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

After the Plague: Go Big or Go Backwards?

This is the first of several posts planned for the next few weeks on lessons we’re learning from the pandemic and how local and regional governments might respond – not only to the crisis itself, but also to weaknesses in policies and processes COVID-19 exposed.

Let’s start with an understatement: Community development leaders – whether they’re in government, non-profits, or the private sector — are likely to remember this time as the most challenging of their lives. Every hard choice is harder, every strategy fraught with uncertainty.

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Shelter in Place: Working in a time of isolation

In this time of social distancing without a clear time frame, I’m feeling the need to share some of the things I’ve learned over 17 years of working from a home office. It’s clear that the novel corona virus will disrupt our previous ways of doing business, but it’s possible some parts of that may be good, eventually. For people who are able to return to near former levels of productivity while COVID-19 runs its course, you may be able to contribute to economic stability, and save yourself much of the roughly 6 weeks every year that the average North American spends commuting to work. That’d be a serious bump in productive hours available with major reductions in transportation costs and green house gas emissions.

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Affordability in Context: Part II

In the weeks before the Congress for the New Urbanism conference in Savannah, Georgia, May 15-19, we’re presenting interviews with experts contributing to a day-long exploration of “Affordability: The Intersection of Everything.” A three-hour morning forum on Thursday, May 17, kicks off the discussion, followed by two break-out sessions that afternoon. Below is Part II of a context-setting interview with Scott Bernstein, a founder of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and a former CNU board member. Part I is here.

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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

Places that Pay: Benefits of placemaking v2

“Reconciliation is making peace with reality, our ideals, and the gap in between,” via Her Honour, Janice C. Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. Much of our work here at PlaceMakers is about redirecting the trajectory of where we are headed with the targets needed to ensure the wellness of our environment, equity, and economy, so that stopgap measures are kept to a minimum. The studies that quantify how the form of our cities, towns, villages, and hamlets effects this wellness is essential to building the political will to make change. Listed below are the 65 key works I’m most likely to quote, to make the case for developing the city and town planning tools we need to make a difference for the resilience of people, planet and profit. Continue Reading