Regional/Greater Community Development News – June 11, 2012

    Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs.
Top 10 Stories
So here in town the topic of ‘Regionalism’ always breaks down quickly into to two irreconcilable camps. Those who think our hyper fragmented local government in Allegheny (one of the most fragmented in the nation by the way, if not the most fragmented in the world) is costly and inefficient and those who perceive the opposite as a movement toward one big ‘metropolitan’ government.
Both sides are wrong IMHO.  Those who say fragmented government is expensive never really look at what the expenses are of our smallest municipalities. If you have few or no cops, no professional fire department and rely on the state police or the county for much of what larger communities pay for then guess what… low cost.  They may not be effective and really are foisting costs onto other taxpayers, but they are not costly to the local taxpaer.  On the other side, there are so many ways to deal with the situation and few rise to the level of creating some ‘mega’ government that technicially has not legal basis at the moment and really is not on anyone’s agenda. But the paranoia exists. …
Ten cities & seven counties govern most of the 1.7 million people in Hampton Roads. Each has its own police, fire & public works departments.
And in the decade that ended in 2010, the region's population grew slowly, by about 6 percent.
Contrast that with the Charlotte, N.C., area, where half of the area's 1.8 million people reside in Mecklenburg County, a sprawling jurisdiction of 524 square miles that is larger than the cities of Virginia Beach & Norfolk combined.
Charlotte & Mecklenburg essentially act as one government, jointly providing everything from water service & police protection to the construction of a downtown sports arena. … Charlotte metropolitan area's population grew by 32 percent - among the fastest in the nation - from 2000 until 2010.
The message in those statistics is clear to Virginia Beach City Councilman…Davis - in order to thrive, Hampton Roads' largest cities should, where possible, begin sharing services.
"Either we truly become one region, or we will fall while the Charlottes & other cohesive regions rise," …
Regionalism seems to be the topic du jour for everything from economic development to disaster recovery to tourism. I can speak to one of those areas, economic development, and assure you taking a regional approach to industry recruiting is crucial.
I don't mean the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce just talks about working with our partners in Baldwin County and beyond, but the organization's mission and its staff walk the walk. We are 100 percent committed to regionalism rather than just pay it lip service.
It is undeniable that should a major project creating thousands of jobs locate in Baldwin County, Mobile County will reap benefits as well. In fact, I would submit that many other surrounding counties would benefit as well, including Washington, Clarke, Escambia and Choctaw. And that is not to mention the counties in neighboring states.…
To that end, the economic development efforts of Baldwin and Mobile counties should not be seen as competitive, but as cooperative. …
To the Editor:
It’s no great secret to those who have known me for a while that I am a strong supporter of regional cooperation. With ever increasing demands on resources, unreasonable state mandates, and a sluggish economy, our small towns need to do whatever they can to deliver good quality services at the lowest cost to taxpayers. …
There is potential to do more, especially in education, and especially at the high school level, where the recently adopted common core standards has the potential to dramatically increase local taxes. I applaud the regional cooperation now in place, …
However, there are barriers which restrict even greater sharing of staff and services. One of these is the current structure of the state’s ECS (Educational Cost Sharing) program, which is calculated on a town-by-town basis and discourages regional cooperation.
As a state legislator, I will support removing barriers to regional cooperation. However, I will strongly oppose forced regionalization…
SLICE: Strengthening Local Independent Co-ops Everywhere, is an annual conference and organizing project in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. The SLICE vision of an expanding cooperative economy, one that feeds its own growth while promoting ecological sustainability and social justice, has resonated inside and outside our region’s co-op sector. 
Since 2009, SLICE has engaged cooperators in the Pacific Northwest with several key related ideas:
  • Recognize the power of cooperation and the strength of the existing cooperative economy.
  • Envision and work to grow a co-op economy that meets human needs across the board.
  • Advocate a cooperative movement in which co-ops commit resources to grow the co-op economy.
  • Inspire a cooperative model in which co-ops account for their -ecological and social impacts.
Collaborating to grow a cooperative economy
SLICE is designed as a break-even project and, with the support of its collaborators, has approached that goal in its three years of operation.
The town will join forces with Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) as part of an ambitious, three-year project being led by the state’s nine regional planning commissions. Officials hope the regional effort will ultimately spur economic growth …
During…Londonderry Planning Board meeting, SNHPC President David Preece shared details of the regional planning project, made possible with the 2011 approval of a federal Sustainable Communities grant.
Londonderry planning officials will help represent SNHPC during the project, working with other planning officials from the North Country Council, Lakes Region, Upper Valley Lake Sunapee, Southwest Region, Central N.H., Nashua Regional, Rockingham and Strafford Regional planning commissions.
… SNHPC will participate in program for next three years with the goal of expanding and updating the existing regional comprehensive plan, spanning nine regions and extending long-range planning for the Granite State well into 2030.
In an effort to have New Jersey reinstated to the nation's only cap-and-trade system, two environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environment New Jersey have filed a law suit against the state's Department of Environmental Protection.
Filed in Trenton, the lawsuit claims New Jersey's Governor, Chris Christie (R), decision to withdraw the state from participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) was illegal because it was accomplished without adhering to the states' administrative laws. If it was done legally, the group argue, the public would have had an opportunity to comment on the decision.
Formed in 2007, RGGI represents the first United States' market-based system to regulate emissions. The regional cap-and-trade network, which now includes nine states along the east coast, requires heavy emitters to cap their emissions. ...
Families' median net worth fell almost 40% between 2007 and 2010, down to levels last seen in 1992, the Federal Reserve said in a report Monday.
As the U.S. economy roiled for three tumultuous years, families saw corresponding drops in their income and net wealth, according to the Fed's Survey of Consumer Finances, a detailed snapshot of household finances conducted every three years.
Median net worth of families fell to $77,300 in 2010 from $126,400 in 2007, a drop of 38.8%--the largest drop since the current survey began in 1989, Fed economists said Monday. Net worth represents the difference between a family's gross assets and its liabilities. Average net worth fell 14.7% during the same three-year period.
Much of that drop was driven by the housing market's collapse. Families whose assets were tied up more in housing saw their net worth decline by more. Among families that owned homes, their median home equity declined to $75,000 in 2010, down from $110,000 three years earlier.
Representatives of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) member countries pointed to the region's strategic significance.
They also noted opportunities for further strengthening of cooperation, during a BSEC meeting… in Belgrade.
The participants of the 26th meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the BSEC praised Serbia's chairmanship of the organization and announced that the next BSEC summit…will be co-chaired by Serbia and Turkey, which takes over the six-month rotating presidency on July 1.
Opening the meeting, Assistant Foreign Minister of Serbia Slađana Prica said that the goal of the organization was to make the Black Sea region a “region with no problems whatsoever between neighboring countries and part of the world that is prosperous and peaceful.”
Strengthening BSEC's internal structures was Serbia's chairmanship priority…stressing that it led to the strengthening of cooperation in two priority areas - environmental safety and energy. ...
Government says its ongoing reform of mining policies will need the collaborative efforts of stakeholders in the sector to achieve the targeted, strategic national vision.
“It is through a deepened partnership of stakeholders that the industry can achieve the six priority areas of poverty reduction, revenue management, local content, regional development planning, social investment, and dispute resolution,”… Minister for Lands and Natural Resources…
The government in its 2012 budget statement increased the corporate tax rate for mining companies from 25 to 35 percent, introduced an additional windfall tax of 10 percent, and established a uniform regime for capital allowance of 20 percent that is deducted over five years.
…review of mineral agreements and to redesign draft agreements to ensure that they yield maximum social and economic returns to the country.
… Approximately 100 mining & power companies from Ghana, Mali, India, China, Senegal, Canada and Australia…attending…conference
+ I joined the American Association of Geographers in 2009 on the recommendation of Sally, Regional Studies Association. Having been a planner since 1973 and involved with the American Planning Association and its predecessors all those years, I did not realize that I was also a geographer. Wikipedia has an overview of the science. The link to regional geography is included. I went to geography looking for the “perfect region.”
… Geography as a discipline can be split broadly into two main subsidiary fields: the human geography and the physical geography. The former largely focuses on the built environment and how humans create, view, manage, and influence space. The latter examines the natural environment, and how organisms, climate, soil, water, and landforms produce and interact.[9] The difference between these approaches led to a third field, the environmental geography, which combines the physical and the human geography, and looks at the interactions between the environment and humans.[7]
R/GCDNews hiatus: I will be in Beijing, China June 17 to 28 in order to attend the Regional Studies Association Global Conference 2012. The paper I am developing for presentation is entitled: “Community Motive: The Untapped Identity Factor for Regional Development” Publication should resume July 2.  Tweets and Delicious links will continue daily to the extend there is Internet access and time.
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0900 - Arctic Ocean
1000 - Europe
2000 - Africa
3000 - Atlantic Ocean
4000 - Antarctica
5000 - Americas
6000 - Pacific Ocean
7000 - Oceana
8000 - Asia
9000 - Indian Ocean

"Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype" © 

Regional/Greater Community Development News – June 4, 2012

    Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs.
Top 10 Stories

Cuyahoga County's latest efforts to promote regional cooperation are modeled after the Los Angeles area, where county government assists dozens of cities with everything from fire fighting to lifeguards.
Ohio's most populous county recently agreed to provide sewer maintenance for Shaker Heights and is talking about supplying a human resources worker for Brooklyn. And county Executive Ed FitzGerald envisions the county one day providing as many services as L.A.
"It is the only practical pathway to a significant degree of regionalism here," FitzGerald said in an interview… "And it's all by choice."
The goal, as outlined in FitzGerald's state-of-the-county address in February, is to eliminate the duplication of costly services in a county divided into 57 municipalities.
The county's menu of offerings now includes employee health insurance, phone support, sewer maintenance and employee training. At least 10 cities have ordered one or more services. But there's no limit, FitzGerald said.
…Sustainable Communities Initiative was tailor made for communities like greater Cleveland. Northeast Ohio has been sprawling for decades without adding any population, emptying out the notoriously troubled central city while the regional economy consistently under-performs.
Of course, winning a grant and mustering the political will to do some actual transformative planning are two different things. …internal struggle going on within Northeast Ohio’s Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC)…outcome could determine whether the region puts the $5 million grant to good use or wastes a rare opportunity.
Jason Segedy, NEOSCC’s chair, says he is “fighting for the soul” of the organization. The 39-year-old recently addressed the board of NEOSCC in a strongly worded email, saying that the organization was neglecting a major cause of the region’s troubles: failure to integrate land use and transportation planning decisions.
“As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, it is becoming apparent that it is time to reassess the way we have designed our urban areas for the past 60 years,” he said. “Many people today are finding themselves in a situation where they have to drive long distances whether they want to or not.”
“Our transportation system already does not work well if you don’t have a car; and if gas prices rise it will work less and less well for more and more people, including those WITH cars,” he wrote. “Virtually every person in charge of planning our transportation system and developing our land owns a car. They don’t live the reality of long tortuous three-hour bus commutes, walking through broken glass on crumbling highway shoulders (there are no sidewalks) or getting bottles thrown out of car windows at them by angry motorists [while riding a bike].”
It’s not yet clear that NEOSCC has even agreed that the revitalization of the central city and its surrounding communities is an important regional goal — although a profusion of evidence says it should be. …
The Sustainable Communities Initiative proposed by the Regional Planning Commissions in NH allows local towns to come together and develop a long term planning vision for their communities, the region and the state. Described by some as a ‘Master Plan on steroids’ it is a collaborative grassroots effort to integrate local interests, priorities and perspectives into regional plans and ultimately into a state-wide strategy.
The nine regional planning commissions in the state will work with their individual towns to gather information on their planning efforts with respect to land use, transportation, housing, economic development, environmental planning, and public health among other issues to develop a comprehensive plan for the region. It is does not diminish the individual town’s Master plan, zoning or their vision for the future. On the contrary, it would enable towns to review each other’s best practices, goals and plans and arrive at a consensus-based document. …
The Sustainable Communities Initiative is yet another advisory project which will greatly enhance and protect our rural oasis by integrating sustainable development goals and principles in our priorities for future development.
The former executive director of Volusia County's Transportation Planning Organization hasn't changed his mind on the issue he believes cost him his job: the County Council's hope for an analysis on linking SunRail to Daytona Beach International Airport.
"I see part of my job as speaking truth to power, and, sometimes, power doesn't like the truth," Welzenbach said recently after the vote. "So, I stand by my statements -- I still feel that this is not a valid pursuit. I still doubt seriously that after the analysis is done that rail will be the locally preferred option. That's my professional opinion; I didn't make it up, and I stand by it."
…Welzenbach argued, a study would recommend enhanced bus service from the airport to the West Volusia station. Votran General Manager Ken Fischer agreed with him. …
"I have attempted, in the past 12 1/2 years, not to be condescending, but to explain the convoluted, complicated and frustrating role of the MPO," Welzenbach said ...
The Green, the most iconic parcel of land in Morristown, not only is a place for people to hang out, meet up, explore and admire, it's also a traffic circle. With numerous businesses surrounding it, the Green also is an economic hub. It's not just one of these things, it's all of them.
So, why should planning for Morristown's land use future be any more separated?
That has been the thinking of town planners, who are seeking a consultant through the North Jersey Transportation Authority in order to begin "a pilot Local Planning Assistance Program to assist the Town of Morristown in development of a Unified Land Use and Mobility Plan."
This pilot initiative between a regional planning entity like the NJTPA and a local government does not exist in this part of the state. But, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has found success working with municipalties in south Jersey, Abrahmson said, helping towns with such projects as buildout studies and smartgrowth initiatives. "
If you want to make a transportation network better, you need to work with land use," he said. "They needed to go work with municipalities."
There are good reasons to consolidate.…
Follow these tips:
• Focus on value for the dollar rather than just on cost. This will help mitigate the need to continually re-consolidate.
• Understand the perspective of the "customers" of the functions being consolidated and take those into consideration in developing the consolidation approach.
• Consolidation usually involves merging two organizations into one. Consider integrating functions into a new structure rather than merging existing structures into one another. The former involves making things work more seamlessly for the customers, while the latter relies on putting two or more organizations under a single chain of command.
• Usually consolidation involves adding a level of management. Consider a process of "flattening" concurrent with the consolidation process.
But to save money and produce better results, consider these alternatives:
• Create incentives for organizations to voluntarily consolidate…
• Get organizations to follow…
…people shared ideas…on ways to promote economic development in the seven counties that are participating in the Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative.
Objectives of the initiative are to create more higher-paying jobs in the region, find better ways to market the assets of the region to promote job growth and promote local workforce development.
Steve Gilkey, a Lamar City Alderman, offered this observation about the flight of local people who become educated here, but seek jobs elsewhere.
“Our colleges should help us keep our talent here,’’ he said. …
Other ideas included ways to promote image and branding with regard to the seven-county region. One participant said, “We should market our location ourselves.’’
The process to develop a regional economic development strategy is comprised of four phases over eight months that will lead to “an actionable five-year blueprint’’ for strengthening the region’s existing assets to improve the overall quality of life in the Joplin region.
There were jokes, barbs and jabs, but mostly substantive conversation…about growing regional cooperation in metro Detroit and around the state of Michigan.
The overarching theme: Mending Detroit's bruised image and returning the area to a powerhouse of investment, educational opportunity, functioning infrastructure and a place where people want to live and play.
Called the fab five -- Detroit Mayor…Wayne…Oakland…Macomb Co. Execs & Washtenaw Co. BOS Chair…metro Detroit's political leaders gathered …
"Detroit is our global brand and we need to make sure that brand is super strong," said Smith, who isn't always invited to the table when metro Detroit is discussed.
But today, Bing offered Smith, and by extension Washtenaw County, an open invitation to conversations about regional cooperation. Patterson, on the other hand, criticized the county saying Washtenaw did not participate in most regionally taxed assets…
"…Until you pay your way in, you don't get to say how things are done."
“If Mayors Ruled the World” is premised on the notion that of the three elemental political units — empires, nations, and cities — it is cities which have existed the longest and cities which today represent the level at which “things get done.” In an age where the tenets of the nation-state system — sovereignty, independence, and nationhood — are out of synch with the nature of global problems, cities represent the more appropriate scale for finding solutions, sharing best practices, and shaping emergent norms. As Barber puts it, “Radical interdependence requires that we respond to problems through the actors that are not jurisdictionally limited by sovereignty.” Barber believes that cities tend to act more non-ideologically and pragmatically than nation-states. Cities invite the other into themselves and form a collective with them, while nations are defined by exclusion of the other.
A number of current diplomatic processes illustrate Barber’s main argument. Whereas the intergovernmental climate negotiations have yielded little result, mayors have taken aggressive steps to counter greenhouse gas emissions and their joint proposals shaped the final Copenhagen climate summit text. The same is true for the Durban sustainability summit. …
Greater Manchester is set to take control of the region’s railways – in an historic move that promises better trains, more carriages and improved services for passengers.
Transport chiefs in the region are the forefront of plans that would see power over rail services in the north of England devolved from Whitehall.
The Department for Transport would hand over responsibility for rail franchising to a new body made up of transport chiefs from each region in the north.
And supporters say that would bring major benefits to passengers in the region.
The proposals are being put together by Transport for Greater Manchester and its counterparts in south and west Yorkshire. The group will now open serious conversations with transport officials in the north east, Merseyside and Lancashire.
The change would give them the power to demand local priorities from whichever rail operator is awarded the contract to run services, including extra carriages, new trains and station revamps.

More at Delicious: Topic Stacks or Links
Daily via Twitter
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Basic Geocodes - 
0000 - Earth
0900 - Arctic Ocean
1000 - Europe
2000 - Africa
3000 - Atlantic Ocean
4000 - Antarctica
5000 - Americas
6000 - Pacific Ocean
7000 - Oceana
8000 - Asia
9000 - Indian Ocean

"Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype" ©