This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.


It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.


It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Governance through Community

In the last post we took a look at Using Online Communities to encourage Direct Democracy for On-The-Ground Communities.  The underlying rationale being there has to be an on-the-ground community organization to bring about new community paradigms and not just a virtual group on the World Wide Web.  The specific online communities were chosen by Finding Resources and Connections to Create New Community Paradigms through the New Communities Paradigm Wiki.

This came about when we took a Second look at Making Cities Work.  One fairly obvious conclusion arrived at is that communities are going to have to cope with far more austere circumstances.  Another conclusion is that communities will have to depend to a great extent upon the sweat-equity of their community members.  The effort to create new community paradigms cannot work without this regardless of other circumstances such as whether or not City Hall is supporting or opposing the effort.

The more typical scenario is to have one part of a community organize and use resources to oppose other groups competing for the same resources.  This has usually been done by getting someone from a particular group elected to City Council or a similar legislative body.  The problem has been that in many cases policy shifts back and forth never getting fully implemented because different factions win and lose over time or some factions within the community are often marginalized.

While encouraging greater direct democracy based on resources that can now be found online is seen as an important step to bring about the type of paradigm change desired for a community, it needs to be done within an environment of open Community Governance.

Community Governance is a term that can be thought of as both a process and as a vehicle for the process.  People can approach governance through community interaction as in town hall meetings.  This means that Community Governance does not have to replace a community's current form of municipal government, it can supplement it.  City leaders can feel more confident that they are hearing the voice of the community rather than a few but vocal advocates of special interests.  People can also approach governance by community using it to directly seek input from all members of the community perhaps even diminishing the role of elected officials.  Either way, what is being sought is a means of deliberative decision making.  One organization providing resources on deliberative decision making is the Kettering Foundation, which asks the important question, What Does It Take for Democracy to Work as It Should?

The Kettering Foundation recognizes that as members of a community, We Have to Choose.pdf but does not see deliberative decision making as a means of usurping control from the majority of a community.
Democracy based on public deliberation is not direct democracy or an alternative to representative democracy. Choosing representatives requires the sound judgment that deliberation promotes.

The Kettering Foundation also recognizes that one of the biggest challenges facing communities is developing the capacity of Working thru Difficult Decisions.pdf
The Kettering Foundation has found that sound decisions are more likely to be made when people weigh—carefully and fairly—all of their options for acting on problems against what they consider most valuable for their collective well-being. This is deliberative decision making. It not only takes into consideration facts but also recognizes the less tangible things that people value, such as their safety and their freedom to act.
One suggested approach is Naming Framing Difficult Issues for Sound Decisions.pdf
The obvious question is, what would motivate citizens to invest their limited time and other resources in grappling with problems brimming with conflict-laden, emotionally charged disagreements? Generally speaking, people avoid conflict, and they don’t usually invest their energy unless they see that something deeply important to them, their families, and their neighbors is at stake. And they won’t get involved unless they believe there is something they, themselves, must do.
These differences don’t necessarily become divisive, however, especially when people recognize that although they don’t share the same circumstances, they share the same basic concerns. In deliberative decision making, people can see that they both agree and disagree. This encourages them to agree to disagree and lessens the likelihood of polarization.
This is likely the most significant step provided so far that can be taken in creating new community paradigms. People implementing it are fundamentally changing their and their community's approach to these issues.  This can make some fearful of attempting this because, as said in Working thru Difficult Decisions.pdf"Deliberation seems like neurosurgery or something only an outsider can do".


Fortunately, the same article makes the case that this is not true and there are organizations out there to help.  This help comes at three different levels.  The first is a community platform for working together with other members of your community.

The World Cafe Community - Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter

World Cafe provides a space where practitioners and supporters can share their experiences and learn from each other, a place for those new to the World Cafe to ask questions, and a place for us all to experience deep and meaningful conversations about those things that really matter. The World Cafe cafetogo.pdf provides the Seven Principles of the Cafe that are also explained in the video.  The World CafĂ© is on Facebook


  

The second is a coalition of professionals and practitioners in the field of dialogue and deliberations that could be appealed to for further assistance.   The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), which can be found on the web at NCDD.org, actively promotes learning and collaboration among practitioners, public leaders, scholars and organizations involved in dialogue, deliberation, and other innovative group processes that help people tackle their most challenging problems.  A useful resource provided by the NCDD is the NCDD 2010 Resource Guide.  The NCDD is also on Facebook.

The third are professional organizations that set up these types of venues for specific communities. One such organization is AmericaSpeaks, a non-profit that through innovative deliberative tools such as 21st Century Town Meeting®, provides a platform helping people across the country and around the world  have an impact on their communities. By giving the right tools to citizens, it provides an opportunity to have a strong voice in public decision-making within the increasingly short timeframes required of decision-makers.  As a result, citizens can have an impact on decisions and those in leadership positions can make more informed, lasting decisions.  AmericaSpeaks also has a page on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Using Online Communities to encourage Direct Democracy for On-The-Ground Communities

One of the greatest challenges facing anybody attempting to implement a new community paradigm within their own community will be how to organize venues that allow for decisions through direct democracy on behalf of the group or organization or even entire community. Usually this is left to the traditional political body but this effort would not be seen as necessary by the community if that was already happening to the full extent to which it needed to happen.

In this post, we are introducing other resources available through the New Community Paradigms Wiki related to Governance, particularly the Community Governance and People’s Governance wikipages.

People’s Governance wikipage offers some direct and indirect resources for direct democratic participation.  One of the issues with Direct Democracy which means having community members having direct impact on policy issues is logistically coordinating a large number of people and obtaining the votes. There are tools and resources to address this challenge.  With very large numbers, it may work better to use other methods of ascertaining the wishes of the community as long as the members of the community are comfortable with doing that.

The Center for Deliberative Democracy  which is housed in the Department of Communication at Stanford University does research on democracy and public opinion and developed the concept of Deliberative Polling® which makes possible what can be called Deliberative Democracy.

This concept was applied in the What's Next California? Deliberative Poll | NextCA.org that took place last year.  The project was a first state-wide deliberative poll in California and the 30 proposals presented were deliberated by a statewide scientific sample of 412 participants.
What's Next California is an unprecedented attempt to bring the people into the process in a new way—one that is representative and thoughtful. A scientific random sample of the entire state will be transported to a single place for a weekend of face-to-face discussions, in small groups and in dialogue with competing experts. In California's first statewide “Deliberative Poll,” the people will be supported by factual information and will consider the critical arguments on both sides of issues, then will articulate their priorities for fixing the state.
More can be learned from watching CDD: California State of Mind: PBS Special which features excerpts from the PBS documentary on the What's Next California Deliberative Poll® on governance reform which aired last year.  What's Next California is also on Facebook.

More recently on November 1, 2011 the PBS Newshour did an in-depth report about California and featured "What's Next California's Deliberative Poll" and some of its results in the story California Voters Fed-Up With Gridlock as Budget Crunch Lingers | PBS NewsHour.    

Jim Fishkin of Stanford University, who originated the concept of Deliberative Polling®,  wrote about 100 years of California ballot measures, highlighting findings from the What's Next California Deliberative Poll that could be applied to the challenge of how to Fix California’s Democracy Crisis

SPUR or San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association will be holding a panel discussion on January 3, 2012 by three key organizers of the project — James Fishkin of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, Zabrae Valentine of California Forward and Lenny Mendonca of McKinsey & Company to discuss the project process and findings regarding the originally considered four basic areas: the initiative process, the Legislature, state/local relations and tax/fiscal issues.

MATT MISZEWSKI'S GLOBAL OPEN GOVERNMENT BLOG FIXING POTHOLES back in 2010 looked at the possible ties between Deliberative Polling and crowdsourcing.
The question I have is whether our newer social computing technologies and platforms can move this effort into a better set of outcomes. What if we utilized social media to crowdsource our deliberative polling efforts. The technology, and actually its constraints, can help policymakers better understand the effect of viral messaging within a population, a population that has self-selected interest in a particular topic via their profiles, tagging or other indicators built into new platforms. As a result the Social Deliberative Polling (should I trademark that ) would also be much quicker and provide much needed clarity within a much faster policy ecosystem.
This could allow a community to create a system that kept an eye on the community's vision on a fairly continual basis without being bogged down by endless meetings.  It is also possible though to have public input by all voting community members on very important issues in large American cities.  NYC Gives Citizens a Say in the Budget
"Participatory budgeting allows for citizens to get past that bureaucracy barrier and feel empowered about ideas and about making a difference in the community."
There is still though a need for Everyday Democracy and the organization of the same name, along with other organizations, works with both its website and the Everyday Democracy Facebook page toward the ultimate vision of local communities creating and sustaining a public dialogue for community problem solving believing that such strong local democracies can form the cornerstone of a vibrant national democracy.
Check out this TEDx video about civic empowerment beyond civic education. How do we reach untapped "domestic reserves of energy" - people who don't vote, don't volunteer, or don't talk with neighbors. It starts with participation, respect, and working together toward a common goal.
Completing “we” strongerdemocracy.org



There is no attempt to judge whether any particular community should want to use these resources to push for substantial change in their community.  The political body traditionally assigned the basic responsibilities of community building may be fulfilling this function so well that the issue never comes up. The political body may partner or help with the effort because it sees the potential benefit and realizes that it can no longer do it on its own or it may become more entrenched and oppose the effort to protect its squandered power.  This blog discusses only two communities, Parochialville and Innovattown and neither one of them actually exists.

This is not an effort that can be fully implemented by any individual alone. Individuals would have to gather as groups, groups would have to coalesce into a community-based organization and that community based organization would need to become integrated into the larger community of which they were all members by means of direct democracy, raising again other challenges.  Each level though can still be a catalyst to forming the next level of organization if the need is truly there.  What would also be needed is an environment conducive to dialogue and deliberation that would allow for  Community Governance  and that will be examined more closely in the next post.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finding Resources and Connections to Create New Community Paradigms

The last post to this blog only began to look at the gap between the stated ideals that are the goal of creating new community paradigms and the more pragmatic means of achieving those goals.  It did recognize that some level of austerity was going to be imposed and that other means were going have to be found to enhance community wealth.  One suggested source of such community wealth is the people making up the community and realizing that resource through volunteerism.

There are, however, a number of challenges that still need to be addressed.  We have touched upon a number of separate components making up a community, placemaking, the health of a city to make sure it is livable, the economics of a livable city,  even peering into the soul of a community, and now can start looking from a more holistic point of view.  This combining of various vantage points brings up yet even more complexities and challenges. The purpose of this blog and the related wiki is to try to provide some assistance in addressing these challenges.

One of the foundational premises of this effort is that it has to be planted and grown from community, based in the traditional sense of place and on-the-ground social connections. It cannot be done solely online, even though a basic premise of this effort is that the Internet offers tremendous resources that can be used to help bring it about.

This will be a challenge for future organizers and has been for social media. While there has been successes to some degree with combining social media communities with physical locations, the connections were for the most part based online with no parallel connections between physical locations or by people based on those locations.  There are some online programs designed to do this but many are still in market beta.

The primary contribution that this blog will work to make is identify online resources that can be used for helping communities built their own vision.  The secondary contribution that can be made through the New Community Paradigms Wiki is providing the potential for connection with groups that have expertise in these areas. This may be a more valuable contribution though it does require a greater investment by whomever wants to take advantage of it.

The platform for finding relevant groups is Facebook. Both of the wikipages cited above also have links to Facebook sites featuring related organizations as do most of the New Community Paradigm wikipages. A listing of all the Facebook related sites is available through this blog on the righthand sidebar under New Community Paradigms Wiki icon, Facebook Connections for New Community Paradigms.

Facebook was chosen not only because it is the most popular online social media site and designed to be relatively easy to use, it was also chosen because if an organization decides to be on Facebook, it is making an effort to reach out to people and wants to connect.

These resources are not designed to be exhaustive rather they are a starting point for further exploration.  The benefit hopefully being provided is having them in one place in an organized and understandable format. In the next post, we will introduce more resources available through the New Community Paradigms Wiki dealing with direct democracy through Community Governance and People’s Governance wikipages.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Second look at Making Cities Work

It has been a while since there was a post to this blog.  The time has been spent working on the New Community Paradigms Wiki.  Although a few pages have been featured, it is still a work in progress both in design and development.

The end of the last blog post promised that this post would turn from ideal visions of creating a community environment to a more pragmatic perspective on what will be required in the way of changes to help bring it about.  To do this means going back to one of the first posts A Beginning: Working to create Liveable Cities through Liveanomics and "Liveanomics" EIU Livable Cities Studies wiki page.  In particular a second look at the video Making cities work: Delivering results in a downturn.  The observations found in this blog post were taken from the Diigo Annotated Link for the video and can also be found under the Diigo group page for this effort.  The Diigo connections, however, are still in beta.

The video is focused on economic development efforts taking place in England but there are still common lessons to be learned.  The notations in the Diigo sticky notes follow the video, the observations written here do not being that they are intended to assist in this effort not mirror it.

It is a hard reality that the future of communities promises to be more austere with less public funding available from either local, state or federal sources.  In part because the economy will not create the wealth necessary to generate the sought after public funds, but also because we are politically committing ourselves to this future austerity through political decisions being or attempted to be imposed now.  Regardless, it will be a reality that must be prepared for in terms of financing, budgeting and discovering alternative means of community support.  Not only to maintain and improve on existing beneficial community attributes but to keep from having those attributes degraded.

There is a danger of social disconnect being brought on by austerity measures, cutting people off from their community.  Other pathways will need to be found to help fund and support our communities.  It needs to be recognized that communities should do more than provide shelter, they should provide opportunities and more fundamentally economic opportunities, while at the same time create and maintain a livable community which respects the environment.

What is needed is a more holistic view, developing local competency, asking the private sector of our communities to work in totally different way from traditional ways, while respecting the desire of business wanting government to get out of their way.  The maintaining of this balance will be a challenge.

Any efforts to bring about new community paradigms will also need to involve outside agencies, both public and private in finding avenues of mutual benefit.  Having a cooperative government entity to work through can also be a plus.  It also needs to be recognized that in some cases government can be overly reactive and not supportive but right now we will assume that it is willing to cooperate.  The challenge is working with experts to create innovative ideas without being snared by ideas that are politically or economically motivated giving advantage to others or because they are expedient for the short term but not truly sustainable.

Working to bring about new community paradigms means creating an environment from which there is more social capital from which to draw.   This will require a good deal of volunteering from members of the community, as participants actively pursuing their role as the producers of democracy.  Volunteering is not limited though to formal volunteering in a community but all altruistic forms of social interaction. Volunteering at its best is a face to face proposition which means creating social connections within a community, helping to increase the democratic participation being sought.

There does need to be something beyond volunteering though in the effort to create a new community paradigm. The notion that a thousand flowers will bloom without government support is without merit.  One challenge is defining what will rise out of the act of creating a viable community paradigm shift.

In creating community paradigms outcomes are as important as outputs. Output is the metric by which an effort is judged and is usually quantitative.  Outcomes are the changes to the community that come from implementing the effort. Your work is meant to leave behind something sustainable in new partnerships, new ways of working, new ideas.  This mirrors the work that came out of Soul of the Community project, more at the wiki page Soul of a Community.  Among those organizations that are potential partners are universities.  Universities are changing their role in working with communities, especially concerning economic development. They can be a great resources without necessarily having an agenda in trying to establish political control. Students can also be a great resource for community change.

Different disciplines including design, technology and business can be brought together to help create innovative ideas. They can, as should community paradigm seeking organizations themselves, challenge the status quo. At the same time there is still a need for structure.  Another challenge is how community paradigm efforts can best achieve that structure?

The video on Making Cities Work suggests that any major community based effort will have three requirements to implement it, leadership, vision and funding.  While this blog post focused on funding or the need to find alternatives, leadership, and even more so vision are of primary importance.

Even when not seeking to institute something as comprehensive as a paradigm shift,  experience teaches that that any major change in an organization or a community must take hold in the first six months of its initial implementation or the existing organizational culture may attempt to put the brakes on the effort in self survival.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bicycles Build Communities

The importance of 'place' to a community and the need for 'placemaking' was examined through the last couple of blog posts and the resources found on the New Community Paradigm Places wikipage. The blog post Placemaking - for communities the canvas becomes the art and the Community Places wikipage examines the extrinsic aspects of place. The blog post Finding the soul of your community and the reason to create your own community paradigms and the Soul of a Community wikipage examines some of the intrinsic aspects of place.

There is one more resource page in the Places wikipage and that is the Bicycles Build Communities wikipage. Personally, I am not a bicyclist. The purpose of this post is not raise the community benefits of bicycling, even though they exist or to advocate for their inclusion in the community fabric, though it will.  It is to look at how other communities have brought about these changes in defining for themselves a new community paradigm.

Living near the traffic-choked City of Los Angeles, the question of  bike lanes can be a contentious one. A recent move by L.A. to give a car lane to bicycles resulted in a number of debates as to its wisdom.  The most common objections being safety and money.

Los Angeles is beginning to change but it has a very different view it seems about bicycling compared to other cities in the world.  The city most supportive of bicycling, it can be easily argued, is Copenhagen, Denmark.


Other communities in the United States are also recognizing the benefits of bicycling lanes and that when properly integrated into the fabric of the community can address the question of safety.

Cambridge Massachusett - Safety Benefits of Bike Lanes
Bike lanes help define road space, decrease the stress level of bicyclists riding in traffic, encourage bicyclists to ride in the correct direction of travel, and signal motorists that cyclists have a right to the road. Bike lanes help to better organize the flow of traffic and reduce the chance that motorists will stray into cyclists’ path of travel.1, 2 Bicyclists have stated their preference for marked on-street bicycle lanes in numerous surveys.3 In addition, several real-time studies (where cyclists of varying abilities and backgrounds ride and assess actual routes and street conditions) have found that cyclists are more comfortable and assess a street as having a better level of service for them where there are marked bike lanes present.
Bicycling cannot only add to the livability of the community in terms of helping to create a healthy city, it can also add to the aesthetic appeal of place.  One notable example in the United States is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.  The webpage and Facebook page will let you know that the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick  by the creation of a world-class urban bike and pedestrian path that connects neighborhoods, Cultural Districts and entertainment amenities, and serves as the downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system.

As to the money question, this blog started with the position that economics had to be considered in the blog post A Beginning: Working to create Liveable Cities through Liveanomics | EIU BUSINESS RESEARCH.

One of the common resources between the Economics of Livable Communities EIU "Liveanomics" wikipage and the Places wikipage is the video on the talk by Professor Jan Gehl, founding partner of Gehl Architects,Copenhagen on Cities for people (Diigo annotated link).

Professor Gehl gave the closing keynote at the Economist Conferences Event, "Creating tomorrow's liveable cities".  The video provides information on the benefits bicycling and walking, when integrated into the community landscape, can have on creating a livable community.

None of this would have been possible though without advocacy from outside the halls of city government.  In Southern California one such advocacy group that helped bring about recent changes is the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.
LACBC engages in a wide variety of policy, advocacy, education, and community building work to make the streets of Los Angeles County more bike friendly for all types of cyclists! We engage through our advocacy with the City of Los Angeles' Bike Plan Implementation, Spanish language education and bike repair through City of Lights, policy work in Glendale, Culver City, the South Bay, and Long Beach, amongst other cities, and community building through the River Ride and our Sunday Funday monthly member rides.
Nationally, one can turn to the League of American Bicyclists.
The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness & transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. 
We do this by representing the interests of the nation's 57 million cyclists. With a current membership of 300,000 affiliated cyclists, including 25,000 individuals and 700 affiliated organizations, the League works to bring better bicycling to your community.
There are both Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Facebook and League of American Bicyclists Facebook pages.  This is only a starting point to demonstrate that there are resources out there to create new paradigms for one's community and that they can be built upon.

The last few blog posts have looked at creating new paradigms to bring about an ideal community environment.  The next post will go back to take a more pragmatic view on what will be needed in economic changes to help pay for it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Finding the soul of your community and the reason to create your own community paradigms

In the last post, Placemaking - for communities the canvas becomes the art, we began exploring the concept of  Place and Placemaking from the perspective of  Project for Public Spaces or PPS and similar organizations.

Placemaking, was defined by PPS as both an overarching idea and a hands-on tool for improving a neighborhood, city or region.  The linked to site went on to say of Placemaking:
Put simply, it involves looking at, listening to, and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in a particular space, to discover their needs and aspirations. This information is then used to create a common vision for that place.
The New Community Paradigm Places wikipage  which will serve as a depository for community resources on Place was also introduced.  Community Places, was examined in the last post.  This post will deal with what has been described as the  Soul of a Community.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup joined forces and following an approach similar to PPS studied cities across the country to determine what attaches people to their communities by launching the Knight Soul of the Community project in 2008.  Three years and close to 43,000 interviews later with people in 26 communities, the study found three main qualities responsible for attaching people to place:
  1. Social offerings, such as entertainment venues and places to meet, 
  2. Openness (how welcoming a place is) and 
  3. Area’s aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces)
The same three answers apply to cities across the country as shown by the Vimeo video below An Explanation of Community Attachment - Soul of the Community Project.




What is even more interesting is that these three aspects which provide for Residential or Community Attachment also have a strong correlation with economic prosperity.  By studying the 26 individual cities that participated in the study, it is possible to determine what steps can be taken to replicate the same results.  The study showed both good and opportunities for improvement in each city. Each city had a its own story to tell. The stories were of place and, more importantly, the stories were of people and how they interacted with the place they called their community.

From the Aberdeen post:
Despite its high ratings of resident caring, social offerings remains a challenge area for Aberdeen, specifically in the areas of local night life and arts and cultural events. This must be addressed as these areas are particularly important to young people. Over the past three years of the study, Aberdeen has made significant gains in attaching young people 18-34 years old to the community. Imagine what could be possible with more attention to these aspects of social offerings.
From the Corpus Christi post:
The comments I had read in the article announcing the presentation flooded my mind as I stood facing what seemed to be a completely different crowd that night. And I worried about deflating that crowd with my honest response. But I said, “It seems to me that some of you, and I’m not sure if you’re in this room, but some of you are stuck in place.”
The Soul of the Community study helps identify new approaches to help create transformational change and new possibilities for continued progress, in other words it helps in creating new community paradigms.  A community can use the study’s findings to help optimize the strengths of their community and address the challenge of improving of areas community attachment thereby potentially increasing local economic growth.


This effort' to create new community paradigms began by looking at economic development in working to create Liveable Cities through Liveanomics.  The relationship of community attachment to economic development in the Soul of the Community Study provides particular relevance for this effort by going beyond the recent economic crisis as the study's findings can help leaders include new ideas into the existing economic rebuilding and development conversation.

Good economics and finance are essential to the sustainability of a city but they are not the soul of the community and do not make up the all of that community's wealth.  This was demonstrated in the one Southern California city included in Knight Soul of the Community Study - Long Beach, California..
Ratings of the local economy increased in 2010; however, the economy is still not a key factor emotionally connecting residents to their communities. Perception of local leadership is rated lower in 2010, but it is not a key driver in attaching residents to Long Beach.
To increase its community wealth, Long Beach added to its own natural assets of good weather and relaxed Southern California attitude by investing in high-quality bicycle infrastructure and encouraging bike-related businesses.

Long Beach according to PPS offers charisma according to their online article How Charismatic Is Your City? showing that there is more to a community than just the city budget and that investments into the livability of the community can have a long term return on that investment.  Charlie Gandy, mobility coordinator of the city of Long Beach, California talks about his city and what they have done to enhance their charisma for the members of the community and others in this TEDx. video.



Monday, September 19, 2011

Placemaking for communities the canvas becomes the art


So far new community paradigms have been loosely defined as the changes brought purposely about by communities to redefine themselves as being more "livable".  More livable was defined on the onset as offering healthy environments for the members of the community.  We also began discussions on the essential inclusion of economics into the equation and the challenge of complexity in addressing these paradigms.

All of this has to take "Place" somewhere. "Place", particularly when speaking of community, is a defining element of a livable city.  How we define "Place" is an important component of creating new paradigms for our communities.  We have available to us a number of resources that can assist us with this endeavor.  As way of introducing them I am going to introduce a page from the New Community Paradigms wiki that is being created in parallel with this blog. The Places wikipage will be a depository for community resources addressing ideas regarding "place" as a community asset. Right now there are two categories Community Places, which will be examined in this post. Soul of a Community will be dealt with in a future post. 

The first offering in New Community Paradigm Community Places is PPS Project for PUBLIC SPACES. The About page for PPS informs us that PPS was founded in 1975 to expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.  As a resource for this effort, it is important to note that:

In addition to leading projects in our nine program areas, PPS also trains more than 10,000 people every year and reaches countless more through our websites and publications. PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools and inspiration about Placemaking.

The most important question maybe though,

What is Placemaking?

Categories: Articles, Creating Public Multi-use Destinations, Multi-Use, Placemaking 101
“’Placemaking’ is both an overarching idea and a hands-on tool for improving a neighborhood, city or region. It has the potential to be one of the most transformative ideas of this century.” -Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago
Placemaking, as PPS so aptly puts it comes From the Heart of a Community. 

Other work being done with Placemaking can be found on the PPS Facebook site. Facebook, because it is so popular, will be used as another avenue to promote community connections upon which to build new community paradigms. PPS was chosen to lead this particular perspective on new community paradigms because they see the community as a canvas on which to try new ideas, maybe clay would be a better analogy since the "Place" becomes an integral part of the community. 

Smart Growth America is an organization that advocates for people who want to live and work in great neighborhoods. We believe smart growth solutions support businesses and jobs, provide more options for how people get around and make it more affordable to live near work and the grocery store. Our coalition works with communities to fight sprawl and save money. We are making America’s neighborhoods great together.  

As creative as the ideas that can come from PPS and their like may be, they cannot be put into practice if there is not a strong movement to make them a reality.  Some communities may be able to create this movement on their own, but others will need some form of support. The creation of new community paradigms is not limited to within the boundaries of any community.  Smart Growth America is one organization that can offer support.  As with PPS, there is also a Smart Growth America Facebook page.  

One of the founding principles of this blog and of the accompanying wiki is that the economics of creating new community paradigms are of the utmost importance.  One Placemaking advocacy group that has this as a fundamental basis for their work is Strong Towns.  Here is the Strong Towns Facebook page.

The mission of Strong Towns is to support a model for growth that allows America's towns to become financially strong and resilient. The American approach to growth is causing economic stagnation and decline along with land use practices that force a dependency on public subsidies. The inefficiencies of the current approach have left American towns financially insolvent, unable to pay even the maintenance costs of their basic infrastructure. A new approach that accounts for the full cost of growth is needed to make our towns strong again. 

It should be noted that this blog will not be agreeing with every view put out by the organizations that it features.  This is likely to be especially true of Strong Towns.  However, I do respect their basic approach to make communities economically sustainable as much as I respect those organizations that seek to make them environmentally sustainable.  The paradigm shift being sought is bringing those two concepts together into a viable whole.

I am going to leave this survey of Placemaking resources with another organization that is thinking outside of the box.  The Guggenheim is not a box in any sense of the word and their BMW Guggenheim Lab pushes the concept of Place and what it means to communities through onsite experimentation.

The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a mobile laboratory that will travel to nine major cities worldwide over six years. Part urban think tank, part community center and public gathering space, the BMW Guggenheim Lab is conceived to engage public discourse in cities around the world and through the BMW Guggenheim Lab website and online social communities.

While many communities will find it difficult and may not be willing to implement the ideas created during this ongoing placemaking experiment, the may also take inspiration in the creative endeavor to find new ways of making our communities more livable.  One readily available resource provided by the BMW Guggenheim Lab is Urbonology, an online survey to help determine the type of community one wants to build.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Visiting Innovatitown and Parochialville

This blog is directed toward the individual citizen of a community who has decided they want to see some fundamental changes in their community and is seeking resources to bring that about. It is being designed for someone who sees themselves as being a producer of democratic governance and the tangible public policies that come from that and not merely a consumer of those policies.

There is admittedly a good deal of idealism inherent in this idea at a number of levels. Some is a basic idealism that we all hold about the best that we expect from our democracy, though we all too often find ourselves disappointed. Part of that disappointment though arises from the socially ingrained expectation we have for what we could do. The other part of the idealism is the endeavor to reach a utopian future. Again, it is a goal that will in truth never be reached but that is not sufficient reason not to make it a goal. To the contrary, the very fact that it is beyond ourselves is what makes it possible to be a transformational pathways to a set of new community paradigms.

In exploring the relationship of the individual citizen to the idealistic future state of local government compared to the grittier, practical reality of today, we have to be careful how we characterize that relationship. In most cases, when speaking of a potentially improved future or some example of bureaucratic wrongdoing, we are speaking in abstract terms. This is by necessity because we want to find principles that we can apply to the degree we see appropriate across a broad range of circumstances.

So that means that we are dealing with two abstract communities. One in the future that I will start to call Innovatitown and another which is stuck in the past that I will call Parochialville. Nobody actually lives in either of these communities, but everyone can likely say that some aspect of their community is closer to one than the other. In most cases, I will be speaking favorably of Innovatitown but on occasion I will make a case for caution when adopting a technological approach to community building.

I have already taken such a stand with the previous blog post. This blog will continue on a similar vein.  Technology on its own will not allow governance by community members rather that it has the potential to facilitate governance by community members. This concept and the relationship of the individual to the local City Hall will be explored further in a future blog post.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Run the technology; don't let the technology run you

In the last post of this blog which explored the EIU's look at complexity from a public organization perspective,  the question was asked as to whether technical solutions are really fostering inclusion effectively? How using technological solutions to tackle complexity works for community-based governance as opposed to businesses.  For many businesses focusing on technology in itself is not seen as one of the major sources of complexity.  This may not be as true for community governance.  The challenge is finding the proper role for technology and optimizing its use to the greatest extent.

It would be a mistake to focus primarily on technological solutions. This usually means letting the technology do the work for you, similar to using the TV to indiscriminately babysit your two year old.

Technology as an end in itself is a wasted investment same as would be an economic development strategic plan being used as an end in itself. These are tools that should help in accomplishing other objectives or goals chosen by the community.

Part of this as to do with the citizen being considered only as a customer as seen by the so-called New Public Management. This sets, I believe, limits to participation in the democratic process. A basic premise of this blog is that people need to see themselves as both the consumer and producer of democracy, as well as the results of those efforts, in their lives.

Technology can help organizations to thrive in complex environments. It is the organization itself that must be prepared to seek opportunities for adaptation and creativity. For this to happen effectively, the social innovation and business process innovations of the organization are as important as the technological innovations, if not more so. Too great of a dependency on technology can distract from the internal changes needed for social innovation or business process innovations to be put in place.

This calls for a different type of relationship between citizens and their government. It is the interaction between the individual and the complex organization of a government institution within the complex system of a community. I am putting aside for now any questions regarding complications that may arise from the politics or bureaucracy of an organization.

It is the governmental organization that gives a structured though malleable framework within which integral parts of that organization work.

The individual citizens are not an integral part of that government organization. They do not have a structured framework and therefore must depend upon what they are given.

Technology on its own does not necessarily help to open up complex systems for individuals, making them more understandable and clarifying avenues for success. It can sometimes do the opposite depending on the manner in which it is used.

For one, it does not always provide the constituent with optimal access. Second, if the constituent is able to use technology without being directly and openly integrated, it is often confrontational. The climate change debate is a good example, a complex problem with simple answers or denial coming from so many. The reality of complexity is that it can be varnished over and people can potentially be spoon-fed or become disenfranchised and go elsewhere to look for easy answers.

Now this is not the case with the majority of public agencies employees and officials but even in the best of circumstances there is often a unilateral control of information under government when it provides avenues for participation.

Addressing the needs of multiple organizations within a community with different goals adds to the challenge of complexity. Governmental institutions should not hand over their decision-making authority to any particular public group within a community outside of the democratic process. Engaging in dialogue with groups of citizens at critical junctures in the policy process does make a significant difference to decision-making is challenging and part of that challenge is recognizing the complexity faced by the individual citizen.

It is the people making up these organizational systems, both in government and within the larger community, that enable these changes to happen when they are provided the opportunity to vision or dream together about different ways of being or doing things with each other and the organization. In other words, they help redefine the organization and in so doing redefine their role in the organization.

The question is how we accomplish that and to what extent we can use technology to do so? It is a multilevel question. Is it possible to provide community groups the same leverage in dealing with complexity that the professionals who "sell" the programs and projects of city hall have? Exploring this further will be one of the goals of this blog.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why is this so hard? It's complicated and it's complex but that's OK

The Economic Intelligence Unit, which did the research on Liveable cities | BUSINESS RESEARCH for the Philips Company, also did research on complexity in the business world (featured here at the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki) focusing on the shift businesses are going through on a global basis, transitioning from the industrial age to the information age. This is seen as a change evolving from being formal structured bureaucratic rule bound organizations based on policies and processes to ones more based on a networks of collaboration among individuals. The key word is transformation in terms of cause but the key result is complexity.  It was the conclusion of the Economic Intelligence Unit that this is one of the major challenges for businesses in the twenty-first century.

Can the same be said of public institutions and if so are they up to the challenge? People are more likely to think of government as being more bureaucratic than business, but there may not be an internal recognition by government institutions for the need to change which means that without outside influence it will never come. With businesses it comes down to adapting to ensure a chance to survive, for local governments it may come down to maintaining the politically convenient status quo and an opportunity for needed change that is ignored.

This challenge can also apply to community-based governance by members of the community. This is the biggest challenge to an effort to create new community paradigms for a community.  The members of the community will either depend upon information which is feed to them by City Hall and interact through a process that is largely defined by City Hall or it will develop its own resources and uses its influence to guide City Hall.

There has been an unstated assumption throughout the posts of this blog that City Hall has failed to adequately address the need for an economically and environmentally sustainable and livable community. That is obviously not going to be true for all cities and the degree to which it is will be different from city to city.  In some cases the effort will find a willing partner and the collaboration will create a new more expansive form of community governance.  In other cases there will be push back from the incumbent institutional government.  The key issue is whether City Hall truly represents the community as a whole or only special interests or privileged key community members.  If it is the later, then there are pathways that can be taken to weaken and subsequently disrupt that control in a sustained and innovative manner.   These will be explored in the future.

In deciding to form one's own community paradigms, it is very important to keep in mind that complexity is different than complicated. Transversing government institutions themselves will be complicated but the issues they deal with are instead complex.  Embracing complexity as a pathway to new community paradigms can lead to an actual greater simplicity in dealing with the community challenges. This aspect of community paradigms will need to be revisited but for now here is a short TED video by Eric Berlow: How complexity leads to simplicity.




Community groups organized around a principle of community paradigms have some advantages over entrenched incumbent city governments.  The move to globally networked connections is easier for individuals working in community groups than for governments. This still leaves though a number of questions that will need to be addressed.

Do our existing political organizational structures bring an increased level of complexity for community members who have to navigate them to the same degree as what the report spoke to for businesses? According to the report, a majority of firms have an inherent organizational structure that may be adding to the complexity faced by the organization. If the same is true for our governmental institutions or the political processes supporting those institutions, how is this to be addressed?

Of particular significance, the report says that the challenges of complexity cannot be addressed from a top down approach for businesses, calling for the empowerment of employees. How much more applicable is this then to the empowerment of citizens centered on a common communal task or community principle through a process of direct deliberative democracy?

The report recognizes that the single biggest cause of business complexity is greater expectation by the customer. This also applies to the public sector as people often see themselves as consumers of government service rather than having any meaningful role in its planning or policy determination. This blog takes and encourages an alternative perspective.

So far this blog has had three posts to talk about community paradigms and creating livable cities and it has only touched the surface of these issues. Ok, we are talking about creating communities or more to the point finding ways of changing the paradigms that define our communities. We are talking about what we want our communities to provide us including a proactively healthy place to live and not one that just doesn't kill us too quickly. We also talked about how economics will play a significant role in defining how we bring this about.  All of this means talking about how we change our current form of local community governance.

We alluded to other components of creating new community paradigms though we didn't speak about them explicitly. One is the role of usually non-governmental or quasi-governmental organizations that work to redefine one aspect or another towards creating community paradigms. A number of these are currently listed in the right hand column of this blog under PARTICIPATION, PLANNING & POLICY. These will be replaced over time by the new Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki.

These are resources that can be utilized in creating new community paradigms. We have also featured online tools that can be used to create change. One example was Healthy City at www.healthycity.org, another was the Vimeo video which explained How to use Healthy City California. These components work together as these organizations are accessible online and are the ones who created the community based tools that can be used by anyone willing to put in the effort. A number of other online community-based tools are listed on the right hand column of this blog under TECHTOOLS FOR GOVERNANCE.

Another important question is whether these technical solutions are really fostering community inclusion effectively? Businesses are focusing on technological solutions to tackle complexity but for businesses though technology in itself is not seen as one of the major sources of complexity. How this works for community-based governance still needs to be explored more fully. This leaves us with the still pressing question that will be the continuing focus of this blog. In a complex world where and how do we find opportunities to create value as and for our communities?

Collaborating to Create Healthy Cities

This is third of the first three posts of this new blog. Its mission as stated below the masthead is to help others in defining new community paradigms for themselves. "Paradigms" is one of those words not used much in everyday conversation. Here, the objective is to find means of expanding beyond everyday thinking and discovering new ways of creating our communities. That is going to take some time. It will not be accomplished in a few posts. In this post, we are still digging deeper and finding new avenues for creating new community paradigms.

In the first post, A Beginning: Working to create Liveable Cities through Liveanomics | EIU BUSINESS RESEARCH I wrote about some government staff, consultants and officials being able to quickly get to "no". It was a caution, not a guiding principle. Local government should be the focal point of inclusion in the process to achieve the best results. Sometimes local government needs help to get away from the "no" to finding new solutions, sometimes it needs a kick in the pants. First though try finding with whom you can work and ways of getting to "yes".

I do not write about any particular city for which I worked directly or had dealings with to avoid any conflicts, but I know from my own experience that if as a government worker you have a knowledgeable, dedicated, independent and engaged community group which with to work it makes the job all the more meaningful.

I raise this point because, in the last post, Healthy Cities make for Livable Communities we began discussing what a Healthy City is and gave an example of one community building tool that was not government based but created by an organization dedicated to civil rights. This type of outside influence will remain an important source of the creation of new community paradigms but far more can be done if the local government is on your side. To build a livable city through the use of Healthy Cities type programs is best done with local government playing a major role.

Better yet would be if you as the community members saw yourselves as an active component of the local government and fully understand that this means more than just being the consumers of government but its producers as well. Whatever approach is taken working from the inside or the outside, a guiding principle for making this work as a community is taking a collaborative approach to addressing important issues.

What are the collaborative methods governments can use to incorporate the concepts of Healthy Cities into their planning and decision-making process? This goes beyond the currently prevalent focus of city governments on environmental concerns. It requires recognizing that there is a definite need for action as the statistics on chronic disease become ever more alarming. It argues that both the planning and health professions need to come together in a substantive way to deal with creating healthier, age-friendly communities. This will be a challenge to both our planning systems and health approach in fundamental ways. The objective of this effort is to pioneer a new interface between health and planning.

In the previous post, we talked about the World Health Organization's (WHO) definition of what is meant by a Healthy City. WHO also has a global healthy cities project.

The Healthy Cities movement promotes comprehensive and systematic policy and planning for health and emphasizes
  • the need to address inequality in health and urban poverty
  • the needs of vulnerable groups
  • participatory governance
  • the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.

This is not about the health sector only. It includes health considerations in economic, regeneration and urban development efforts.

As stated before, these are factors that all communities can aspire to around the world. What is need are tools to implement these goals. One tool is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), which as defined by WHO is a means of assessing the health impacts of policies, plans and projects in diverse economic sectors using quantitative, qualitative and participatory techniques.

Health Impact Assessment is similarly defined by the United States CDC Health impact assessment (HIA) is commonly defined as “a combination of procedures, methods, and tools by which a policy, program, or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population” (1999 Gothenburg consensus statement, http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/environmental-health/health-impact-assessment).

This definition of HIA is related directly to the WHO definition and demonstrates a global network of cooperation to which communities starting to build their own systems can tap into. Local issues for example transportation can use national studies such as CDC's policy statement on transportation and health.

In the State of Kansas, they used a Community Toolbox, a public service of the University of Kansas, to create HIAs as a way of connecting health impacts to the community from development projects.

Some communities approach to establishing healthy living in the built environment goes beyond a Health Impact Assessment exercise which means being even more proactive than reactive. Some communities in California are now including a Health and Wellness Elements in the General Plans required by California State law.

The city of Richmond, California was one of the first cities in the United States to develop a comprehensive general plan element that addressed the link between public health and community design. A full profile on this effort is available from the Prevention Institute of Oakland, CA and more information can be found at the Healthy Cities blog.

An initial step in the process is to form a community-based Health and Wellness Advisory Committee that helps scope and direct the nature of the element. It is important to conduct several community meetings to ensure the element is responding to the needs and concerns of each individual community.

The experience of many who of have done this before demonstrates that these types of programs are more effective when worked through with both professionals and stakeholders who then understand the rationale of the underlying concepts and are better able to apply them.

The City of El Monte, California, with support and coordination with the PLACE Program out of Los Angeles County's Public Health Department, was able to create a thorough approach to achieving a healthy community.

The work does not stop there, though, there is a continuing need to measure and assess. The City of San Francisco has available the Healthy Development Measurement Tool, a tool to guide Health Impact Assessments for development projects. GP RED from Lafayette, Colorado is continuing to develop a "Healthy Communities Surveillance and Management Toolkit (pdf) that can help communities go through a process of convening and engaging the community, staff, and stakeholders to create a warrant for agency action, conduct an inventory and assessment (similar to an HIA but targeted), project outcomes, create an action plan, and again, continue conducting monitorings and evaluations.

These are only some examples out there that community groups interested in creating their own new community paradigms can tap into. Each can be studied more in depth. While it is obvious that this is not something that one can do alone, it should also be obvious that one does not need to. There are help and resources available out there.  These resources and more are being made available on the Healthy Cities wiki page under Livable Communities of the New Community Paradigms Wiki.

Healthy Cities make for Livable Communities

As promised in the previous post, this post will drill down into one of the components of livable communities and better define is what is a Healthy City? Professor Jan Gehl spoke about Healthy Cities in his closing keynote "Cities for People" featured in the previous post.

While this blog is based in the San Gabriel Valley of California, it is committed to looking beyond that for inspiration. The World Health Organization provides a global setting for a Healthy City.

A healthy city is one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.

In this aspect different parts of the world want the same thing, all of us want to live in a Healthy City. The question is how to bring that about for our own communities. There are a number of pathways available.

One resource available in our local area is Healthy City at www.healthycity.org an information + action resource that unites community voices, rigorous research and innovative technologies to solve the root causes of social inequity. The first of its kind in the country, our team consists of authorities in public policy, research, technology and data analysis. We provide actionable information such as data, maps, and service referrals through our easy-to-use online platform. Healthy City also partners directly with organizations to develop targeted strategies that fuel social change. Here is a link to a short video explanation of what Healthy City is about. A longer and more in depth webinar is available here HealthyCity Introductory Webinar (wiki page/heads up video starts up right away)

This blog will also be featuring other online resources for creating new community paradigms. Here is one on How to use Healthy City California from Cassidy Friedman on Vimeo which was designed to help San Franciscans see how Healthy City can be used to research trends in their community. Healthy City is also featured on the Economic Development in San Gabriel Valley + World Facebook page.

This still leaves the question as to how did HealthyCity.org come about? In this particular case it was not a governmental entity that created the HealthyCity initiative. The people behind it are the Advancement Project. A public policy change organization rooted in the civil rights movement. More on them here - Who We Are | Advancement Project California. So it is possible to create something without government, though they should be made a partner if possible. All of these resources and more are being made available on the Healthy City wiki page under Livable Communities of the New Community Paradigms Wiki.

This post provides resources showing what is possible if you make use of web based tools to help you make your community healthy and in turn more livable.  It demonstrates how people have taken steps to implement these resources in their own community. It also though raises a number of issues. Where do you find programs to help with this effort? What other organizations are out there to help? What other issues are there to be concerned with besides economics discussed in the first post and health discussed in this one? Does local government have any programs for Health Cities? Most importantly, the question as to how to start on the path of creating a new community paradigm has not really been addressed.

The last question will take the most time for this blog, but the second to last, " Does local government have any programs for Health Cities?"  will be the topic of the next post.

A Beginning: Working to create Liveable Cities through Liveanomics | EIU BUSINESS RESEARCH

In beginning to try to define new paradigms for our communities, we need some idea as to what it is that we are attempting to create.

On the surface that is not that hard. We all want the same basic things at a minimum - to have enough food to eat, to be free from disease, to be able to educate our children. There are other goals that many would add to this list as being as essential, such as ensuring a healthy environment in which to live, access to maternal care and other health providers. Markets that provide for the products we seek without exploiting others or the environment. Then we want to be able to improve our lives beyond that minimum standard.

It seems straight forward enough but what this basically comes down to is trying to create what are being called "livable communities". It is a term that calls for a new word in the English language. It would be the opposite of oxymoron which is two words that don't logically seem to go together like jumbo shrimp. Livable communities seems absurdly obvious and even redundant, of course all communities should be livable, all our communities are livable, we have lived here for decades.  Yet, in many ways our communities are not livable in the fullest sense.

For the professionals in the field this approach may seem naively simplistic, even paternalistic but this blog is not geared toward them. It is targeted toward someone without experience and only minimal knowledge of economic or community development. Someone who is just getting the notion that they could make make a better and more fully livable community and wants to start taking the necessary steps to do so.

To talk about creating livable communities from a grassroots level we need to go further in our definition. One online definition says that livable communities are:

Communities that provide and promote civic engagement and a sense of place through safe, sustainable choices for a variety of elements that include housing, transportation, education, cultural diversity and enrichment and recreation. www.walklive.org/

This definition includes a number of different aspects, housing, transportation, etc. It is not that different from the same list of basic minimum things we all want in life mentioned above. Clearly, creating something such as this is not something anyone can do by themselves. There will be a need for professionals in these fields. There will need to have government officials involved in some capacity as well. Most importantly, there will be a need for other people who are also willing to be educated and to work toward this.

It is the last group that is the most important. Professionals and politicians can sometimes be a hinderance in creating livable communities because it is far easier for them to get to the no as in 'no, we can't afford it' or 'no, we never did it that way'.

As was said, creating a livable community means bringing together a number of elements but all of them have an economic component to them in common. Despite my last statement concerning professionals and the word no, I will be emphasizing the economics component of my economic development background on these pages. In the world we face after the financial mess created in the first part of this century, it will be the economic challenges that will be the most daunting in trying to create livable communities.

This particular post examines the work done through a partnership between the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Economist Group (publishers of the Economist) and the Philips Company.

It provides a good survey of the challenges and means of overcoming those challenges when taking on this endeavor. Although it is from Europe with an English slant in accents (also explaining the different spellings) it still contains valuable lessons. There are two reports with links provided below that are rich in information. The first deals with what people want from livable communities, the second, titled "Liveanomics" explores more closely the economic aspects that need to be considered. I will be breaking this issues down into smaller components in the future.

Both reports offer key findings, case study and multimedia for further study. I am also making links to the videos and other resources provided under the Liveanomics report readily available at a new wiki appropriately named New Community Paradigms Wiki under Livable Communities at the "Liveanomics" EIU Livable Cities Studies wiki page.

Making cities work: Delivering results in a downturn A panel discussion at the Economist Conferences event, "Creating tomorrow's liveable cities", which was held in London in January 2011.

Ideas to revolutionise urban living A panel discussion featuring Sir Jeremy Beecham, Former Chairman, LGA and Labour Member, House of Lords; Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association; Rogier van der Heide, chief design officer at Philips Lighting; and Nancy Holman, director of planning studies at the London School of Economics.

Eric Pickles: A vision for the future of UK cities The keynote address at the Economist Conferences event,"Creating Tomorrow's Liveable Cities", held in London in January 2011, by Eric Pickles, Britain's Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Jan Gehl: Cities for people (wiki page) The closing keynote at the Economist Conferences Event, "Creating tomorrow's liveable cities", presented by Professor Jan Gehl, founding partner of Gehl Architects, Copenhagen.

This video provides a good deal of information on the benefits bicycling and walking have on a livable community when integrated into the community landscape.

Urban liveability and economic growth Iain Scott, editor of the report, discusses the findings of the Economist Intelligence Unit's research with Mark Kleinman, assistant director of economic and business policy and Greater London Authority. The discussion took place at an Economist Conferences event, "Creating tomorrow's liveable cities", in London in January 2011.

Defining a new direction hoping to create new paradigms

This was the beginning of the Pathways to New Community Paradigms.  Because I lost all of the posts so far I am republishing them.

I have been slowly putting this blog together in my free time. It is about time that I defined what I intend to try and do here. The remainder of this post will become a permanent feature below the masthead defining its mission.  This blog is intended to help others in a quest to define what is being called here "new community paradigms" for themselves and others with whom they live.

Paradigms, according to the first definition of the Free Merriam-Webster are patterns, especially outstandingly clear ones. Patterns, however, are usually thought of as static and this blog is seeking a dynamic definition. The word community means that these paradigms will not start out clear. Their definition will be created through multiple sources and voices.

A University of Arizona course on methods and approaches for studying the future sees paradigms from the following perspective.

"Paradigms can be thought of as the framework that has unwritten rules but directs actions. There are several definitions below and some links to varying perspectives or applications of paradigms. When one paradigm looses influence and another takes over, there is a paradigm shift. Knowing in advance how a paradigm shift might occur gives you an advantage over others."

This site will seek to help write the rules so that the new paradigm can be chosen rather than imposed. It will also try to help keep others from taking advantage. Finally it will endeavor to help in defining a new and hopefully better future.

Past Posts