Governor Whitman: Great places are created by good design and smart policy

Crossposted from the Governors’ Institute on Community Design

Policy plays an important role in building great places. That’s the message Governor Christine Todd Whitman delivered to leading civic leaders, policymakers, urban designers, and entrepreneurs participating in the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary forum on July 14, 2011.

Gov. Whitman, a key member of the GICD’s Governors’ Council, spoke about the importance of design in creating great places. Stating that “one of things we found early on is that part of what defines neighborhoods is their physical aspects – what they look like,” she discussed how elements such as front stoops allow for the the development of community. She recounted how, as Governor of New Jersey, she saw first-hand how many well-intentioned rules and regulations prevented such design elements and planning strategies from creating great places.

Governor Whitman also addressed the role of governors in creating vibrant, livable cities. Stating that “governors can do a lot to help create an atmosphere that allows for cities to grow,” she stressed the importance of coordinating the efforts of state government and breaking down silos. Governor Whitman mentioned the Governors’ Institute on Community Design workshop she had recently attended and how such efforts to align state administrations and policies are critical to the success of cites — and how without such alignment the best of intentions and investments can be for naught.

The panel, which was moderated by E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist for The Washington Post, included Isabel Wilkerson, journalist and author; Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, Calif.; and the Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick; as well as Governor Whitman.

The Governors’ Institute on Community Design® advises governors and state leaders as they seek to guide growth and development in their states. The Institute brings together leading practitioners and academicians in the fields of government, design, development, and regional economics to help each state’s executive team make informed choices as they shape the future of their states. For more information visit

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