Pandemic Toolkit: Actions for rebuilding health and opportunity

In the seven months since I blogged last, many of us have turned our attention to cataloguing and collecting planning practices of how cities, towns and suburbs are responding to COVID-19 in an attempt to rebuild health and opportunity. Thanks to those of you who contributed to the PlaceMakers Pandemic Response Compendium, currently cataloguing 38 pandemic interventions. From this ongoing crowd-sourced document, we extracted a Pandemic Toolkit of the first 22 actions governments should take to get the economy restarted while protecting public health.

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A Pirate Looks at . . . Seventy? (Reflections on a Long Career, a Great Interview, and Six Essentials for Greener, Healthier Communities)

Kaid-BenfieldMost people who know my work expect the writing I do in this space, as well as my speaking, to focus on what we should be doing to create and sustain greener, healthier communities. Don’t worry, that’s eventually where this particular piece of writing is going. I can’t help myself when it comes to that subject. But I’m not going to start there: allow me to self-indulge my way around a few personal detours first. I’ll try to make them entertaining.

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Climate Adaptation: A weather report

This is a case study of the application of Scott’s argument that will be presented at the upcoming virtual Congress, CNU28, during the Wednesday, June 10, 2:30pm EDT session, New Tools for Urban Resilience, as well as part of our ongoing series in support of urbanist COVID-19 policy discussions.

Among the lessons the COVID-19 crisis and the protests of the death of George Floyd have hammered home are those connected with, first of all, recognizing vulnerabilities, then having a plan to overcome them before the threats are upon us. We’d be wasting this unwelcome opportunity if we didn’t apply what we’ve learned to building resilience capacities in the face of climate change. The current crises are emphasizing how essential it is to plot a path for adaptation after a disturbance, stress, or adversity. Continue Reading

Climate Change Update, Part II: Leveraging “The Biggest Little Things”

“The best strategies are the ones that can be implemented.”

That’s a reminder from Jim Fox, director of NEMAC, the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Taking ideas to meaningful action is the bottom-line test of any plan. And it applies particularly to what is arguably humankind’s biggest challenge ever: the struggle to cope with the impacts of climate change.

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Climate Change Update, Part I: The End is Near (Really)

Back in 2011 when we were emerging from the Great Recession, I wrote an “End Is Near” post about the chance to make use of the crisis.

When you run out of all options except the ones that force you to think big,” I wrote, a little panic could be a good thing: “We are about to be freed to innovate, to become heroes even, by being stripped of comfortable delusions. Chief among them: Faith that somebody else will pick up the tab.”

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A new path to code reform

The Users’ Guide to Code Reform leads planners through the code reform process, providing tools for governments lacking the capacity to develop a full form-based code. Continue Reading

The Science Is In: The healthiest neighborhoods are both walkable and green

Kaid-BenfieldMost of us, most of the time, don’t make much connection between place – the neighborhoods where we live, work, and play – and our health. Not unless we’re thinking of such obvious local health concerns as an outbreak of infectious disease in the community, serious levels of pollution or toxicity nearby, or perhaps about local health care services and facilities. Absent those kinds of circumstances, we tend to take our neighborhoods for granted when it comes to health. But we shouldn’t, because there is a rapidly growing body of evidence demonstrating that the shape and character of our communities matters a great deal to our health.

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Climate Change: Making the most of failure

Though it surely happens in sports at all levels, there’s one phenomenon that’s particularly common in youth sports: A game in which you’re so outmatched, so fundamentally inferior to your opponent that the outcome, minus Divine or supernatural intervention, is essentially guaranteed.

You’re going to lose.

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Year End Reflections: Gratitude for Livable Places

As the year draws to a close, reflection is an important rite of passage: celebrating, mourning, learning, and letting go. 2017 has not been the sort of year in which gratitude is the obvious emotion of choice on many levels. Yet the act of searching for what is beneficial, transformative, and noteworthy helps process through troubling challenges. Year end is a time of accounting for profits and losses, and making sense of what went right and what didn’t. In the city and town planning realm that we discuss here, that often comes down to comparing if our words line up with our actions. Continue Reading