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Do towns and cities have personalities? If so, how do we describe them? Can our cities and towns – through their planning and design – be places that reflect the rich diversity of people who live in them? Tom Borrup, author of Creative Community Builders Handbook, will discuss these questions and more in his keynote speech for the Tennessee Chapter of the American Planners Association on September 27 at Meadowview Convention Center.

Tom Borrup, Ph.D. is the founder of Creative Community Builders. He consults with cities, foundations and nonprofits integrating arts, economic development, urban planning, civic engagement and animation of public space. His 2006 book, The Creative Community Builders Handbook, remains the leading text in the field. As Executive Director of Minneapolis’ Intermedia Arts from 1980 – 2002, Tom helped transform a diverse urban neighborhood while building a nationally recognized multidisciplinary, cross-cultural organization. Tom serves as Director of Graduate Studies for the University of Minnesota’s Masters in Arts and Cultural Leadership. He earned his Ph.D. in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

One of the most fertile partnerships in the reinvigoration of cities and towns over the past two or three decades has been between cities and their arts and cultural sectors. Can partnerships that leverage creativity, cultural amenities and walkable community design bring more cultural and economic inclusiveness? Can these partnerships contribute to healthy personalities of places?

If broken or dysfunctional, can the personalities of our communities be repaired? Who can do that? And, how do the personalities of planners, architects, developers and designers impact the landscapes of our towns and cities?

These are weighty questions for planners and city leaders to ponder. Tom Borrup, in his keynote presentation, will examine these phenomena and identify some of the ways that culture and creativity – and the people and institutions in that sector – have moved communities towards greater inclusiveness and healthier personalities. Based on Winston Churchill’s assertion that: “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”, Borrup uses a multitude of images collected from cities around the world, scholarly writing and decades of his experience in animating communities with the help of artists.

The presentation will begin at 8 a.m. at the Meadowview Convention Center and is free and open to the public. There will be a follow-up session for artists/art-culture organizations from 9:30 – 11 a.m. in the Appalachian Board Room. Borrup’s book, Creative Community Builders Handbook, will also available at a discounted price. Although the event is free, registration is encouraged.

Borrup’s presentation is sponsored by Engage Kingsport and through a grant with the Tennessee Arts Commission’ Arts Builds Community Program administered by the First Tennessee Development District and through the generosity of Shelburne Ferguson Law Office and Nate Kiser at Chrysolite Management Group.

For more information, please visit, or call 423-392-8414.