Ten Year Anniversary & Evolution - Regional Community Newsletter

Dear Readers –

Today is the ten year anniversary of the newsletter part of the Regions Work Initiative. It is, among other things, an effort to make the notion of "regional community” a viable term relating to community development at multi-jurisdictional scales
This term comes from my experience as a regional planner for Virginia Planning District 7, then the Lord Fairfax Planning District Commission, where I began work in 1973
By the early 1990’s, after two decades of being together as a regional commission, the region began to make progress on a number of joint projects including: management of a regional tire shredder, a Minimum Instream Flow Study for the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, a Civil War Battlefields Heritage plan, and VDOT funded rural transportation planning for the Planning Districts.

Part of that success had to do with a retreat from the fear that the Planning District Commission would become a directly elected Service District Commission, as had been provided for in the 1968 Virginia Area Development Act. Planning District Commissions which, at the start, could not implement programs were given that authority in legislation.

It was also assisted by my creation of the regional name "Northern Shenandoah Valley" in 1983. That became an everyday community identifier, now extensively used in business advertising.

Such regional community emergence was occurring in other Virginia Planning Districts, as well as for Regional Councils and Councils of Government throughout the U.S. in the 1990's.

In total I could see that, regions did work, yet a question was: "What's a region?" Academics and pundits of various stripes thought that the boundaries of existing regional councils were all wrong.

At the 1998 World Future Society Conference in Chicago I began to explore this question with the launch of the Regions Work Initiative, an individual effort.

November 11, 2003, the on-line newsletter Regional Community News was begun, noting:"The focus is on things done at the multi-jurisdiction regional level in the U.S. and around the world." It was based on the TransportationCommunications Newsletter published by Bernie Wagenblast, which is still going strong.

January 4, 2006, the term “Development" was added, since that appeared to be a key objective of regional efforts. In 2008, I committed to another five years, which bring us to this day, November 11, 2013. 

In 2012, the effort became: Greater/Regional Community Motivation - News and Thought. Distribution of new stories shifted to a daily stream via Twitter, Flipboard and Google+. Thought pieces are on the blog and distributed via Yahoo Groups.

Another concept I sought to develop has been a geocode to enable aggregation of data by political geography, since alphabetic FIPS codes could not do so.

Success can be reported in this area with the upcoming publication of: “Prototype Global Coding of Political Geographies for Library and Data Management-Wikipedia Example” in the Papers of the Applied Geography Conferences. Materials are online http://goo.gl/7C0iIE.

These efforts will continue. There is a growing need for human unity and cooperation in the world. Community motive, the term used by Aldo Leopold in 1944, is another concept that would benefit the world, as it balances the lesser profit motive.

Feedback is always welcome.


Tom Christoffel, FeRSA, AICP, Editor

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