Smart Growth America's Top 12 of 2012: Speaking nationally about smart growth

We’re doing a special blog series highlighting some of Smart Growth America’s favorite accomplishments from 2012. This is the eighth of twelve installments.

In 2012, we joined together with colleagues and allies to learn from one another and work together on our common goals.

At the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, we talked about area-wide planning, the transportation debate in Congress, infill development in small cities, implementing Complete Streets, progressive trends in state transportation policy, how to turn transit-oriented development in to economic prosperity, and how to create political support for smart growth projects.


Telling the stories of great places

Advocates for smart growth tend to talk a lot about urban planning, street design, and a whole host of technical information related to building towns and cities. But many of the people whose opinions matter most in local decisions don’t think about their communities this way, and this is something we all need to learn from.

Smart growth strategies create interesting, exciting places to live and work, and the people who live in those places benefit most from this. At this year’s Rail~volution conference, which concluded earlier this week in Washington, DC, I heard dozens of people tell stories of the town or neighborhood they love and how smart growth strategies have helped make it even better.


Building for a new America: RailVolution 2011 in Washington, DC

To understand the new American dream, we have to understand the new America.

This was the theme of today’s opening plenary session at RailVolution, a four-day conference dedicated to discussing strategies for building livable communities served by transit. This year’s conference, which takes place in Washington, DC, will discuss the best strategies to support downtowns, the benefits rail can bring to a regional economy, and policy initiatives that can support these goals.

Opening this morning’s plenary was Chris Leinberger, President of LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors. Joining him was Manuel Pastor, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Both Leinberger and Pastor spoke about shifting trends in the United States, and how these shifts will influence communities’ strategies for building homes, business areas and transportation networks. The U.S. is diversifying both ethnically and racially, Pastor explained, and the suburbs in particular are growing more diverse than ever before. These aren’t the only changes at work, however. Leinberger added that the U.S.’s population is growing older, as millions of Americans reach retirement age. The number of homes in America without children is also on the rise, and young people are increasingly moving to cities and urban areas.