Smart Growth America's coalition members gather for annual meeting

coalition-mtg_3-2014Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1,000 Friends of Maryland (left) with Tyler Grote of Smart Growth America at last week’s meeting.

Last week, members of Smart Growth America’s non-profit coalition gathered in Washington, DC for the coalition’s annual meeting and advocacy day on Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday, coalition members and Smart Growth America staff discussed the new issues and progress made in each member’s region. Staff from Smart Growth America and Transportation for America briefed the members about progress on projects including the National Complete Streets Coalition, innovative transportation policies in Michigan and projects to improve community health in the transportation planning process.

Then member organizations presented about their achievements in the last year and discussed the challenges within each region. The Alliance to Re-Industrialize for a Sustainable Economy (ARISE) Minnesota’s Zachary Zweifler gave an insightful presentation on how they are designing projects to transform former industrial sites into mixed-use developments using non-traditional approaches. And Kaid Benfield, co-founder of Smart Growth America and the author of People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, shared a few of the major points from his book, which discusses topics as wide-ranging as “green” housing developments that are no such thing, the tricky matter of gentrifying inner cities, why people don’t walk much anymore, and the relationship between cities and religion.

The following day coalition members headed to Capitol Hill to meet with members of their Congressional delegations to discuss the importance of smart growth in their regions and to ask for support of a few pieces of legislation. The Safe Streets Act (H.R. 2468/S. 2004), which encourages states and MPOs to create an inclusive transportation policy within two years, would help make streets safer for everyone who uses them, including people driving cars, walking, biking and taking public transit. With the reauthorization of the surface transportation bill scheduled for this summer, this is also a great time to highlight the benefits of Safe Streets and Complete Streets legislation. Another topic on Capitol Hill is the BUILD Act, which would reauthorize the EPA’s Brownfields program and make improvements to the program that would allow more communities to clean up and redevelop their brownfield sites.

Smart Growth America is the only national coalition of state and local organizations working for smart growth across the country. Learn more about becoming a coalition member today.

Complete Streets