Visioning

Last week we discussed the visioning process and it’s importance in planning the future of communities. Visions and the visioning process allow planners and residents decide on what the future of a community should be and how that goal can be accomplished. This could mean attempting to keep the community as it is going into the future or finding ways to redefine the community for the better. It depends on what the residents of the community want for their future.

There are many ways to create plans for the future of a community but the most effective seem to involve interactive design and community involvement. To understand a community and where it’s going in the future, the residents should be involved and be able to give their input. This link leads to the EPA’s page on the planning process and focuses on the creation of a vision statement. According to the EPA, creating a vision statement is necessary in the planning process and provides the basis for positive change. A big part of the EPA’s guide to vision statements is community involvement. It allows for the collection of diverse viewpoints, discovering the residents interests, and defining the assets of the community. Once the residents have expressed their view of the community and where they want it to head, scenarios can be developed that can lead to a comprehensive vision that incorporates the interests of the community into a plan for the future.

A common problem with planning for the future is the difficulty in making the vision that the residents have for the community come true. I found this non-profit organization that is focused on increasing the openness with which public agencies operate to improve the efficiency of planning. By promoting public agencies from different areas to share their findings and processes, good ideas could be shared more easily and communities could be improved more efficiently. Opening up more public data would also promote more community involvement in the planning process.

Shrinking Cities

This week in class we had two guest speakers, Joe Schilling and Stephen Goldsmith, who touched on the topics of urban ecology and sustainability with a focus on shrinking cities. The main point made in the lecture on urban ecology was that we as people are managing natural systems no matter what we’re doing. Mr. Goldsmith made the point that we are all engaged managers and the systems under our control range from the natural landscape to the buildings and roads we have constructed. Joe Schilling’s presentation was related to the topic of urban ecology however it focused more on sustainability and how it offers a way for Older Industrial Cities (OIC’s) or shrinking cities to be reimagined. A shrinking city is one that is currently experiencing a sustainable and sustained decrease in population and one whose physical footprint is larger than its current needs. Some modern cities that qualify as shrinking cities are Baltimore, Pittsburg and Buffalo and all three are experiencing emerging sustainability planning efforts in order to transform the city and ensure it remains large and prosperous. Some examples of how these cities are planning for a sustainable future are to implement sustainable or “green” building practices, to start reclaiming vacant property and to reconfigure the layout of neighborhoods.

The first source is a link to a New York Times article about Flint, Michigan and the idea to control the decline of this city by condensing the population as well as stores and services into a few viable areas by demolishing entire blocks and whole neighborhoods. The city is dealing with a $15 million budget deficit as well as an endless population decline and its leaders are looking for ways to combat this decline. Due to the fact that in 75 of Flint’s neighborhoods, 900 houses have been acquired through foreclosure in the past year, the city has now resorted to planned shrinkage as its primary way to keep the decline of the city in check and ensure that it continues to thrive.

The second source is a link to a policy guide on how to plan for sustainability that has been adopted in New York. The guide first goes over the indications and contributing factors of unsustainability some of which are deforestation, suburban sprawl and the loss of agricultural land and open space. The guide goes on to define Land use actions, Housing actions, transportation actions and economic development actions that can be taken to help ensure that the city’s future will be more sustainable. There are many objectives given to show how this will be accomplished including a reduced dependence on fossil fuels, encouragement of activities that reduce encroachment upon nature, as well as meeting human needs fairly and efficiently.

Link 1: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/business/22flint.html_r=2&scp=1&sq=pallagst&st=cse

Link 2: http://www.planning.org/policy/guides/adopted/sustainability.htm

Digital Cities

In week 9 of our class, we talked about digital cities. There are many differnet types of these cities. These digital cities include  connected cities, wired cities, smart cities, digital cities, information cities, E-cities, and virtual cities.

Digital cities refer to a connected community that combines broadband communications infrastructures, flexible, service oriented computing infrastructure based on open industry standards. The top digital city was named to be  Honolulu, Hawaii. Among other tops cities were Seattle, Washington and Baltimore, Maryland. An article I found describes the way everything is being changed.