By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 29, 2018 at 12:01 PM

Next week, a unique gathering will take place in Milwaukee as the first-of-its-kind Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) 2018 TrailNation™ Summit kicks off on June 5 at the War Memorial Center along the lakefront.

The invitation-only event runs through June 7 and even if you can’t make it there, the sessions will be online, too.

According to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy spokeswoman Patricia Brooks, the summit, "will gather the brightest minds in active transportation, health and economic development advocates and experts in a comprehensive discussion of the transformative power of trail networks to address challenges that every community in America is facing: chronic disease, resiliency, mobility, social equity and economic growth."

Here's a look at the work that the national Conservancy has supported in Wisconsin.

In addition to the plenary sessions, which you can find below, summit participants will also be able to take a tour of the 30th Street Corridor, a railroad right-of-way that cuts right through the city.

The "Route of the Badger TrailNation Project 30th Street Corridor Tour" is slated for 5:30 p.m. and, says Brooks, it offers the chance, "to see an example of how Milwaukee can serve as a national model for success."

The corridor was the subject of the Conservancy’s "Reconnecting Milwaukee" study issued last summer.

"Since the internet and smartphone have transformed society, people are walking and biking more, and driving less," says Brooks. "A new era is upon us – one we’re calling the Age of Connectivity, both for its genesis in technology and its potential to reconnect people and places. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redesign our communities around people, not machines."

After welcome addresses by Tom Petri, former U.S. Representative Tom Petri – who is on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy board – and Mayor Tom Barrett, these sessions will take place:

The TrailNation Playbook, June 6 at 8 a.m. An opportunity to hear from leaders who are at the forefront of the country’s most innovative trail network projects, tackling big issues related to the economy, health and mobility. Included among them is the Circuit Trails, the project that set the precedent for Federal TIGER investments in large-scale bike pedestrian connectivity projects. The panel will include Joe Delmagori, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission; Dr. Rose Gowen, City of Brownsville Commissioner; Leon Pinkett, Councilman, City of Baltimore, Maryland; and, Yves Zsutty, Trail Network Program Manager, City of San Jose, California.

Disruption, Mobility & the Built Environment, June 6 at 12:45 p.m. Leading national voices will tackle the big challenges that the changing technology and transportation landscapes are bringing to communities. The panelists will explore the intersection between the sharing economy and autonomous vehicles, and how we can position trails, biking and walking as critical priorities in the future of mobility. The panel will include Laura Bliss, City Lab; Heather Deutsch, ALTA; and, Robin Hutcheson, National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Planning for Equity, June 7 at 8:30 a.m. This panel will explore new approaches to planning, community building and development with the intention of righting wrongs of structural racism and economic barriers to equitable transportation. Panelists will include Beth Haskovec, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Milwaukee; Grace Kyung, TrailNet; Juan Carlos Linares, Latin United Community Housing Association; and, Lynda Lopez, Streetsblog.

Trails Are the Solution at 12:45 p.m. This panel will offer a comprehensive discussion of the transformative power of trail networks to address challenges that every community in America is facing: chronic disease, resiliency, mobility, social equity and economic growth. Panelists include Vanessa Garrison, GirlTrek; Gabe Klein, CityFi; and Taldi Walter, REI Co-op.

Learn more about the TrailNation Summit here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.