Regional/Greater Community Development News – May 7, 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. More articles are at
Top 10 Stories
… Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) introduced legislation to reform the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional governance system for the first time since the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) was created in 1970. This bill would create the Bay Area Regional Commission to coordinate regional planning and policy decisions dealing with transportation, housing, air quality, sustainable community strategies, economic development, and other regional issues.
“The Bay Area needs a directly-elected regional governance agency to have accountable, transparent, and responsible decision making,” said Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord). “We need regional planning that is efficient, effective, and that looks into the future. This commission would start with developing a reorganization plan intended to reduce costs of overhead and integrate planning requirements into a comprehensive regional plan.”
…Currently, the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) coordinates the regional planning efforts …
Regionalism, from merging police departments to forging multicounty economic development agreements, is a painful exercise. Northeast Ohio is no stranger to the frustrations…
Yet pushing ahead may be the only option for major metropolitan areas.
But even the pressure of rapid economic change, much of it forced by automation and globalization, has just started to get Northeast Ohio moving in the right direction, embracing economic growth through joint efforts and long-term planning, with a large role for the public sector.
The good news is that as major institutions find common ground, they can build on each other's strengths to grow new companies and expand old ones, not compete against each other.
Still, there is no getting around the negatives…
Whether it is a state university system working to reorganize itself in more efficient and effective ways, or local governments and businesses charting a new course, the point is the same: Don't count on help from the state and federal governments.
For several months now, local governmental officials have been looking for new ways to coordinate investments and strategies in the central Upper Peninsula, in hopes of boosting the region's economic prosperity.
"When you start looking at this based on geography, we're probably, if you're thinking even on a straight line basis, the wealth of natural resources we have, the number of people we have, we're probably not, for some reason, optimizing our ability to grow the economy," said Marquette City Manager Bill Vajda. "Part of this, of course, is basic economic geography. It's available resources, it's people, it's density, part of it is how you organize it, what kind of investments are you making to help change the statistics around to try to help grow more economically."
… issue is the countless number of independent organizations in the region working independently on economic development. Other areas, including Green Bay and Ann Arbor, have one entity coordinating that work. …
In the wake of the 2008 “great recession,” the Oak Park area was facing an unprecedented housing foreclosure crisis that threatened the region economically and socially.
In 2009, Oak Park and four neighboring suburbs — Berwyn, Forest Park, Maywood and Bellwood — came together in a “sub-regional collaboration” to craft methods for addressing those challenges.
…a three-year effort by the West Cook County Housing Collaborative to stabilize housing stock in each village and plan proactively on housing and zoning issues.
…regional planning agency collaborative issued…report, “Homes for a Changing Region.”
…written by the West Cook Collaborative along with three regional agencies: the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the Metropolitan Planning Council.
The report subhead, “Implementing balanced change at the local level” reflects the need for communities with common interests and challenges to work together on solutions. …
For the first time anyone can remember, county commissioners, conservationists, energy officials and a number of user groups sat down last week at one table, in one room, to discuss public lands and the many opinions surrounding their use.
"There's a lot of public land issues we need to discuss," …Park County commissioner. "We've been shooting each other in the newspapers now for quite some time. Maybe in the future we won't be in such an adversarial position.
"The relationship between county officials and the state's conservation groups has been strained in recent years and little has been accomplished on either side as a result.
…Greater Yellowstone Coalition, believe that such face-to-face talks can create a new tone of openness and help identify areas of agreement.
Opinions…were frank and far reaching, from the importance of public lands to the region's extractive industries, to preserving the basin's unique landscapes, both alpine and desert.
Stewardship emerged as a common theme…
The political boundary dividing Sarasota and Manatee counties did not get erased…but it may have become a bit fainter.
The two county commissions vowed to step up their collaborative efforts in almost every respect — such as lobbying legislators, applying for grants and possibly even merging some services, such as the bus systems.
"Regionalism," Manatee Commissioner… summing up more than three hours of conversation in one word.
The counties have already achieved some common goals. Both transit systems now share a Tamiami Trail route extending from downtown Palmetto to downtown Sarasota.
Both counties will use a traffic management center recently installed at Manatee's public safety complex to monitor road conditions and remotely control traffic lights.
… commissions agreed to see about using the same vendor …radio networks used by their public safety officials…
The commissioners spent much of the session conferring about how to boost the counties' shared economy and diversify the work force.
Seven United Ways throughout the region announced…they will merge to form United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey - one organization committed to improving lives and creating lasting community-level change across the region.
Collectively…will have the unique capacity to engage more donors, advocates, and volunteers to address the critical issues facing our local communities, including the focus areas for United Ways across the country related to education, income, and health.
"By coming together and sharing our talent, resources and best practices, we will be able to deliver greater impact to those who need us most in local communities across the region," said Michal. "While for profit mergers are often about delivering shareholder value, non-profit mergers are about amplifying mission. As an organization, United Way believes in the power of partnerships and collaboration to solve problems because we know the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.”
In order to attract more tourists to Niagara, cooperation is needed from stakeholders across the region.
“It’s a really smart way to operate in our business,” said Robin Garrett, chief executive of the Niagara Tourism Partnership, the provincially funded Regional Tourism Organization for the peninsula.
Garrett was speaking at the launch event for the RTO’s Niagara Canada branding initiative, which will target both domestic and international visitors through two separate campaigns. The organization has forged partnerships with other tourism groups such as the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation, and Tourism Toronto.
“We want to become known as a premier quality destination,” Garrett said.
There are two distinct strategies for the domestic and international traveller, each with their own tagline.
For the Canadian traveller more familiar with the region it’s about the “Getaway”, while to draw international and long-haul travellers, ...
Since the first Rio conference on sustainable development 20 years ago, the world population has become majority urban.
Cities are the 21st century site of global economic growth and job opportunities, and where billions of people will seek to improve their quality of life. …
Given the slowness of national action, their sub-national governments and institutions are forging ahead. Municipal leaders, who must provide public services to growing populations, are developing long-term sustainability plans as part of their economic development strategies. Green growth - where economic growth is tied to sustainability benchmarks - is a pillar for many sub-national regions and in cities. Agglomeration benefits in urban areas stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in spite of many fiscal constraints. City leaders share success stories and develop policy frameworks that allow other cities, sometimes in very different regions under contrasting governance structures, to adopt the most promising
Representatives of river basin organisations and member countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) have proposed that an environmental tax be levied on the use of Mekong River resources as a mean for the sustainable protection of the 7th longest Asian river.
 …International Conference on Transboundary River Basin Management…in Thailand… participating parties discuss and share their knowledge on the protection of river basins across the globe.
The regional participants also suggested that the so-called 'ecotax' go to GMS member countries who would then determine their shares of the tax revenue to be spent on their river basin conservation and restoration projects, Thai news agency reported.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) has, meanwhile, called for more assessments of environmental and social impacts of hydroelectric power dam projects in the Mekong River, recommending that revenues generated from the projects be redistributed to affected countries.
Analysis of global debt and financial crisis by an economist who saw the problem in 2003 and published a book that was ignored. She also offers a strategy for correction of the problems.
… Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia…argues that people are fundamentally intuitive, not rational. If you want to persuade others, you have to appeal to their sentiments.…He and his colleagues have compiled a catalog of six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity. Alongside these principles, he has found related themes that carry moral weight: divinity, community, hierarchy, tradition, sin and degradation. The worldviews Haidt discusses may differ from yours. They don’t start with the individual. They start with the group or the cosmic order. They exalt families, armies and communities. …
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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

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