Partners’Board member Geoff Anderson, President of Smart Growth America, was recently named one of the “most influential leaders” in sustainable community planning and development, by Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Alongside Partners’ recent Bridge Builders Award recipient Christopher Leinberger, Geoff Anderson was acknowledged for his dedication and achievements instrumental in growing the Smart Growth field. With a 13 year tenure at the EPA, Anderson was central to creation of the agency’s Smart Growth program, and cofounded the Smart Growth network, the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, and popular website smartgrowth.org.
Smart Growth America continues to function as one of the nation’s premiere clearing houses reporting on and devising the latest methods for smart growth development. SGA is, “ the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide.” Through coalition building, policy development, and research, SGA explores cross-sector efforts dedicated, in the simplest form, to enhance livability for all.
"Governor Glendening and Partners for Livable Communities understand the relationship between livable, walkable places and economic prosperity. Smart growth results in places and regions with more housing and transportation choices, better access to shops and schools and a healthy environment. These are the neighborhoods—whether urban, rural or suburban—where people and businesses want to be. They attract new jobs and hold on to them over time as well as maintaining a higher level of housing and property values (Governor Parris N. Glendening).”
Real Estate may save us after all, say strategists Christopher Leinberger and Patrick Doherty, but only if it responds to a growing demand for walkable, dynamic neighborhoods. Real estate represents 35% of our economy’s asset base, so its recovery is essential to the country’s “economic renaissance.” However, write Leinberger and Doherty in a recent article, changing housing preferences driven by Millennials and aging baby boomers will make that recovery look quite different than previous decades:
In the fight for livability, sometimes advocates can forget about those who are happily living in environments that others would deem “unlivable”: sprawling, car-dependent suburbs. If it’s all about making our lives more livable, “shouldn’t we be able to choose the sprawling suburbs if we want to?” asked a participant at the Partners’ “Building Livable Communities” Forum in September 2010. Well, yes, replied the panelists, but it’s not that easy. “Choosing” sprawl is not always the free choice that many believe it to be.
“When you start with everything, you start with nothing,” Beth Osborne, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy at the US Department of Transportation (DOT), stated of the importance to narrow the focus of a livability agenda in order to be effective.
At Partners’ recent forum on September 22, “Building Livable Communities: Creating a Common Agenda”, many discussed livability’s ubiquitous nature on both macro and micro levels. The panelists spoke of the need for access and affordability to the many factors that serve as part of a system to create livable communities: transportation, housing, and education, to name a few. But when does a boundless agenda for livability, incorporating all relatable factors that serve to shape a livable community, become unproductive? In brief, what is the ‘tipping point’ for livability?
Today, more than ever, we are faced with environmental and economic challenges that will define our generation, shape our future, and test our resilience as cities, regions, states and a nation. Join leaders from across the U.S. as we tackle these challenges head-on and demonstrate smart growth solutions that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create a green economy, assure a healthy population, and expand transportation and housing options for all Americans.
The key to livability is “putting people first,” according to Danish urbanist Jan Gehl. This could not be presented more simply, nor more accurately.
Last week, in concert with the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy’s exhibit “Our Cities Ourselves,” Jan Gehl, along with co-author Walter Hook, published a report on the principles of improved transportation in urban areas that place the pedestrian as their priority. The report is called “Our Cities Ourselves: 10 Principles for Transport in Urban Life” and the exhibit launched on Thursday, June 24th, at the New York Center for Architecture. Gehl’s principles aim to address the challenges that we face in the 21st century, such as rapid population growth and climate change, to reposition cities as lively, safe, sustainable and healthy, as they were meant to be.