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

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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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

CNU Climate Summit Highlights

A group of concerned urban designers, architects, ecologists, and economists gathered last week in Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss resilience at the CNU Climate Summit. Unable to join, I reached a few participants by phone and followed the Twitter hashtag, #CNUClimate, to hear highlights of the presentations and working groups. Several of their ideas resonate with the resilience thread here, and is another step in the process of answering some of the questions we often pose. Warning, this blog is long and heavy on direct quotes.
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Ten key ingredients of a green and healthy community

Kaid-BenfieldIf someone asks what a green community, or a healthy one, means to you, what comes to mind? I’m willing to bet that for most people it is the visible and tangible aspects: a lovely city park, perhaps, or mature street trees, or bicycle lanes on a city street. If you’re a bit more wonky, you might also think of access to healthy food, or to public transportation. If you work on these matters for a living, you might think of more technical matters such as where we get our energy, what happens to our waste, and whether neighborhood streets are designed in a pattern that facilitates walking to accomplish everyday errands. Continue Reading