This morning's Dallas City Council briefing should be more interesting than most -- thing's almost like a meeting of a book club where the topic is urban design and development, which is perhaps why the council's moving out of City Hall and across the street to the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library's O'Hara Exhibit Hall. Among those scheduled to speak: Christopher Leinberger, self-proclaimed "Metropolitan Land Strategist & Developer" and author of Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream; Larry Beasley, retired director of planning for Vancouver turned "professor of planning"; LAtino Urban Forum co-founder James Rojas, who is trying to reinvent Los Angeles by "combating sprawl and unsustainable development while creating a sense of place"; and architect Maurice Cox, the National Endowment for the Arts' director of design whose reinvention of a small Virginia town garnered him a few seconds on 60 Minutes in 2004.
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Make no mistake: This is a big-deal gathering. And it comes at just the right time, insists City Manager Mary Suhm in her memo to the council: "We are experiencing somewhat of a softening or slow down in construction-related activities. One of the few advantages of this economic climate is that it presents us when an opportunity to step back and reflect on the type of city we are creating and contemplate our future direction." Thus, this morning's symposium, which kicks off at 9:15 a.m.