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These transportation planning rules only seem to be simple, their application is indeed a difficult job. But often simplification helps in the discussion and enforcement of environmental requirements.

Rule 1: Make every effort to accommodate the real needs of people. Do not forget the children, the elderly and the disabled. Prepare your plans and programs in cooperation with the public concerned. Urban planning and transportation planning is a social, psychological, economical, ecological, architectural and engineering job.

When Andrew Howard and Jason Roberts began the first Better Block project, they couldn’t “go by the book.” Their guerilla street redesign tactics did more than just turn a few heads; their unorthodox approach transformed communities.

The 2012 IMCL International Urban Revitalization Award will be awarded for Ecuador’s nation-wide program “The Plaza: A Place of Encounter,” a visionary project to revitalize social life and economic vitality by restoring the country’s historic plazas.

When the weather grows colder, healthy food enthusiasts mourn the loss of their weekly farmers market excursion. There is no need to fret, however, because farmers near and far are providing nutritious, organic, and local products year round. Farmers markets are expanding to provide winter root vegetables, squashes, fruits and greens along with artisan breads, meats, and cheeses even during the coldest months.

The gap between rich and poor in the US has widened markedly during the last 20 years. Middle class working families are rapidly slipping into poverty, and the poor increasingly see problems of health (over 30% obesity rates, with concomitant diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, etc.) and social health (unemployment, violence, and crime) devastating their neighborhood. These problems cluster in the poorest neighborhoods, diminishing opportunities for individuals to lift themselves out of the vicious cycle.

Urbanized is a feature-length documentary film about a topic that interests us greatly—the urban fabric of our cities. The film was created by Gary Hustwit, who authored the films Helvetica and Objectified, two other great films that cover typography and design respectively. His filmography makes them a joy to watch, but the content of Urbanized will hopefully really get people thinking and talking about our built environment.

Designing Healthy Communities[i] is an inspiring and essential book for all who care about how to improve conditions for ourselves and for our children in our communities. Dick Jackson, a world renowned public health expert, speaks directly to the reader with clarity and passion, and provides numerous examples of how each of us can contribute to solving the crisis.

Walkable neighborhoods provide a surprising number of benefits to our health, our financial wellbeing, our communities and global preservation. Compact development lessens our ever-expanding dependency upon the automobile, one of the leading causes of climate change. According to research[i], those who are residents of a walkable neighborhood weigh 6-10 pounds less than those who live within a sprawling suburb. Studies also indicate that residents who must commute by car to and from necessary errands are less likely to spend time getting involved in neighborhood activities. 

Westland, MI takes seriously the fun value of mud baths. In July every year Wayne County Parks and Recreation Department mixes 200 tons of topsoil and 20,000 gallons of water to create a giant lake of mud for children to play in at the “Mud Day” festival. They are following in the footsteps of spa resorts that for centuries have offered mud baths as a therapeutic treatment, and of children who have always loved to mess around in the earth.

Most long time residents of Salt Lake City will tell you, they would have never believed their city could be at the forefront of public transportation innovation. Looking back just a few decades, Salt Lake was just as automobile dependent as most rust belt cities. Local government support for new planning techniques has revolutionized the urban fabric in the last twenty years.  Salt Lake City provides an outstanding example of the positive effects of urban planning and design. Creating an integrated transportation infrastructure has been a great achievement and offers a model for small cities too.

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