Making an Mpact

Mpact National Steering Committee Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. Photo from Mpact LinkedIn.

Mpact National Steering Committee members meeting in Phoenix, AZ. Breen Masciotra of evolveEA is seated in front right. Photo courtesy of Mpact on LinkedIn.

evolveEA recently became a member of the Mpact national steering committee (NSC). We join about 40 partner organizations from across the country in supporting and advising Mpact in its mission to build livable communities with transit through education and network-building. Mpact, formerly known as Rail~Volution, was founded in 1996 as a local effort to see community benefits from light rail in Portland, Oregon. Almost 30 years later, with a conference still at its center, the nonprofit’s programming and reach have grown substantially. The organization changed its name to Mpact in 2022 to acknowledge the broader range of issues it works on, and the conference is now titled Mpact Transit + Community.

I began attending Rail~Volution conferences in 2012, shortly after I started working on transportation advocacy. I fell in love with the content and the community. I’ve learned a great many of the things I needed to know to be successful in my work over the last decade from my involvement in RV/Mpact.

As evolve’s representative to the NSC, I recently attended its 2023 “meeting two” in Phoenix, Arizona, where it will hold this year’s conference. Our local hosts and Mpact staff organized a tour of transit and development projects to help us get to know the area. We visited 50th Street Station on Valley Metro’s light rail, learning about design features providing shade and enhancing accessibility. This station is located in front of the Ability 360 campus, which houses its namesake organization as well as several partners, all of which provide a wide range of services to people with disabilities. We also had the opportunity to learn about the significant investments in development and transit occurring in downtown Phoenix, from Downtown Phoenix, Inc., and to explore the area between work sessions throughout the week.

Mpact 2023 conference poster

Conference poster for Mpact 2023 in Phoenix, AZ. Artwork by Tato Caraveo, an artist and musician who grew up in South Phoenix.

One of my ongoing responsibilities on the NSC is to participate in the development of conference sessions. This is a uniquely involved and productive process at Mpact, taking place over the course of three in-person meetings. We review, discuss, debate, share knowledge, and produce some of the most thoughtful 90-minute, CE-certified sessions you could sit through. We learn from each other and the city we visit. It’s a truly gratifying experience.

Things are shaping up nicely for November, with the NSC developing smart sessions on a diversity of transit topics across categories including policy, transit oriented development, equity, and multi-modal connections. I hope you’ll consider joining me and my colleagues from evolve and across the country for a few days of learning and networking in the Valley of the Sun. Early registration will open on July 21, 2023.

1: View of Phoenix from the airplane
2, 3, 4: 50th Street Station, Valley Metro light rail
5: Ability 360 Campus
6: Inside the Ability 360 Sports & Fitness Center
7: A glimpse of the historic fabric of downtown Phoenix, now a charming coffee shop
8: Shipping container hotel in downtown Phoenix
9: Mural in downtown Phoenix
10: Presentation from Downtown Phoenix Inc. about (lots of!) new development in the area

Evolve EA