Archive for the ‘America’ Tag

Video on New Urbanism Neighborhoods

Take a bit of time to watch this video made by the Congress for New Urbanism. It explains why America has become so suburbanized and car obsessed. Building codes generally forbid building mixed used development as a way to avoid “the hassles of city life.” Having building codes where only one type of zone (such as commercial or residential) separates these different types of areas from being integrated together. In my mind the stratification caused by consistent one-type zoning is similar to the Jim Crow laws- a regression and obstacle for integration and social equity.

This video puts a lot of emphasis on low carbon emission neighborhoods, and I believe they are targeting the wrong characteristics and benefits of New Urbanism. Yes, low carbon is good but it likely isn’t a primary deciding factor of most Americans. Americans would rather live in somewhere exciting- a place that is unique in its own right. Some people might like where they live because it’s a small town. Others might like where they live because they have little space to maintain, or a lot of space for a large house with a large backyard and pool. Economists have always said you cannot explain preferences of people, so urban planners need to account for the different living styles some prefer. This is the greatest challenge for planners. At the same time very few Americans have lived in a planned New Urbanist/ Old Urbanist/ Traditional Neighborhood style environment, and have yet to decide if it is good or not, only the connotation formed by their previous experiences. Hopefully some of these videos will change some minds.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, VERTICES LLC

For additional information on New Urbanism, check out www.newurbanism.org

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A Little Local Service

President Obama recently launched an initiative to help Americans get involved in community service. In his youtube address to the nation, he asks volunteers all over the country to register their events on the government run site www.serve.gov. Although not everyone will be involved in a community service events, perhaps not even half, but at least President Obama is providing support for the people that do choose to volunteer their time.

In terms of community visioning, this program is a good way to get people “thinking globally, acting locally.” Whether someone volunteers because they enjoy keeping local parks trash, or because they want to make a difference in someone else’s life, it is all a part of the community. The community is the most important aspect in visioning.

In response to this video, a student run organization, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), has put together a checklist for how one can help. They list several possibilities:

  1. Plant a native tree
  2. Help clean up green space in my community
  3. Lessen the impact of my visit to parks
  4. Help educate others about making a difference
  5. Volunteer for a local park restoration
  6. Enter the green your school contest

You can visit and sign their Conservation Declaration form here.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC