, Austin Energy's Solar Program

Wednesday, July 31

Description: Are you ready to power up with sunshine and savings? Austinites are embracing solar as a clean, green, alternative source of power. Watch the presentation to learn about solar-powered system basics, incentives and financing options, and comparing bids and selecting a contractor; and hear from local experts as they discuss the financial and environmental advantages to switching to solar.


Census 2020: Expectations and Challenges for Central Texas

Ryan Robinson, City Demographer

Friday, June 14

Description: The nation’s decennial census touches virtually every person and household in the country. It reflects our racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity and is a major foundation of our nation’s representative democracy. Its data informs decisions related to redistricting and the number of seats per state in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Electoral College vote, and benchmarks in federal civil rights and anti-discrimination laws. Census data is also used to determine distribution of federal financial assistance to local communities, public and private investments, and state and local budgeting.

City Demographer Ryan Robinson presents dynamic demographic trends and the political and social impact the 2020 Census might have on Central Texas.

Real Solutions that are Ending Homelessness

Eva Thibaudeau-Graczyk, Houston Coalition for the Homeless

Kerry O'Connor, City of Austin

Alan Graham, Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Community First! Village

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Description: Experts in the field of addressing homelessness discuss their varying approaches to their work. Learn more about projects and programs that have been implemented in Austin and Houston to reduce homelessness.

IA Speaker Series. Mobility Justice: People Power & the Future of Urban Transportation

Mobility Justice: People Power & the Future of Urban Transportation

Dr. Adonia E. Lugo, Affiliate Faculty in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University Los Angeles

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Description: Dr. Lugo shares her work on building a movement called "mobility justice," the practice of accounting for the diverse vulnerabilities that individuals carry with them as they travel through shared public spaces. How can cities, including Austin, use mobility justice to guide future investment in transportation systems? What is Austin doing right now to offer more affordable mobility options for vulnerable populations and communities?


Uprooted: Displacement in Austin's Neighborhoods and What Can Be Done About It

Dr. Elizabeth Mueller, Associate Professor of Community and Regional Planning at the University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Jake Wegman, Associate Professor of Community and Regional Planning at the University of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Description: Author's of a year-long gentrification study in Austin present  their findings around a series of pressing questions: Where is gentrification taking place in Austin? What strategies have been success in reducing displacement in Austin and other cities? How should the City of Austin move forward?

Link to the study and maps:

Building Community Resilience

Wendy Ellis, Director of the Building Community Resilience Collaborative

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Description: George Washington University's Wendy Ellis discusses Building Community Reslience, a national collaborative that seeks to improve the health and life outcomes of children, families, and communities. The speaker focuses on helping Austin communities not only "bounce back" in the face of adversity, but bound forward into a more sustainable future.



Tackling Household Affordability, Displacement, and Gentrification

Karen Chapple, co-founder of the Urban Displacement Project

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Description: University of California Berkley Professor, Karen Chapple discusses approaches and solutions to tackling affordability and gentrification in the face of stagnant wages and increasing housing prices.


Neighborhood Housing and Comunity Development



The Nature Prescription: Designing Cities for Health and Happiness

Tim Beatley, PhD,  Founder of the Biophilic Cities Network

March 29th, 2017

Description: In this talk, Tim Beatley discusses the new planning and design agenda of biophilic urbanism and the need for cities to shift towards a more nature integrative approach. Drawing from his research findings and the Biophilic Cities Project, Beatley surveys globally emerging practices of biophilic urbanism and present some of the tools, techniques, and strategies available to advance the vision of nature in cities.



A False Prosperity: The Hidden Cost of Suburban Sprawl

Chuck Marohn, PE, AICP

October 26, 2016

Description: Founder of Strong Towns, Chuck Marohn discusses the relationship between mobility, household affordability, and suburban sprawl, including the pitfalls of auto-oriented development. Mr. Marohn also presents his approach to building more connected, sustainable, and prosperous neighborhoods.


The City that Lost a Million Pounds

Mick Cornett, Mayor of Oklahoma City

March 9, 2016

Description: Speaker Mick Cornett, Mayor of Oklahoma City, implemented a series of changes in his city including installing new sidewalks, parks, and other place-making features and amenities to get his community moving. In this talk, he explains how the city of Oklahoma collectively lost over a million pounds as a result of strategic efforts.


Eco-Apartheid and Giving Voice to the Voiceless

Dr. Antwi Akom, Professor at San Francisco State University and co-founder of I-SEEED

December 9, 2015

Description: Speaker Dr. Antwi Akom, Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology, Public Health, and STEM Education at San Francisco State University and co-founder of the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED), speaks about how we can create links between community place-making, green infrastructure, and neighborhood advocacy to make great neighborhoods. He explores what Austin can do to increase community participation in economically disadvantaged communities to create more neighborhood activists and leaders and provides insight on how we can build a vibrant, resilient, and diverse economy that celebrates innovation and creativity, provides equitable opportunities for all people, and protects the environment.


<< Older Events