The Transformative Power of Walkability (and beer)

I’m suspicious of the words “neighborhood character” in defensive mode. If they once signaled a community characteristic worth prioritizing, the’ve lately become weaponized. A dog whistle for opposition to everything from granny flats to transit to, you know, change. But I’m definitely okay when the character of the neighborhood in question embodies adaptation.

My current favorite example is in my West Asheville neighborhood. It’s a gas station/convenience store redefining the concept of “convenience” for a place in transition.

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The Human Scale

I recently watched The Human Scale again, a film from 2013, and felt the anticipation building to meet Jan Gehl at the 26th Congress for the New Urbanism (#CNU26) in Savannah next week, and at home in Winnipeg in September. I’m sure Jan will bring us an update on his city planning work in the last five years, but the ideas he shares in the film are timeless. Until then, here are memorable excerpts from the film, and the Twitter accounts of the speaker, when I could find them.

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Tools to Stop Coming Up Short on Affordable Housing

In the weeks before the Congress for the New Urbanism conference in Savannah, GA, 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 an interview with Ahmad Abu-Khalaf, research analyst with Enterprise Community Partners. He’ll be on the morning kick-off panel.

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Affordable Housing Finance: Show me the money

In the weeks before the Congress for the New Urbanism conference in Savannah, GA, 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 an interview with Jeff Staudinger, former Community Development Director for the City of Asheville and currently a consultant in affordable housing finance. He’ll be a panelist in the afternoon session, “New Housing Finance (Mostly) Without the Feds,” at 4 p.m.

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New Housing Finance (Mostly) Without the Feds

In the weeks before the Congress for the New Urbanism conference in Savannah, GA, 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 an interview with Ben Schulman, communications director of the crowdsourcing platform Small Change. He’ll be a panelist in the afternoon session, “New Housing Finance (Mostly) Without the Feds,” at 4 p.m.

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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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Community Affordability in Context: It’s not just about the house

Next month, May 15-19, when the Congress for the Urbanism holds its conference in Savannah, one day’s focus will be on “Affordability: The Intersection of Everything.” Between now and the beginning of the conference, we’ll present a series of Q&As with participants in that day’s discussion. Leading off is Scott Bernstein, a founder of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and a four-decade leader in analyses of the interdependent components of communities’ health. We’ll present the conversation in two parts, beginning with this context setter. 

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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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Suburban Remix: A New Generation of Walkable Development

Kaid-BenfieldIn 2001, a new book came out with my name (and those of two colleagues) on the cover.  It was a book of case studies of smart-growth alternatives to suburban sprawl, divided into three categories:  urban development, suburban development, and conservation initiatives.  I mention the book here not (well, not just) because I’m an incorrigible self-promoter but because it had three photos on its cover, one of which was of a then-new, multi-building and mixed-use development called Bethesda Row, located in suburban Maryland just outside of Washington, DC.

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