Sunday, January 11, 2009

On the first day of Christmas

Pull together a "Main Street" and "Green Street" Stimulus Guide.

From Dan Burden, Walkable Communities, Inc., USA

Here is a twist on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Each day, starting today, I will send you an idea that I think will advance Smart Growth, Complete Streets, Active Transportation and Sustainable Transportation. I would be happy to lead some of them; especially the one below. We can find the people to lead the other eleven. Here is the first.

On the First Day after Christmas. .....Pull together a "Main Street" and "Green Street" Stimulus Guide. The above image shows two of four elements I have pulled together. I am thinking there are at least 40 and possibly 80 tools that can be placed in a community project sponsors guide.

This document might run 20-40 pages and it would be supported with text helping a community determine those things most needed to make transit, walking, bicycling work. It would also provide an explanation, illustratioin and calculator showing how shorter driving distances can be made to small mixed use/transit villages that work.

The guide would be strong, complete and compelling in its graphics .... illustrating the best way to lay out a school site a post office, a civic bulding, a pocket park, a bus shelter. It would emphasize those tools of any type that contributes to walking to a building (location, orientation, size, scale), not driving more.

It would guide those projects already in preliminary architectural review, but where the town/architect is still thinking cars. You would be amazed at how many times we have found it possible to rescue a project before concrete is poured .... and several while they are being poured.

It would start with a premise, do no further harm.

It would be for those communities already having a green vision, but lacking the means to carry out critical funding. ... It would work for small towns, large towns. It would work for central towns, and suburban areas that are ready for change. It could be, should be, picked up by ICMA, U.S. Conference of Mayors, NAco, League of Cities, among others.

It would be a Smart Growth guide to anything and everything that reduces VMT. The most important thing, with the right sponsors, it would be in the hands of people within 30 days. Ambitious, but doable.

It would be free .... it would be downloadable .... no waiting to get a decoder ring in the mail. It would add clarity, it would add beauty, it would add simplicity.

How would this be done? I have at least a dozen people willing to help with the homework, to test, refine and make sure we give the right text, concepts, calculators, ranges and values. I think the bulk of the work can be done by ten to twenty people in about ten days.

I would be pleased to help inspire and guide this product, and I could begin as early as this coming Monday (once I get home from my current family Christmas travels).

You can help out now by agreeing to help dream up some of the other eleven days .... or agreeing to help review or help prepare some of the documents, training courses, whatever it will take to support the massive change our nation is going through, to make sure we get on good, solid economic and sustainable footing, build good stuff, not bad stuff.

It is time to burn off a few Christmas calories, to prepare to do a lot of good in the future.

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