Regional/Greater Community Development News – July 30, 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
The Milwaukee and Gary mayors had their eye on regional issues—and hope for a new economy based on a Chicago-centered megalopolis, linked by state of the art transportation, that can compete with the Silicon Valley on tech development and the East and West Coasts on tourism.
“I think it’s time that we as a region promote America’s ‘Fresh Coast,’ said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “We have allowed outsiders to define us as the Rust Belt.”
Milwaukee officials have been touting “Fresh Coast” as a fresh alternative to “ Rust Belt” or the more common watery moniker “Third Coast,” and while neither Chicago nor Gary have embraced that term, officials from both cities have expressed interest in collaboration.
“The need is so great in our respective communities because we’ve been devastated by the recession and many aspects of our local economy,” said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
… The Metropolitan Planning Council organized today’s mayoral gathering, titled “The Cities That Work,” on the heels of a review of regional cooperation that MPC President Barrett described as “blistering.”
The review, conducted by the international Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, found that governments in “the Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area” could do much more to coordinate transportation, innovation, workforce training and sustainable development.
And the smaller cities are eager to respond.
“We want partners,” said Milwaukee Mayor Barrett. “We’d love to have Gary as a partner, we’d love to have Chicago as a partner.”
But 29 minutes into the 30-minute meeting final word came that Emanuel, who had been expected to join the meeting in progress, would not be able to make it.
When voters go to the polls…they will have the opportunity to invest in our roads, bridges and transit systems, strengthen our economy and create a better quality of life for everyone in metropolitan Atlanta. We must tackle our transportation issues now and vote “yes” to make a difference in the lives of citizens across the metropolitan region. We must ask ourselves: Do we really just want to get by with a transportation system that becomes more outdated and congested every day? Or do we want our family members and friends to spend less time in traffic and more time together?
The leaders of cities such as Dallas, Tampa, Charlotte and Orlando use our traffic problems and our perceived inability to work together to solve them as a tool to dissuade potential businesses and industries from moving here. The metropolitan Atlanta region has lost more than 200,000 jobs between 2007 and today, with more than 80,000 jobs in the construction industry alone. If we don’t address this issue right now, we’re going to pay an even greater cost in the future for our failure to act in terms of the jobs we lose and the negative impact on our quality of life. We cannot let naysayers who do not offer other viable solutions prevent us from creating real transportation options that we can implement right away.
For months, 21 elected officials put aside partisan politics to develop a $6.14 billion transportation project list that reflects the needs and wants of local leaders representing the 10-county metropolitan area. …
TVA's top economic developer said Thursday that regionalism will provide the Chattanooga area more product to sell to business prospects.
"That's the key. If you've got product, you've got something to sell," said John Bradley, TVA's senior vice president for economic development, who took part in a panel discussion on regionalism.
Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development, told Chattanooga Rotarians that his biggest fear is that the region sits on its past success.
"My biggest concern is complacency -- that as a community we get fat and happy," he said.
Wood said the area needs to continue to focus on growth. He cited efforts to fashion a 40-year growth plan that are getting under way for the 16-county area around Chattanooga covering Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
Georgia State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, said the plan has to be "all-inclusive" so it benefits everyone in the region. …
… the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted 8-7 against providing $4 million in regional transit funds to cover the $9 million cost to SF Muni to provide free service for youth for 22 months. All of San Francisco’s representatives backed the proposal, which failed due to opposition from suburban-oriented East Bay members. The vote mirrors votes by other regional transit agencies like BART, where San Francisco interests are routinely outvoted by the East Bay’s pro-parking lot majority. Many bemoan the Bay Area’s many independent transit agencies, but regional bodies have poorly served public transit. And from Free Muni to once vaunted “regional” plans to end homelessness, such entities diminish San Francisco’s clout and weaken progressive agendas.
Regional “Solutions” to Homelessness
It's not just in transit where regional bodies do not work.
When homelessness became a major Bay Area problem in the 1980’s, there soon was an insistence that a “regional” solution was necessary. The goal was to encourage all Bay Area cities to provide housing, shelter or services, rather than imposing a disproportionate burden on Berkeley, San Francisco and other more progressive cities.
Foundations threw money at this “regional solution” goal, which always had one insurmountable obstacle: there was no regional entity that could compel Walnut Creek, Daly City or San Rafael to do its fair share. …
Progressives need less regional government, not more. I expect San Francisco’s youth activists to eventually turn the tide on free MUNI, but as long as we have regional bodies prioritizing pork barrel projects like the BART connector over improving public transit within cities, such entities should be recognized as obstacles to social justice. …
As the worst drought since 2002 shines a spotlight on the water challenges facing the Colorado River Basin, a group of leading advocacy organizations is launching a new campaign to urge the region’s urban communities to do their part to put the Basin on a sustainable path. Launching this week, the campaign is asking communities from Colorado to Utah to Nevada to Arizona to take the “90 by 20” pledge and commit to using water in smarter, more efficient ways.
Specifically, the 90 by 20 campaign is calling on communities in the region to commit to achieving residential water usage rates of 90 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) by 2020. … this is a level within reach for nearly every major water utility in the region. …
… Western Resource Advocates. “If we’re going to restore balance to the region’s water resources, everyone needs to work together and reach for a common goal. …” Gallons Per Capita Per Day is a common water usage metric used by utilities.…
The Community Foundation of Lorain County has committed $120,000 to a regional economic development plan.
The Fund for Our Economic Future will receive the money over a three-year period.
It is the third contribution from the foundation to the Cleveland-based fund, which has a mission to promote programs that increase jobs, elevate incomes and reduce poverty across northern Ohio, according to
The regional fund has paid for projects that spur economic development and help local governments operate more efficiently, said…communications officer for the Lorain County Foundation.
“Our board of directors feels very strongly that this is an opportunity for Lorain County to play a part in a regional economic development initiative,” she said.
The Community Foundation of Lorain County has been involved with the regional effort since its inception and foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Frederick is vice chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future, …
The Regional Center for Animal Control and Protection saw its intake of animals go down by 7,000 this past fiscal year compared to the last, the facility's advisory board found out this afternoon.
Some board members speculated that could be a sign that the economy may be improving; a positive indication that more people are holding onto their pets.
Others wondered if it's a sign more people are simply scared to drop off their animals at the regional center for fear of what might happen to them.
The regional center paid the Roanoke Valley SPCA's veterinarian more than $16,000 last fiscal year for treatment of sick or injured animals…four times over the $4,000 allotted budget.
Staff reported to the board there was significant improvement in the facility's "live release rate," up 20 percent for dogs and 18 percent for cats compared to the last fiscal year.
There's also a new liasion between upset pound volunteers, staff at the regional center, and the four localities using it. …
Central Virginians with differing abilities are going to work, whipping up gourmet meals in a new catering business at Region Ten Community Service Board. The agency provides services to people dealing with mental health, intellectual disability, and substance abuse.
Paul Baden is finding his recipe for success through kitchen therapy at Region Ten. He's training to become a chef. …
Baden is one of six employees in the new catering service program called Decidedly Delicious. It was established by seed money from Region Ten's Power of Ten fundraising efforts.
… Baden has a new ambition to take the skills he learned in the catering kitchen to study culinary arts at Piedmont Virginia Community College. …
A grant from the Dave Matthews Band's Bama Works Fund is allowing Region Ten to buy a food truck to take their catering services on the road. That truck should arrive in the next few weeks.
As Spain seems to have wiped anyone else away from eurozone crisis-related headlines, we have published a new briefing looking at how the Spanish crisis could evolve in the near future – focusing our attention on the role of the regions and potential bailout scenarios.
…we have repeatedly stressed the risks involved in Madrid being unable to rein in spending at the regional level (see here and here, for instance). In our new briefing, we argue that, at the end of the day, the regions alone will not make or break Spain financially (more likely, it will be the banking sector, a risk which we also highlighted at length). In fact, if they continue to rely on the central government for funding, this could increase Spain's financing needs for this year by an extra €20bn - not pocket change, but still around only 2% of the country's GDP.
…we believe regional problems combined with banking sector issues and other pressures could ultimately push Spain into a fully-fledged bailout. …
Ten Central African countries…initiative that will help them set up national forest monitoring systems and strengthen cooperation among nations in the region, …
The initiative targets the forests of Africa’s Congo Basin…one of the world’s largest primary rainforests, …region’s forests also support the livelihoods of some 60 million people.
…initiative…will help protect these forests from direct threats such as land-use change and unsustainable logging and mining, and will provide up-to-date and accurate information on the current state of forests that will help countries manage and prevent forest degradation activities.
…Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC)…UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)… collaboration with the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
“Learning from Brazil, the national forest monitoring system is the key element to pave the road for substantive international support to protect forests and promote sustainable forest management”…

“A National Coalition of Regions? Trading Capacity for Cash” by Bill Dodge, Regional Excellence

Regional Excellence                                                                                                  

A National Coalition of Regions?
Trading Capacity for Cash

by Bill Dodge

The 2012 Annual Conference of the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) in St. Petersburg showcased NARC’s efforts in an incredibly challenging 112th Congress. 

NARC is keeping its member regional councils up-to-date on opportunities through its eRegions newsletter, preparing timely handbooks on regional challenges ranging from poverty to solar energy, and guiding national demonstrations on new regional approaches, in collaboration with federal and other partners.  Member accomplishments are equally impressive, even as regional challenges are exploding and federal and state resources are shrinking.

            This success is not new.  NARC and  its sister national regional associations have a proud history of advocating for legislation and funding that facilitates cooperation in addressing transportation, economic development, and other regional challenges.   

However, the national regional associations have always had inadequate resources, in part, because they divide up all too few, and often underfunded, regional organizations.  Each of them tends to represent a particular type of regional organization.  NARC primarily represents regional planning agencies and councils of government;  the National Association of Development Organizations, regional economic development districts;  the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, independent regional transportation planning organizations;  the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, regional chamber of commerce directors;  and similar organizations for regional emergency preparedness, aging, and other activities. 

Moreover, as regional challenges have become more inclusive, cutting across all types of regional organizations, national regional associations are often pursuing parallel but independent strategies, further stretching their already limited resources. 

Bringing national regional associations together to pursue collective efforts is like herding javelinas.  Even when they succeed, such as in the national regional summits sponsored by NARC, resources are rarely available to follow up on even the most promising opportunities.  Addressing common needs affecting all regional organizations, such as building a collective regional capacity to foster sustainable or even equitable growth, remain ethereal will-o-de-wisps. 

Now, however, the national regional associations themselves are struggling to survive.  The rapid reduction in federal government largesse has led to the same program and staff reductions seen in local governments.  NARC is increasing membership dues just to sustain the core staff required to represent its members.

Ironically, over the past few years, federal government interest in regional cooperation has grown.  Regions are increasingly seen as the most appropriate level for bringing federal, state, and local interests together to effectively address  common challenges, such as emergency preparedness and sustainable communities.  This interest helped fund NARC’s recent accomplishments.  The federal interest prevails; however, federal funding is disappearing.

            Maybe it’s time to reconsider the way regional interests are represented in federal and state governments.  For example, national regional associations should consider conducting joint efforts, such as having a single Washington-based legislative conference.  Such joint activities would also facilitate preparing a common national regional agenda to advance with the U. S. Congress and other regional supporters. 

Preparing a national regional agenda itself would also benefit from joint efforts.  Coincidentally, NARC just created a new Center for Regional Research to explore regional challenges.  The Center could help develop partnerships between national regional associations and academic and other research institutions to examine potential topics and proffer practical actions for such an agenda.  The federal government, along with national foundations, could target their shrinking resources on these collaborative efforts. 

If any of these joint efforts are to succeed, individual members of national regional associations need to take the lead.  They pay the dues and dictate the associations’ agendas.  Cities and counties have wrestled with similar challenges, and used the power of the purse to assure that their representation in Washington and state capitals is coordinated and has as much substantive rigor and political clout as possible. 

Individual members also need to help negotiate the intergovernmental deals required to make regions work.  Given that federal and state governments will have inadequate resources to fund future regional initiatives, they need to be persuaded to empower regions to address the tough challenges more independently, such as by providing priority funding to regions that prepare regional charters and invest in strengthening their capacity to cooperate.  Maybe “Trading Capacity for Cash” can be the mantra for a national regional agenda. 

            These ideas are not new.  NARC also held its 2000 Annual Conference in St. Petersburg on the theme of the future of regional cooperation.  In the opening session, the panelists pretended to be in the year 2020.  I moderated that session and hobbled out on stage with a cane and wore a grey wig.  One of the panelists wore sunglasses that allowed him to review his email;  another speculated that regions had replaced states. 

The most common, and maybe promising, conclusion of panelists:  NARC had helped bring together all national regional associations, and their public interest group, foundation, academic, and other friends, in a National Coalition of Regions to collectively represent regional interests in federal and state governments.   

It’s over half way to 2020.  Google, Apple and others are already perfecting glasses that double as wearable computers.  Maybe the national regional associations could start conducting joint activities in 2012 that lay the groundwork for a National Coalition of Regions before 2020.


Bill Dodge is looking for a few good regions that are interested in designing regional charters to strengthen their capacity to take bold actions to address tough common challenges.  He is the author of Regional Excellence, and is writing a new book on regional charters.

Regional/Greater Community Development News – July 23, 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

It's been 22 years since Jacksonville has seen a mass shooting like the one in Colorado on Friday.
"If we got a situation where there is a shooter, then law enforcement is in charge, as we want them to be," Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Marty Senterfitt said. "They understand our needs. There are plans not only in the Fire Department, but with law enforcement on how to deal with that, how to get the quickest medical care to the victims and yet still secure the shooter. We don't talk about those plans, obviously. They are very much out there, and we practice them and we know what we are going to do in that situation."
"Our officers train for such events as this, and stand ready to defend and protect," Sheriff John Rutherford said in a statement. "We are…also strengthened by our regional security task force and the intelligence gathering and sharing done in concert with many other agencies."
Those plans are not only for shootings but also for severe accidents, …
For all its sprawl and global impact, the greater London area is astonishingly efficient: A mere 34 government entities look after all the public safety, services, transportation, zoning and schools. Greater Toronto has only 28.
Paris, by contrast, ranks among the most fragmented and duplicative of the world's metro areas, presiding over 1,400 units of government in its city and suburbs.
But when it comes to overlap, unnecessary taxpayer spending and political fragmentation, the Chicago-Milwaukee metroplex is in a league of its own. The two adjoining metro regions are conjoined by common industries, highways and shoreline but splintered into a profusion of 2,155 separate entities of government.
That welter of inefficiencies and jurisdictional rivalries - with Wisconsinites proudly poaching Illinois companies and balking at joint transportation policies - undermine what otherwise could become a vibrant economic bloc with the potential to lift both regions in international rankings according to findings this year from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Southwest Regional Development Commission welcomed rural optimist Ben Winchester as a special guest speaker at its annual meeting…
Winchester is a research fellow at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality and was invited to speak to the nine-county regional association about the "brain gain" in rural Minnesota.
Winchester has been studying population trends in rural areas of the region, and he says the news is good in spite of a lot of gloom-and-doom about the death of small towns foretold by the closing of businesses, hospitals, schools and churches.
"The research base does not support the notion that if X closes the town dies," Winchester said. "Only three Minnesota towns have dissolved in the past century. It's not our fault the rural economy is restructuring due to globalization. Not every town can be a regional center."
What the data shows is…the number of people living in rural areas has been increasing in terms of absolute numbers since 1970…
OCLC, the library research and services corporation based in Dublin, Ohio, has published a report on Print Management at "Mega-scale": A Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America:
"This report explores a counterfactual scenario where local US and Canadian print book collections are consolidated into regional shared collections based on the mega-regions framework. We begin by briefly reviewing the conclusions from the Cloud-sourcing report, and then present a simple framework that organizes the landscape of print book collection consolidation models and distinguishes the basic assumptions underpinning the Cloud-sourcing report and the present report. We then introduce the mega-regions framework, and use WorldCat data to construct twelve mega-regional consolidated print book collections. Analysis of the regional collections is synthesized into a set of stylized facts describing their salient characteristics, as well as key cross-regional relationships ...
In 2011 the Washington region was the second most prosperous Metropolitan Statistical Area in the country when ranked by the average annual wage. But adjust wages for the cost of living, and the region fell to 18th place among the nation’s largest 51 largest MSAs, according to an exercise conducted by economic geographer Joel Kotkin.
Richmond lost ground, too, falling one notch to the 22nd place, while Hampton Roads fell four notches to 42nd place. Virginia, it appears, has a cost of living problem. We celebrate our relatively high incomes but tend not to ask what quality of life those wages bring us.
These findings touch upon a point that I have made off and on at Bacon’s Rebellion for many years. There is more to building prosperous societies than maximizing incomes. A balanced strategy for building more prosperous, livable and sustainable communities entails increasing incomes and restraining the cost of living.
While I agree with him on that fundamental point, it’s important to root around in the weeds to gain a more acute understanding of metropolitan dynamics. Kotkin is a big defender of the suburban status quo. …
I don't own a car. In fact, I'm among the 26 percent of America's 14- to 34-year-olds who don't even have a driver's license, a number that has increased from 21 percent in recent years.
I take transit everywhere, or walk. And I'm not alone: There are hundreds of thousands of "Millennials," as our age group is called, in metro Atlanta with commuting preferences distinctly different from our parents'. When metro leaders are considering long-range transportation planning, such as the July 31 transportation vote, they ought to keep us in mind. Because if they fail to create a metro Atlanta where there are transportation options — bus, rail, bike paths and pedestrian access as well as roads — we Millennials will take our education and skills and talents to create jobs and businesses elsewhere.
Many Baby Boomers and older Atlantans are opposing this transportation referendum because it does not do enough for them. They've forgotten, conveniently, that their parents paid taxes to build transportation system that has driven their prosperity — and it is their obligation to do the same next generations. It's as if they are stuck in time. They argue that the BeltLine is a boondoggle, oblivious that it is exactly the kind of transportation Millennials want and will demand.
John Sherman of the Fulton County Taxpayers Association recently argued that the project list has too much transit, stating again that only 5 percent of commuters in the region use transit. But Sherman seems blind to the preferences of a younger generation that will benefit most from these projects. He ignores that the average number of vehicle miles traveled by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped 23 percent between 2001 and 2009, according to the National Household Travel Survey.
Twenty-seven leaders have stepped forward as the first wave of Regional Transportation Champions today, joining the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance to give people a say on what a better transportation system means to them, and what they're willing to do to make it better.
The group's reach is broad, collectively representing over 2 million employees, students, customers, and members across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
"We need to move people and goods quickly and easily for our region to be a great place to live, work, play and invest, and yet we're decades behind in making that happen," said John Tory, Chair of CivicAction. "Everyone agrees we have a crisis on our hands. We want to give residents a way to say, 'we need a better system, and we need to find sustainable ways to pay for it'."
Campaign this fall: CivicAction, together with its Regional Transportation Champions Council, will launch a campaign this fall to kick-start a region-wide conversation. ...
Greater Vancouver is the most congested metropolitan area in Canada, and the second-most in North America behind Los Angeles, …
On average, it takes 30% longer to travel through Greater Vancouver than it should were traffic flowing freely. During evening rush hour that time grows to 65% longer, the TomTom congestion index study showed. It also said the average Vancouver driver with a 30-minute commute is delayed 83 hours per year.
But the report is heavily skewed, warned urban planner Gordon Price. Because it only takes data from people in cars, the bulk of the data comes from areas where vehicles are heavily used, such as South of the Fraser.
“It’s a good reflection of people stuck in cars who have no choice. The study shows if you build around the car, you turn into Los Angeles.
“The part of the region reflected in the TomTom study is the part that built themselves around wide arterials, freeway interchanges, parking lots, big box retail, single–use low density suburban development.”
There's a lot going on in a recent Star article about deputy Toronto Mayor Doug Holyday saying he doesn't think downtown Toronto is a good place for families to raise their children.
… article frames this as a left/right divide…
The real divide is between councillors who understand how cities work and councillors who don't - or won't.
Cities are by necessity diverse, eclectic and messy. They bring a huge number and variety of different things into close proximity, producing unpredictable combinations and novel inventions. They allow for much wider personal expression and allow distinct subcultures to form.
They thrive on tolerance - tolerance of different ideas, different values and different ways of living. The more diversity that can coexist in a city, the more opportunities there are for that city to produce new ideas.
The leaders of great cities tend to transcend narrow political orientation. Think of Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson extolling the values of bicycles and bragging about a "communist scheme" to deploy a city-wide bike share.
In his book The Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser writes extensively about what he calls “self-protecting urban innovation, cities' ability to generate the information needed to solve their own problems. …
Historic Italian cities such as Pisa and Lucca, which have been feuding since medieval times, are to be forced to coexist under cost-saving measures to slash the number of provinces in half.
Mario Monti, Italy's prime minister, hopes to shave the country's two trillion euro national debt by reducing the number of provinces from 110 to just 43, in a redrawing of the country's administrative borders.
Only provinces which have a population of at least 350,000 and a land area of 2,500 square kilometres will be spared, as the government tries to tackle Italy's bloated bureaucracy and its four overstaffed tiers of government – national, regional, provincial and local.
But the austerity-driven reform will throw together ancient towns and cities which boast different food, architecture, cultural traditions and dialects, and whose inhabitants often resent their neighbours just down the road.
"Better a corpse in the home than a Pisan at the door," goes a saying from the nearby town of Livorno.
Rival towns swap insults over the quality of their cuisine and the beauty of their women, and regional identity is often stronger than the sense of being Italian.
Extra –
What is Seven50? Seven50 (“seven counties, 50 years”) is a blueprint for growing a more prosperous, more desirable Southeast Florida during the next 50 years and beyond. The plan is being developed to help ensure socially inclusive communities, a vibrant and resilient economy, and stewardship of the fragile ecosystem in what is quickly becoming one of the world’s most important mega-regions.
Spearheaded by the South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils and the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership (SFRP), a unique collaboration of more than 200 public, private, and civic stakeholders, Seven50 is mapping the strategy for the best-possible quality of life for the more than six million residents of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.
The plan is being devised through a series of public summits, workshops, online outreach and high-impact studies led by the region’s top thinkers. ...

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