Applications now being accepted for Smart Growth America’s 2016 free technical assistance workshops

A participant asks a question at a Smart Growth America technical assistance workshop in Alcoa, TN earlier this year.

Is your city interested in smart growth, but not sure how to make it happen? Bring in the development experts with one of Smart Growth America’s 2016 free technical assistance workshops.

Each year Smart Growth America offers a limited number of free workshops to help local leaders and residents make their communities more livable, sustainable, and vibrant. Now in its fifth year, this program helps communities find solutions to local development issues, so that participating communities are able to grow in ways that benefit residents and businesses while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. Over 50 communities have already received Smart Growth America’s assistance through this program.

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Now hiring: Government Affairs and Policy Senior Associate

LOCUS is seeking to hire a Government Affairs and Policy Senior Associate who will be an integral part of the LOCUS team in Washington, D.C. and will also provide support to a portfolio of research and advocacy projects within Smart Growth America (SGA) including the National Brownfields Coalition and the National Complete Streets Coalition. The ideal candidate will have an education and employment background in public or a related field, knowledge of real estate, housing and finance policy and work experience undertaking projects involving many partners, complex issues and extensive writing and presentation.

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Newark, NJ; Hamilton, OH; Jackson, TN win 2015 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement from U.S. EPA

The City of Newark, NJ remediated the site of a former smelting plant to build a new—and now award-winning—park along the Passaic River. Photo via Archpaper.

Three cities have transformed the site of a former smelting plant, a neighborhood destroyed by tornado, and a near-empty historic downtown into vibrant, walkable places. Now, these projects have been recognized with the 2015 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Riverfront Park is the culmination of decades-long work to transform five miles of formerly industrial Passaic riverfront in Newark, NJ. The park’s land was once home to a smelting plant, and sat abandoned and unusable for years. Environmental remediation and an intensive public engagement process have created what will ultimately be 19 acres of parkland and Newark’s first—and so far only—public access to the Passaic River. In this community of color and predominantly low-income area, with few green spaces and a history of industrial pollution, the new park is game-changing. “When I was growing up, we had very few places to play, very few parks,” said Ana Baptista, a Newark resident, in EPA’s video about the project. “My daughters are going to grow up having a relationship to the water and the river that I didn’t have.”

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FTA announces the 21 winners of inaugural Transit-Oriented Development Planning Grants

Sound Transit’s LINK light rail on the Seattle-SeaTac line. Six stations will eventually be added to Tacoma’s separate LINK line, doubling their number of stations.

Crossposted from Transportation for America.

It’s important that communities make the best use of land around transit lines and stops, efficiently locate jobs and housing near new transit stations, and boost ridership — which can also increase the amount of money gained back at the farebox. Twenty-one communities today received a total of $19.5 million in federal grants from a new pilot program intended to do exactly that.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s Transit-Oriented Development Planning Pilot Program was one of the bright spots in MAP-21, and a priority we worked hard to see included in the final bill during those negotiations back in the summer of 2012, along with our colleagues at LOCUS, the coalition of responsible real estate investors within Smart Growth America.

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Now hiring: Research and Development Manager

Smart Growth America seeks an experienced and skilled Research and Development Manager to conceptualize, manage, and conduct technical and quantitative analyses regarding a wide variety of issues associated with the built environment and transportation, including economics, real estate, social equity, and the environment.

This is a full-time, joint appointment with the George Washington University (GWU) School of Business Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The market for real estate and the built environment is shifting toward a sustainable, walkable urban future that requires fundamentally different skills, policies and financing approaches. Together, Smart Growth America and GWU research and advocate about these market trends.

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Congress is about to have a key opportunity to make communities more walkable. Will they?


Yesterday, the U.S. Surgeon General launched a new nationwide Call to Action to help Americans be healthier by making walking and physical activity a bigger part of their daily lives.

The event recognized physical activity as one of the nation’s highest health priorities. And as Dr. Murthy explained yesterday, building communities where it is safe and convenient to walk, bike, or wheelchair roll is part of the solution.

Congress is about to have a critical opportunity to take action on this issue. Legislators are currently working on a multiyear federal transportation bill which will shape communities and transportation programs for years to come. As representatives negotiate the bill in the coming weeks, will they prioritize walkable communities?

Tell your Representative to listen to the Surgeon General: Make walkable communities a priority in the next federal transportation bill.

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What if we labeled unwalkable neighborhoods like we do cigarettes?

The Surgeon General of the United States will kick off a new nationwide Call to Action later this morning, aiming to help Americans lead healthier lives—by making walking and physical activity built-in features of more of our neighborhoods.

Over the past decade, scores of research has shown the correlation between physical inactivity and sprawl development. Today, 10 percent of the preventable deaths in America are related to physical inactivity and its related diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes—and communities without safe places to walk are part of the problem. Smart Growth America’s 2003 report Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl was one of the first to examine this issue. Today, the Surgeon General is making it a national health priority.

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Saco, ME is breaking out of short-term cycles with long-term thinking

SacoPhoto: Saco, ME, Jasperado via Flickr.

Maintaining New England traditions is at the top of Saco, ME’s agenda. How can this small city maintain the physical, economic, and cultural assets that make it unique while also changing in ways that make it a desirable destination for tourists, homebuyers, businesses, and investors?

Saco recently wrapped up a future visioning process intended to answer these questions and guide future public investments and economic development initiatives. Mayor Don Pilon, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, explains that short Council terms (lasting just two years) were part of the impetus for the visioning process, known as Bridge 2025. “We all sit down and think through what we want to accomplish in the two years that we have,” Mayor Pilon explained, but there was rarely common vision for what should happen beyond that budget cycle. To establish that, Mayor Pilon deliberately stepped back and supported a process that put businesses, residents, and other stakeholders in the driver’s seat. “This had to be driven by the public,” he explained. “When we’re gone, this needs to be continued by the stakeholders. This is their product, not our product.”

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Now hiring: Transportation Program Manager

Smart Growth America is seeking a Transportation Program Manager to help communities across the country better coordinate land use and transportation policies. This person will deliver technical assistance to state agency staff, work with town and city leaders across the country, and advocate on transportation policy and program issues with members of Congress.

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