Last year about this time I wrote on the subject of NIMBYs and laid out a challenge to the NIMBY nation. It’s time to stop talking about what you don’t want, I said, and start talking about what you do want.
In short, it’s time to develop the criteria under which a Not-In-My-Back-Yarder will say yes. And to that end, I want to consider a shift in perspective that might help the process along. I call it the Sphere of Emotional Ownership.
I’m a parent so, not surprisingly, I’m always on the lookout for intersections between that and my work in community design. The last time I considered the issue, I was thinking at the level of the neighborhood and exploring how walkable, mixed-use, mixed-product environments help parents combat a host of contemporary child-rearing ills. That post hit home for a lot of people and, since that time, my fellow ‘Shaker, Hazel Borys, has dug in further with her recent TED Talk, “Confessions of a Former Sprawl Addict.”
Today I move from the neighborhood to the house and wonder: In what ways are evolving trends in home buying impacting our kids — and our responsibility for raising them?
2011 is over, but not forgotten. Indeed, in the planning world, it will be remembered as the year when many planners across the country began fielding smart growth policy objections from Tea Party supporters and those concerned about the U.N’s Agenda 21. No shortage of articles and blog posts, written in tones that drip with frustration yet offer few solutions, have documented the trend.
These concerns are no small issue. Rather, they’re a formidable distraction capable of sinking years of work and wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars. In an era of diminishing resources, they’re something most communities simply can’t afford.
Back in June, I wrote a piece about how, compared to sprawl, smart growth produces places better suited to raising children. The overall takeaway was simple: When kids are able to navigate the world around them, manage conflicts, make decisions, screw up and recover, they’re better off for it. And place is a big contributor to that. Attracting families to life in the city can be a difficult endeavor. But given the stakes, it’s a critical one.
Over the course of the post, I touched on a lot of different things. Vancouver, and the challenges they faced with their own smart growth efforts. Buying happiness, helicopter parenting and fragile, teacup children. The value of independence, and the need to align political and market forces to make things happen. And, oh yeah. Popsicles.
Which idea do you think actually went somewhere?
Put the village on hold. For the time being, it’s gonna take a parent, a councilman and a developer to raise a child.
Flashback 2003: Attending the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in New Orleans, I caught the keynote from a planning official for Vancouver, British Columbia. Now, under normal circumstances, I don’t suppose I’d remember much of what he said but, at the time, my daughter was just over three years old and something he used as the overall framing for his making Smart Growth work presentation really resonated with me.
“If it works for kids,” he said, “it works for everyone.”
Federal government to sustainability efforts: You’re terminated.
In a blockbuster-style showdown, the House Appropriations Committee started a furor this month as they proposed the elimination of HUD, USDOT and EPA sustainability programs in 2011-12, as well as suggesting the rescinding of dollars already awarded by the Sustainability and TIGER grant programs. As municipalities, counties and regional COGs scramble to find ways to focus the weak development market forces into more sustainable patterns of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, the possible removal of the federal support is discouraging.
Looks like we’re gonna have to go indie.
More than three decades ago, sociologist Ernest Becker published The Denial of Death which made the argument that the fear of death, in all its irrevocability and finality, provides a unifying, baseline reality for humans.
We may be overwhelmed and confused by an increasing number of competing “truths,” wrote Becker, but one truth cuts through all others: We’re all gonna die.