Category: Local

Councilmember Velma Johnson on the importance of community in Midfield, AL


Midfield, AL’s Splash Pad. Photo by City of Midfield via Facebook.

In the increasingly technologically connected, fast-paced, global economy-driven world of today, it can be hard for even the small towns of America to retain their ‘small town’ feel. And yet, that’s exactly what Midfield, AL is striving to maintain and preserve.

Located just outside of Birmingham, AL, Midfield, with a population just over 5,000, is known as “the Convenient City”. It’s a place where residents make it a point to “eat, shop, and do all of their business right in the city,” says Councilmember Velma Johnson, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

Those who live in Midfield say they have a sense of belonging—of knowing and being known by so many others in the community. “As humans we want to connect to one another,” says Johnson. “In Midfield, we’re fortunate to live in the type of community where police officers know children by name.”

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Local, Local Leaders Council | 1 Comment

A Citizen’s Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development

You may know LEED as a program that evaluates and certifies green buildings across the country. Now, a new guide from the Natural Resources Defense Council takes the green certification concept beyond individual buildings and applies it to the neighborhood context.

A Citizen’s Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development is a hands-on introduction for local environmental groups, smart growth organizations, neighborhood residents and just about anyone interested in making our communities better and greener. The guide is user-friendly and accessible, to help anyone learn about environmental standards for green land development and become an advocate for implementing these standards in their own communities.

Following two short introductory sections (“How to Use This Guide” and “What is a Sustainable Neighborhood?”), the Guide identifies key concepts for neighborhood sustainability, referencing the LEED-ND credits and prerequisites that inform each. The Guide includes creative suggestions to help users get started using LEED-ND’s diverse standards in their own communities, as well as a “Sustainable Neighborhood Development Checklist.” The checklist is a sort of crib sheet for every LEED-ND credit and prerequisite, presenting them in an easy-to-use format for evaluating development proposals, assessing existing neighborhoods, and informing community planning and policy.

The Citizen’s Guide empowers you, the citizen, to provide innovative ways to improve your own community and promote greater widespread adoption of sustainable practices in more inclusive, healthy, and environmentally sound places for everyone.

Download A Citizen’s Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development at NRDC.org.

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Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute hosts infill policy workshop in Billings, Montana

Last week, Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute convened a two-day-long “Introduction to Infill” workshop in Billings, Montana. Infill is a development strategy that uses land within an already built-up area for further construction, focusing on reusing and repositioning obsolete or underutilized buildings and sites.

Together with the City of Billings, the Billings Association of Realtors, the Billings Home Builders Association, Healthy By Design, the Montana Association of Planners, Cole Law Firm, the Western Central Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Billings Chamber of Commerce, the workshop offered expert perspectives on infill development to the community in preparation for the City’s goal of developing an Infill Policy. This type of development is essential to renewing blighted neighborhoods and knitting them back together with more prosperous communities.

More than 80 participants from Montana and North Dakota attended the two-day workshop on April 26 and 27 in Billings. The workshop provided an overview of the state-of-the-practice, as well as the application of infill policies to specific issues – economic development, transportation, private sector involvement, and examples of infill development in Billings and around the country. Local perspectives were also provided through several sessions comprised of local developers, consultants, City staff and other organizations.

The workshop was designed to start the process of developing an infill policy for the City of Billings. A portion of the workshop was devoted to discussing the basic elements of an infill policy and beginning to define infill for Billings. A working group will be formed from the workshop attendees and others in the community in the coming months to develop a draft infill policy to present to the City Council for consideration in late 2011 or early 2012.

More information about the workshop, including the days’ agenda, workshop session descriptions and presentations are available at the City of Billings’ website. If you would like to know more about Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute’s workshops and seminars, visit http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/leadership-institute or email leadershipinstitute [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Posted in Leadership Institute, Local, Montana, Resources, Smart Growth 101, Technical assistance, Tools, Workshops | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment