Competitive Communities
Building Communities for Tomorrow's Economy
Resource: San Diego' s index of regional innovation

Saturday, August 25, 2007  

San Diego Connect, a leading edge entrepreneur support organization, has released a new "index of regional innovation". The index measures how many startups have launched in the previous quarter. The index also looks at fluctuations in key technology clusters.

You can learn more about the index here. You can view a presentation on the index here.

posted by Ed Morrison | 6:51 PM
Artists and urban regeneration  

Both Detroit and Toledo are focused on improving the opportunities for artists as a leading edge to urban regeneration.

The Executive Director of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, outlines the role that artists can play in urban revitalization:

"People explore cities through the arts and what others are doing creatively. Then they start to look around and think, hey, I could live here." Learn more about what's happening in Detroit here.

In Toledo, the mayor is promoting a downtown arts district. As he noted when he introduced his plan, "Art is not only about improving the ambience of the city... he is also about economic development." Learn what Toledo is doing here.

posted by Ed Morrison | 6:24 PM
Finding Walkable Communities  

Competitive Communities understand the importance of living in walkable neighborhoods. Walkable is one of the characteristics of “smart growth”, “traditional neighborhood design”, “new urbanism”, “transit oriented development” and other similar concepts used to describe more sustainable growth. If you are curious about how walkable your neighborhood is check out
Walk Score , a rating system for walkability. Type in your address if you live in the U.S., Canada or the U.K. and a map will appear showing you what is nearby and a score from 0 to 100. Anything less than 50 is not considered walkable. This site is the inspiration of Sightline Institute , a think tank based in Seattle with a mission to bring about sustainability.

If you need convincing that walkable communities are important for a better future read the following excerpts from the Walk Score web site:

Walkable neighborhoods offer surprising benefits to our health, the environment, and our communities:

Better health: A study in Washington State found that the average resident of a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood weighs 7 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood. Residents of walkable neighborhoods drive less and suffer fewer car accidents, a leading cause of death between the ages of 15 - 45.
Reduction in greenhouse gas: Cars are a leading cause of global warming. Your feet are zero pollution transportation machines.
More transportation options: Compact neighborhoods tend to have higher population density, which leads to more public transportation options and bicycle infrastructure. Not only is taking the bus cheaper than driving, but riding a bus is ten times safer than driving a car!
Increased social capital: Walking increases social capital by promoting face-to-face interaction with your neighbors. Studies have shown that for each 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10 percent.
Stronger local businesses: Dense, walkable neighborhoods provide local businesses with the foot traffic they need to thrive. It's easier for pedestrians to shop at many stores on one trip, since they don't need to drive between destinations.”

Walkable communities tend to have the following characteristics:

A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernable center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.
Density: The neighborhood is dense enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to be cost effective.
Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other.
Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.
Accessibility: The neighborhood is accessible to everyone and has wheelchair access, plenty of benches with shade, sidewalks on all streets, etc.
Well-connected, speed controlled streets: Streets form a connected grid that improves traffic by providing many routes to any destination. Streets are narrow to control speed, and shaded by trees to protect pedestrians.
Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.
Close schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.”

Sightline has also developed a progress index, The Cascadia Scorecard that uses seven indicator trends to measure progress toward sustainability: Health, Economy, Population, Energy, Sprawl, Forests and Pollution.

If you are interested in shaping a walkable community in your neighborhood you can find additional information at Walkable Communities, Inc.

If you are interested in walkable neighborhood design examples check out MHSM neighborhood plans here.

posted by Kim | 4:22 PM