Sustainability Policies and Best Practices

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  1. Red County, Blue City Work Together on Climate Resilience

    The Greater Kansas City area is known for the state line that divides its two metropolitan parts between Kansas and Missouri. There are many other borders: county lines, city limits and political stripes.It’s the latter that makes action around climate resilience seem insurmountable at times, but a coalition has come together to develop a strategy.
  2. Reducing Speed-Related Crashes

    Speeding — exceeding a speed limit or driving too fast for conditions — is one of the most common factors in motor vehicle crashes in the United States.In this safety study, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examines causes of and trends in speeding-related passenger vehicle crashes and countermeasures to prevent these crashes.
  3. Campaign Seeks to Lower the Voting Age in Local Elections

    In most U.S. states, 16- and 17-year-old citizens are considered old enough to drive on local roads, work in local businesses, attend local schools and pay local taxes.Now a nationwide campaign is pushing to give these young people the right to vote in local elections as well.
  4. Award-Winning Speakers Headline Sustainability Conference

    DUBUQUE, Iowa – An Oscar winning filmmaker, a Peabody Award winning broadcaster and a “Champion of Change” climate and resiliency planner are set to address attendees at this year’s Growing Sustainable Communities Conference, which celebrates its 10th anniversary at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque on Oct. 3-4.Louie Psihoyos, Majora Carter and Kristin Baja will deliver the keynote and plenary addresses at the conference. Registration is open at GSCDubuque.com, and early bird rates apply through Aug. 27.
  5. Senate Bill Protects Transit, TIGER and Community Grant Programs

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bipartisan bill makes investments in infrastructure, provides funding for economic development projects and helps to meet the housing needs of the nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families.The bill reflects a total allocation of $60.06 billion in discretionary spending, $2.4 billion above the current funding levels, and $12.1 billion above the President’s request.
  6. Nashville Welcomes All Its Rowdy Friends

    Like the country music that made it famous, the city of Nashville, Tenn., has been through some changes in recent years.Just as the “Nashville sound” of Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline gradually gave way to the more raucous and glitzy contemporary country music of Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, so has the city itself gone from a quiet little town of less than 180,000 in 1960 to one of the fastest growing urban centers in the South, now with more than 650,000 people and an estimated 85 to 100 more arriving every day.
  7. The Best Complete Streets Policies

    As of the end of 2016, more than 1,000 jurisdictions in the United States have made formal commitments to streets that are safe and convenient for everyone — no matter their age, income, race, ethnicity, physical ability, or how they choose to travel — by passing a complete streets policy, according to a new report issued by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition.More communities passed these policies in 2016 than ever before.
  8. Growing Sustainable Communities Conference Slated Oct. 3-4

    DUBUQUE, Iowa – The Growing Sustainable Communities Conference celebrates its 10th anniversary at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque on Oct. 3-4.Registration is now open on the conference web site at www.GSCDubuque.com.
  9. Bitter Reaction as Trump Bails on Climate Accord

    The sustainability community erupted with nearly universal dismay, outrage and resolve in the face of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement late last week. But few were really surprised.After all, Trump was merely making good on another campaign promise, pitting his administration against the 71 percent of U.S. citizens who believe climate change is a clear and present danger, and joining only the countries of Syria and Nicaragua in defiance of the accord, which was signed by nearly 200 nations.
  10. Lean Urbanism Recalls a Simpler Time

    Over the last several decades, real estate developers and urban designers have watched building code books swell from the size of small booklets to the size of dictionaries.Some say the increase in regulations has been essential to protect life, limb and property. Others think politics, special interest groups and neglect have supplanted common sense to create a hopelessly complex array of outdated, expensive and unnecessary mandates that serve to push small developers out of the marketplace altogether.
  11. Iowa Legislature Defunds Sustainable Agriculture Research

    A bill passed by the Iowa Legislature to defund the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture now waits on the desk of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.Supporters of the 30-year-old research center at Iowa State University in Ames are hoping one of Bradstad's final acts as governor will be to veto the closure. After all, it was Bradstad himself who signed the 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act into law, providing funds to establish and maintain the Leopold Center.
  12. Trump Order Rescinds Obama Climate Initiatives

    In a sweeping executive order, U.S. President Donald Trump has reversed course on the federal government's response to climate change, rescinding numerous environmental protections implemented by the Obama administration.Trump, who has famously described scientific evidence of climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China, framed the March 28 order as actions intended to promote U.S. energy independence and economic growth.
  13. Palo Alto Embraces Its Family Tree

    If ever there was a tree that served as a metaphor for a city – consider El Palo Alto. The tree, whose name means “the tall stick” in Spanish, is a 110-foot-tall California redwood that stands on the bank of a creek near the southwest tip of San Francisco Bay, where it has stood for more than 1,000 years.While human activity in the first half of the 20th century nearly killed it, people began rallying to care for its health in the 1950s and it has since rebounded – albeit about 50 feet shorter than it once was.
  14. Trump's Budget Declares War on Sustainability

    The opening salvo of President Trump's war on sustainability was fired last week when he released his preliminary budget outline for FY2018.As promised throughout his campaign and in the early months of his administration, Trump’s first budget proposal to Congress attempts to lead the United States in a completely new direction, with a dramatic shift in national priorities.
  15. Big Data and the Internet of Things

    According to technology lore, the “Internet of Things” first came into being in the early 1980s when someone in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University connected a soda machine to the Internet so they could tell without leaving their desk whether their favorite brand of soda was still in stock and had reached the desired temperature.Since these auspicious beginnings, humankind has been adding almost every conceivable device to the global network.
  16. Inclusionary Housing Policies Attract Millennials

    In a country where housing supply is not keeping up with demand, especially for cash-strapped working families and millennials, many cities are using inclusionary zoning ordinances to make sure middle-class homebuyers aren’t left out in the cold when housing developers draw up their plans.Key to any discussion on affordable housing is the definition of “affordable” and exactly who can afford it.
  17. U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Down 11.6% Since 2007

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft report this week that indicates the nation's greenhouse gas emissions declined 2.2 percent in 2015, continuing a generally downward trend since U.S. emissions peaked in 2007.Overall, net emissions in 2015 were 11.6 percent below 2007 levels, according to the report. Except for 2012, when emissions were slightly lower, they have not been this low since 1993.
  18. Equity, Smart Growth Converge at St. Louis Conference

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. − With civil unrest after the Michael Brown shooting, legal challenges over discriminatory policing practices, and the contentious election of President Donald Trump all serving as unavoidable subplots, equity and inclusivity were reoccurring themes at the 16th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference.While Trump's name was not uttered once during the opening plenary session, his perceived threat to the core values of many in the room was palpable.
  19. Dangerous by Design: Report Advocates for Pedestrian Safety

    Between 2005 and 2014, a total of 46,149 Americans were struck and killed by cars while walking.A new report released this month by Smart Growth America and its National Complete Streets Coalition argues that street design is a leading factor in this escalating problem.
  20. Community Visioning on a Smaller Scale

    Municipal leaders and staff in large metro areas face ongoing maintenance of roads, bridges, sewers, housing, transit fleets, and other fixtures of urban life. Small towns have infrastructure and amenities to work on, too, but on a smaller scale.Some projects can be as simple as installing an attractive welcome sign at the city limits and putting a little landscaping around it.
  21. Gamifying Disaster Preparedness

    The trouble with disaster response is that decisions have to be made at the wrong time — because all times are the wrong time.Either civic leaders must act in the midst of an emergency, when damage is mounting and emotions run high, or they must make choices when there is no emergency and everything seems fine. Harvey Hill and Jason Smith, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Institute for Water Resources, describe this as “cycles of complacency and panic.”
  22. Tackling Poverty One Asset at a Time

    Generational systemic poverty doesn't just affect individuals and families. It affects entire communities. So it makes sense that individuals, families, and communities combine resources to resolve poverty, together.Two organizations in Dubuque, Iowa, are involved in an innovative national movement that engages individuals and communities to resolve poverty. One of these is the Circles Initiative, a networking model for under-resourced individuals and families to address the barriers in their lives and create a supported vision for their future.
  23. Fostering Sustainability from the Ground Up

    Sustainability starts with neighborhoods and, with the right promotion, can spread across an entire city and into the next until it becomes a regional force for positive change.Organizers of a statewide survey in Wisconsin and a neighborhood initiative in Hobart, Ind., shared their experiences and discoveries at the recent Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque. One of the biggest lessons learned:
  24. Raleigh: 21st Century City of Innovation

    “We are a 21st Century City of Innovation focusing on environmental, cultural and economic sustainability.”So proclaims the Raleigh, N.C. City Council in the leading sentence of its mission statement.
  25. Involving Citizens in Impact Assessments

    Impact assessments are typically conducted as legal requirements to identify the economic, social and environmental effects of public policy. They usually involve public meetings led by government officials in government buildings.But, what if the role of the citizen wasn’t limited to that of a spectator in these assessments? What if residents were given the opportunity to lead these discussions?
  26. Tool Improves Transportation and Health Policies

    It isn't likely that a controversial highway like the Cross Bronx Expressway could be built in America in 2016.The expressway, created by New York City planner Robert Moses in 1948 and open since 1955, is likely the shining example of how NOT to design a major transportation artery. Moses continues to be blamed for destroying the South Bronx neighborhood by putting the automobile first and ignoring vital social and public health concerns.
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