ULI (Urban Land Institute) Fall Meeting was last week in Denver. There is always such a huge array of offerings at large conferences and I am but one person but a few trends seemed to emerge from my observations and discussions with others: - Enrique Penalosa spoke of a radical re-thinking of the city and especially the suburbs. This is based on an intense introduction of open space, pedestrian-only spaces, transit, and density. He rightly suggests that the backward looking approach of New Urbanism is not equipped to deal with the opportunities and challenges of the present and future. New ideas about water, energy, biophilia, food, community, resources, transit, and culture make the traditional city need a substantial re-thinking.
- Many sessions, culiminating in the Bulder Urban Agriculture Tour in Boulder on Saturday highlighted the new opportunities to integrate agriculture directly into our cities and towns. Medians, left-over spaces, yards, and open space all become chances to bring food closer to where we live, create fresh local and affordable food and create a strong sense of community. It is a new definition of mixed use and provides a new way to think about space, place, and food. And it is the new amenity in communities: out with the golf courses, in with the gardens!!
-Health is the new gold standard of sustainability. This reminds us again that the ultimate purpose of the built environment is for people and to foster health on many levels. Current design practice and the planning of our cities can create disease especially obesity and diabetes brought about by inactivity. The best neighborhoods promote health by making movement mandatory and enjoyable - a natural part of daily living. And integrate local healthy food, And community.
Make sure you get your 10,000 steps a day. It keeps the doctor away.