Sunday, October 21, 2007

Throughout the semester we have learned how much energy and ecology could be saved by stopping urban sprawl and growing inward. At first it was a hard concept for me to grasp because the typically American ideals seem to promote spreading out and owning land. I was skeptical about the idea of living in close proximity or sharing a wall with a neighbor and I didn't think about it as life enhancing. After visiting Eco- city Ithaca I found that co-housing isn't so “backward” or scary and I can actually see the benefits of living in co-housing communities. To understand more about what could be done in cities to promote the idea of sustainable community, growing inward and co-housing I read Building High- Performance Cities in the Apollo pamphlet and Housing and Community Development in the Toward Sustainable Communities handout.
The Housing and Community Development Chapter states that in order to have positive community development it requires good urban design, community programs, governmental policies and initiatives and physical characteristics that draw people together to promote an atmosphere of peace, security and pride. The chapter takes a holistic approach to sustainable community development because it addresses social equity, health and safety and environmental issues.
The chapter stressed the need for affordable housing especially co-housing. It listed many affordable housing programs, such as Habitat for Humanity, Urban Homesteading, Mutual Housing Associations all of which build, manage or maintain affordable co-housing.
The Build High-Performance Cities chapter gives ides on how to build high-performance cities and gives examples of what cities are doing now to create smarter growth. For example Portland Oregon has enacted a urban growth boundary. This will help limit urban sprawl and promote growth with in the city. Other ideas in the chapter are Investing and rehabilitating existing buildings instead of moving outward. Programs Don't Move Improve help reinvest funds to fix older buildings instead of constructing new ones. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is a way to decrease reliance on fossil fuels and increase public transit us.. Building housing developments by transit hubs makes pubic transit more attractive.Another way to stop urban sprawl is to charge fees directly to suburban developers for the new infrastructure costs instead of incorporating them into the city's budget and letting tax payers pick up the tab.

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