NEW YORK –– Over 600 citizens will meet at a forum on Thursday February 7, 2002 at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan to discuss and evaluate their own ideas about the recovery and rebuilding of New York City. Among them will be those impacted most directly by the September 11th disaster – survivors, families of victims, and downtown Manhattan residents and small business owners –as well as policemen, firefighters, high school students and parents of students, and people representative of the different ethnic, racial and socio-economic groups across the city.

The forum is entitled Listening to the City: The Civic Alliance’s First Region-Wide Conversation About Rebuilding Downtown New York and is sponsored by the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, the Regional Plan Association, the New York University Wagner School of Public Service, the NYU School of Law and New School University’s Milano School.

The forum will use “Electronic Town Meeting” tools – wireless laptop computers, polling keypads and trained facilitators from AmericaSpeaks – to allow participants to talk about the impact of September 11th; the economic, social and infrastructure principles for rebuilding; and the form and spirit of an appropriate memorial at the World Trade Center site. This conversation and polling results will be presented to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to help guide its planning efforts.

Among the civic leaders who will deliver opening remarks are Bob Kerrey, president of New School University; Jo Ivey Boufford, dean of the NYU Wagner School; Robert Yaro, president of the RPA; and Charles Gargano, chairman and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, who will deliver the keynote speech. Louis R. Tomson, executive director of the LMDC, and Dan Doctoroff, the NYC deputy mayor for economic development, are expected to attend and speak at the close of the forum.

“This event is the start of a broad public conversation among the people of New York City and the region. It is their vision that will help to create our future,” says Arthur J. Fried, executive director of the NYU Wagner School’s Center for Excellence in New York City Governance and a forum organizer.

“We’ve heard some good ideas from government and civic leaders, and from those in the architecture and real estate communities, about how to rebuild downtown,” adds Fried. “To those we add the voices of the residents, the workers, the survivors, the relatives, and the rescue workers. They have a profound understanding of the events of September 11th and of the needs of the city and will be most affected by how the city changes.”

“Rebuilding Lower Manhattan is the most important development issue facing the region in this generation” says Robert D. Yaro, president of the RPA and a leader of the Civic Alliance. “It is imperative that real people from across the region, including downtown residents, workers, survivors, victims’ relatives, and the rescue workers, play a part in shaping these plans.”

The Civic Alliance is launching this forum as the first in a planned series of “Conversations with the City” to create a process by which citizens, communities, and civic groups can participate in the rebuilding of downtown New York.

“Listening to the City: The Civic Alliance’s First Region-Wide Conversation About Rebuilding Downtown New York” will be held at the South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 in lower Manhattan on Thursday February 7, 2002, from 8:00 am – 2:30 pm.


The Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York is a coalition of more than 100 leading NYC academic institutions and civic, labor, business and environmental groups. The Alliance will work closely with the Empire State Development Corporation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the City of New York to create a bold vision for a revitalized downtown. [A list of members is available at]

Regional Plan Association, an independent metropolitan research and advocacy group, has worked to improve the quality of life in the 31-county New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area since 1922. RPA recommends policy initiatives and physical and human infrastructure investments and involves the public in considering and shaping its future.

AmericaSpeaks is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization founded to create innovative mechanisms through which citizens can express their voices on public policy priorities. The Washington, D.C-based group developed the “electronic town meeting” process and has conducted similar large-scale civic forums around the country, including the successful Pew Charitable Trust’s Americans Discuss Social Security dialogue series in 1997 and 1998.

The NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service was established in 1938 and offers advanced programs leading to the professional degrees of Master of Public Administration, Master of Urban Planning, Master of Science in Management, and Doctor of Philosophy. Through these state-of-the-art programs, the Wagner School educates the future leaders of public, nonprofit and health institutions as well as private organizations serving the public sector.

New York University, established in 1831, is one of the largest and most prestigious private research universities in the United States. Through its 13 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, dentistry, education, nursing, business, social work, the cinematic and performing arts, public administration and policy, and continuing studies, among other areas.

New School University, with 7,000 matriculated students and 25,000 continuing education students, comprises of seven academic divisions: The New School, the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, Parsons School of Design, Eugene Lang College, Mannes College of Music, the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, and the Actors Studio Drama School, as well as the University’s B.F.A. in Jazz and Contemporary Music.

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