People Habitat Essay Collection Discusses Livable Cities Without Planning Jargon

In a February 25 Smart Growth Maryland blog post, Maryland Department of Planning’s (MDP’s) David Whitaker offered his thoughts on the essay collected People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities by Kaid Benfield.  Benfield is the Director of Sustainable Communities, Energy & Transportation Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.  From the blog post:

Where many planners and urban professionals focus on infill, walkability, preservation, transit access, planning and place-making tools, Kaid’s focus goes beyond standard code words like sustainability and green and instead explores the environment of older and newer communities, where healthy living and a decent Walk Score is a way of life rather than an automobile ride away. Instead of jargon, Kaid uses accessible language. We identify with many of the places he describes, but more importantly, the reader grasps the attributes and qualities of the communities that we are drawn to and where people, institutions, and businesses live and thrive.  …

While many of the concepts that Kaid explores are not easily transcribed to the use tables of a zoning ordinance, planning professionals need to understand them and incorporate them into their work.  There’s no question that we should adapt planning tools, transportation decisions, financing methods and approval processes to foster smart, livable and healthy communities.  …

The 25 essays in People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think about Greener, Healthier Cities are highly recommended to help get us there. The essays explore more than density, transit access, preservation and affordability; they probe the places that draw people and examine what’s working, such as where walking, transit or a bicycle ride effectively co-exists with automobiles. What begins as “communities of the imagination” morphs throughout this book into a unique and sometimes humorous examination of places that can “nourish the mind, body and spirit.”

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