What were they thinking? They portray a girl in a car gloating while the embarrassed biker tries not to be identified? This ad, run in student newspapers and fliers across the country, infuriated and disgusted students, faculty and university staff. GM thought they were being very cute, but apparently they did not anticipate the angry backlash from bikers, walkers and all those who remember GM’s sleazy history.

We are saddened by the sudden passing of Peter Benson, President of the Search Institute and author of All Kids Are Our Kids. If you heard his speech at the 46th IMCL Conference in Santa Fe, or have read All Kids Are Our Kids, you will know that Peter was a passionate advocate for rebuilding community and an articulate exponent of why this task is so essential. His message is clear to all of us concerned with making our cities more healthy and livable: “If there were only one thing we could do to alter the course of socialization for American youth, it would be to reconstruct our towns and cities as intergenerational communities.” With a compact urban fabric, mixed use, mixed-income housing, walkable streets and public plazas we have the tools to achieve this. It is up to us to carry his mission forward.

What is a “Community Hub”? The term is being used in different ways, in different places. From the British “Pub is the Hub”, to schools, neighborhoods, and neighborhood plazas, they are all steps toward the creation of more livable communities. The only way we can make our cities and communities more healthy, livable, creative (and economically viable) is to throw out the single-function zoning precepts, and overlap functions. bringing diverse people and agendas together.

Making Healthy Places is an essential book for all those concerned with how the built environment affects physical, mental and social health and well-being. Andrew Dannenberg, Howard Frumkin and Richard Jackson have compiled a comprehensive text that lays out this new field of study, looks at the data, and identifies some of the tools for further research and assessment.

While city officials, planners, urban designers and transportation planners are slowly moving towards a healthy, “True Urbanism” model of development that IMCL has promoted since 1985 (compact, mixed-use, community- and child-friendly, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods and cities), they have been held back by planning legislation and government funding that continue to promote unhealthy dependence on the automobile and separation of functions. Making Healthy Places will provide powerful levers to overturn unhealthy legislation and introduce healthier planning tools.

The creation of public spaces to celebrate cultural heritage and facilitate positive interaction between diverse community groups is an effective way to create healthy communities. In Portland, Oregon is a project that aims to do just that. The Portland Development Commission and the Albina Neighborhood Association are working together on a 2 million dollar renovation project for Dawson Park.

US Census Data Statistics shows a distinct correlation between obesity rates and the percentage of the population living below the poverty line. Seven of the top ten states on the obesity list also include the highest concentration of poverty. Highly processed foods are cheap, and many families sacrifice their dietary needs in order to purchase other necessary goods. Wholesome, nutrient-rich foods are costly and difficult to come by in many areas of the county. Why should access to adequate and healthy diets be reserved for the affluent population? The county of Tahema, California is taking leaps and bounds to change this trend and lessen the widening nutrition gap between income brackets.

Fostering intergenerational relationships between citizens should never be as difficult as nuclear fission. Encouraging conversation between all citizens is as easy as simple mathematics; take groups of individuals able to receive and give support, create a safe living environment, and voila! A livable community. The Bridge Meadows complex in Portland, Oregon has done just that.

It's encouraging when the topics of livability and sustainability begin to crop up in governmental policy and programmatic goals. After all, these concepts mean different things to different people and, as such, can be challenging goals to quantify and budget. It's even more encouraging when such an effort goes global.

Recently, in a unique effort to promote more sustainable and livable communities, the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) signed a joint Declaration of Intent with Germany's Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development (BMVBS). The ultimate goal is to develop a shared framework for improving urban sustainability and livability; to this end, the two entities would essentially exchange sustainability expert information, research, and consultants. In addition, the effort hopes to host bilateral conferences and meetings while sponsoring joint research studies.

Increasingly in recent years, we’ve seen examples of social media having a profound impact on important moments in history. For example, Facebook was instrumental in igniting Egypt’s uprising in Tahrir Square. During U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, Twitter reached a record of more than 4,000 tweets per second sharing the news. Each day we hear about the latest and greatest tool in social media and the wave of social media entrepreneurship is understandable given its power to quickly and affordably reach target audiences.

The Transition Movement is a growing international network of “transition” towns, cities, islands and hamlets working to wean themselves from a dependence on oil, foreign or otherwise, as well as other finite resources. It’s rhetoric we’ve grown accustomed to hearing—but this effort stands out. In the process of successfully addressing the oil question, this grassroots model for change begins with its core constituents: the residents of a community.

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