Montgomery Planning Invites the Community to Consider Big Ideas for the Future

December 12, 2019

big ideas series graphic

Three free sessions starting in January will focus on ideas under consideration for Thrive Montgomery 2050 in food production, the economic benefits of multimodal transportation and equitable housing

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is hosting a three-part “Big Ideas Series” held in January, February and March 2020 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Planning Department Headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD). The series will feature speakers who will discuss ideas for planning for the future. The speakers’ series  is  part of Montgomery Planning’s  effort to update the county’s General Plan, known as Thrive Montgomery 2050. RSVPs are encouraged but not required. The sessions include:

  • The Future of Food: January 14, 2020
  • Multimodal Transportation and a Healthy Economy: February 11, 2020
  • Housing for All: March 3, 2020

“Sweeping changes are occurring now in our county, climate change, the rise of the sharing economy, increasing population diversity, autonomous vehicles, new technologies and so much more,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “We need to think outside of the box for solutions, the Thrive Montgomery 2050 effort is a chance for the community to consider how our county can be prepared for the future so we can continue to thrive.”

The 2019 Big Ideas Series will feature three moderated discussions on ideas about the evolving nature of food production and farming, how economic health relates to multimodal transportation and how to provide housing for all. The series is free and open to the public and planning professionals. Credit for certification maintenance (CM) for members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) attending the series is pending.

About the Sessions

The Big Ideas Series will be held at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sessions will also be available live and on-demand online.

The Future of Food: January 14, 2020, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Farming and farmland continue to evolve since the establishment of the Agricultural Reserve nearly four decades ago. While traditional agricultural activities, including grain farms and livestock operations have sustained, Montgomery County has more recently experienced an increase in tabletop food production, horticulture and agritourism industries. Furthermore, access to healthy food and overall health has a direct correlation to wealth, race and ethnicity in the United States. How can we provide healthy food access for all residents to foster an equitable, prosperous future in Montgomery County? Learn from experienced farmers working in urban, suburban and rural areas on how to plan for food production. RSVP for this session.


  • Daryll Perkins, Director of Impact and Co-Founder of Broccoli City Festival
  • Hannah Sholder, Co-Founder and Director of Land Stewardship at the Charles Koiner Center for Urban Farming
  • Ben Butler, Farm and Finance Manager, Butler’s Orchard
  • Greg Glenn, Co-Founder, CEO, Education Director, Farm & Livestock Manager of Rocklands Farm Winery


Caroline Taylor, Executive Director, Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Multimodal Transportation and a Healthy Economy: February 11, 2020, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Montgomery County is home to a diverse and robust economy, and is a home to global companies, government sectors, and local businesses.  It will be necessary to continue to foster a culture of innovation and learning that propels our economy towards shared prosperity.    How can we ensure that streets become economically competitive places that move people, not just corridors for moving automobiles? Listen to an esteemed panel of experts lead this discussion on the future of multimodal transportation as it relates to economic development.  RSVP for this session.


  • Gabe Klein, Co-Founder, CityFi, former Commissioner of the Chicago and Washington D.C. Departments of Transportation
  • Veronica Davis, co-owner and Principal Planning Manager at Nspiregreen, LLC
  • Kim Lucas, Assistant Director of Transportation, City of Pittsburgh, PA


Chris Conklin, Director of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation

Housing for All: March 3, 2020 6 to 7:30 p.m.

How can housing in the future become more affordable, address climate change, promote diversity and make beautiful communities with a strong sense of place? The City of Minneapolis recently adopted a bold new comprehensive plan that will transform the way the housing in the city will grow in the future. The plan allows the development of tri-plex housing citywide, eliminates minimum parking requirements, and allows more high-density housing along transportation corridors. Participate in an innovative discussion from national leaders in housing planning and development on big ideas to achieve this vision. RSVP for this session.


  • Heather Worthington, Director of Long-Range Planning, City of Minneapolis, MN
  • Gwen Wright, Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department
  • Stacy Spann, Executive Director of the Housing Opportunities Commission


Tanya Stern, Deputy Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department

What is Thrive Montgomery 2050?

Tremendous and rapid social, environmental, technological, demographic and economic shifts over the next few decades necessitate revisions to Montgomery County’s guiding framework for growth, called the General Plan. As Montgomery Planning works to update this important plan, the community is being asked to help ensure that the county remains a vibrant, verdant and welcoming place — with an innovative economy – where all can thrive.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 is our chance to figure out – together — how Montgomery County can be a great community over the next 30 years. It’s about how we respond to future opportunities and challenges in the county. Together. Through Thrive Montgomery 2050, Montgomery Planning staff is identifying and examining the changes occurring, considering what we want for tomorrow, then developing a shared vision that allows us to keep what we love about Montgomery County while taking the actions needed to thrive over the next 30+ years.

The result of Thrive Montgomery 2050 will be a living and breathing plan that guides decision-making and helps secure resources to ensure Montgomery County is a place where everyone can be successful, have opportunities and enjoy a high quality of life in a beautiful and resilient environment. There are three priorities for the plan:

Economic health: We want to ensure a vibrant, strong and competitive economy by supporting small businesses and business innovation, and attract and retain a high quality, diverse workforce.

Community equity: We want to create a place where all citizens have equal access to affordable housing, healthy foods, employment, education and more.

Environmental resilience: We want to preserve our natural and built resources and use the best strategies to fight climate change and mitigate the impact of development on the land.

Learn more about this important plan and how to get involved at