Description of Talks



From Famine and Froot Loops® to Food Democracy: Turning Crisis into Liberating Action
FRANCES MOORE LAPPÉ, Author and Cofounder of the Small Planet Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but by a scarcity of democracy, reflecting the worsening worldwide concentration of economic and political power. But at the same time, in every corner of our earth, Frances Moore Lappé finds powerful examples of citizens finding their voices. They’re reconnecting with the best of their own farming and food traditions to create communities aligned with nature and with human nature, our need to have a voice in true living democracies. These powerful stories, of people taking the biggest risks to show another world is possible, help give us all grounds for honest hope. They show us that democracy is not something we have; it is what we do.

A Field Guide to Sprawl
DOLORES HAYDEN, Professor of Architecture & Urbanism, and of American Studies, Yale University
Dolores Hayden Seana Siekman

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Can you define edge node, boomburb, tower farm, big box, and parsley round the pig? Sprawl is hard to pin down and the terms change every day. This talk will define the vocabulary of sprawl from alligator to zoomburb, illustrating fifty-one colorful terms invented by real estate developers and designers to characterize contemporary building patterns. This "devil's dictionary" of American building accompanies a sharp critique of metropolitan regions organized around unsustainable growth, where sprawling new areas of automobile-oriented construction flourish as older neighborhoods are left to decline.

Urbanization in Connecticut: Tracking its Progress, & Defining its Environmental Impacts
CHESTER ARNOLD, Associate Director, Center for Land Use Education and Research, University of Connecticut
Chester Arnold Eric Leflore

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The UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) is engaged in an ongoing study of land cover change in Connecticut. Currently, we have data for the 21-year period from 1985 to 2006. The study allows us to characterize trends in many land-cover related metrics, including: the growth of developed land; loss of agricultural land and forest; forest fragmentation; and changes to riparian (streamside) corridor areas. This information, coupled with national research on the relationship of land cover to environmental health, gives insight into the status and trends of key factors of Connecticut’s environment.

Shopping Centers and Sprawl
EMIL POCOCK, Professor of History & American Studies, Eastern Connecticut State University
Emil Pocock Zoe Diaz Martin

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Shopping centers have become ubiquitous icons of American sprawl, but ironically they emerged from quite different visions of suburban communities. Modest assemblages of shops and services were often included in the plans of exclusive nineteenth- and early twentieth-century suburbs to serve the day-to-day needs of local residents. With the proliferation of suburbs after World War II, even larger shopping centers were built independently of residential development as convenient alternatives to downtown shopping.

Alarmed at the loss of community life in the vast expanses of relentless post-World War II residential housing, Victor Gruen promoted shopping malls as multi-purpose synthetic community centers. His early 1950s malls provided space for retail shopping, but also for a variety of other civic, cultural, and entertainment functions, including theaters, meeting rooms, art shows, and post offices in pedestrian-oriented settings. His efforts to preserve a sense of community in the burgeoning suburbs were largely ignored, but his innovative designs (including the first entirely enclosed mall) were copied by developers focused exclusively on retail shopping. The resulting islands of large one- and two-story enclosed malls, surrounded by parking lots and linked to suburbs by networks of limited access highways, became integral to modern suburban sprawl.

Nevertheless, shopping malls cannot be blamed for creating sprawl and may not have even been inevitable. They resulted from a constellation of factors, including growing ambivalence about city life, preference for individual home ownership, private automobiles at the expense of public transportation, and demand for consumer goods. Official policies of post-war dispersal of the population, subsidized highways, tax laws that favored new commercial development, and lack of effective suburban planning made stand-alone shopping centers practical and profitable enterprises that filled many of the needs of suburban living, while they also contributed to modern sprawl.

The Impacts and Controls of Supersized Houses
JACK NASAR, Professor of City & Regional Planning, Ohio State University, Editor, Journal of Planning Literature
Jack Nasar Max Weigert

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“A builder is now constructing a massive mansion some ten times larger than the pre-existing building on each lot … These large land-use changes in such a small area have significant effects on the town as a whole” (McMansions: The Extent and Regulation of Super-sized Houses by Jack L. Nasar, Jennifer S. Evans-Cowley, Vicente Mantero).

Urban design is where design meets public policy. This talk addresses two urban design issues: 1) the extent, impact and regulation of McMansions (supersized houses); and 2) design guidelines to allow residents to build or expand their house without harming the character of the street. First, I will define McMansions and talk about their consequences for smart growth and the economics of communities. I will discuss my survey of 103 U.S. cities on the extent and presence of McMansions and the regulatory approaches that communities use to control them. Secondly, communities need to know what to control and what constitutes “too big.” Using color simulations, six studies tested the perceived compatibility and visual appeal of streets in relation to characteristics of the infill house and its context. I will conclude with design guidelines that emerge from the studies, how to refine them for local contexts, and discuss an ongoing study on the effectiveness of two regulatory approaches that communities use to deal with McMansion.

City Friendly Transportation Planning: A Pathway to Sustainability
NORMAN GARRICK, Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut
Norman Garrick Clare Murphy Hagan

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Since 1950, conventional urban transportation planning has been largely directed at providing fast and efficient mobility for private travel – freeways were built, streets were widened and buildings were razed for parking. Most cities went along with the program and suffered tremendously, but there have been a handful of cities that resisted the status quo and developed an alternative city friendly approach to transportation. These cities focused on transportation solutions that were compatible with, and enhanced their urban fabric, life and character.

Transportation planners have largely overlooked the story of how and why these trailblazing cities forged a different approach. But the transportation policies that these cities adopted contain important lessons about the path forward for creating sustainable places. The success of these cities has spurred a growing number of municipalities to adopt their own versions of city friendly transportation planning. They are now also beginning to reap the benefits that come from reducing car dependency. In this presentation I will tell the story of some of the places that pioneered city friendly transportation planning and how this approach can help to rein in sprawl and help to revitalize traditional urban centers.

Evolving from Sprawl: The Way Forward
ANTHONY FLINT, Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Anthony Flint Rebecca Horan

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After a half-century of car-oriented outward expansion, environmental imperatives require a turn inward to that greenest form of human settlement: our cities. The Obama administration’s support of new energy, smart growth, transit and inter-city rail is hindered by public finance in crisis, uncertainty in the housing markets and the economy, and political polarization. Just at the moment when the era of sprawl might be declared over, challenges have never been greater for metropolitan regions. In this presentation I will assess how a vision for planning and key urban infrastructure might shape the 21st century city.

What's Smart about Smart Growth? A Regional and Metropolitan Assessment
OWEN GUTFREUND, Associate Professor of Urban Affairs & Planning, Hunter College (CUNY)
Owen Gutfreund Raymond Palmer

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This talk will assess the equity and outcomes of growth management initiatives. The benefits of such efforts tend to be unevenly distributed -- both spatially and demographically, perpetuating and exacerbating regional inequities. By considering these questions from metropolitan and regional perspectives, questions of social equity and environmental justice can be highlighted, with implications for different - and "smarter" approaches to planning for growth. Also, a historical perspective will be introduced, showing how "smart growth" policies of previous generations produced many of today's unfair and unsustainable land-use problems.

Barriers to Smart Growth: Facing the Reality of Land and Housing Markets
MARGARET WALLS, Senior Fellow, Thomas J. Klutznick Chair, Resources for the Future
Margaret Walls Catharine Brookes

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Local communities across the United States have employed a variety of smart growth-oriented policy tools. The success of these measures in altering urban development patterns, however, ultimately depends on the actions of private landowners, profit-maximizing developers, and budget-constrained housing consumers. In this paper, I discuss experience with a range of policies – infill development incentives, transfer of development rights and purchase of development rights programs, urban growth boundaries, and others – and explain how the design of these programs often disregards key aspects of private markets.

Smart Growth: Residents’ Social and Psychological Benefits, Costs, and Design
BARBARA BROWN, Environmental Psychologist, Professor of Family & Consumer Studies, U of Utah
Barbara Brown Scott Siedor

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Smart growth and allied movements, such as new urbanism, tout many societal-level benefits: preserved open space, less costly infrastructure, less automobile dependence and pollution, and more equitable housing and transportation opportunities. But does smart growth offer social and psychological benefits to residents? Both past social science studies and local planning efforts are filled with examples of how many residents fear and dislike crowding, “different” neighbors, and urban neighborhoods. Yet many residents of smart growth communities experience place attachment, enjoy neighborhood social contact opportunities, and achieve more transportation choices. I draw on local studies within Salt Lake County and refer to studies elsewhere to examine social and psychological benefits and costs of life in new urban and smart growth neighborhoods. I suggest that the traditional car-dependent suburban ideal is so powerful that smart growth proponents need a better understanding of how residents experience their communities in both smart growth and low-density suburban neighborhoods. When problems arise in these neighborhoods, research also suggests a number of solutions: better designs, greater understanding of the broad range of benefits and costs of both smart growth and suburban alternatives, and better communication of neighborhood qualities to promote smart choices by residents.

How Do You Want to Live? Where Do You Want to Live? Why? Lessons for Smart Growth Reformers, Drawn From Southwestern Cities in the United States
MARYANNE BORRELLI, Associate Professor of Government, Connecticut College
MaryAnne Borrelli Fiona Jensen

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From the perspective of those in more humid climates, southwestern cities seem to exemplify urban practices that celebrate resource consumption. And, as housing foreclosures continue throughout this region, economic strictures add a sense of failure to this implicit criticism. Yet it is far more accurate to say that southwestern settlement practices and cities reflect value judgments made throughout the United States, which have shaped policy at every level of government for generations. Southwestern cities therefore merit close and careful study precisely for what they reveal about our national priorities, and thus about our personal preferences in the midst of environments that are at once fragile and resilient. As such, how and to what extent southwestern cities have embraced smart growth practices may well foreshadow the extent to which these innovations will be accepted and practiced in more humid (and perhaps more sustainable) urban centers.

Sustainable Design and Social Purpose
DAVID RUBIN, Landscape Architect, Partner, OLIN, Philadelphia
David Rubin Kelsey Cohen

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Recognizing that American cities are at a tipping point, Rubin seeks to change thinking about landscape for its transformative power to affect the lives of all citizens. It is the most democratic of disciplines to influence urbanity, wherein everyone gets to participate- whether over privileged or underserved. Rubin will explore tangible evidence that landscape can play a catalytic role in the necessary revitalization of the city. His topic explores the belief that nothing should do just one thing, and a multipurpose landscape lends to economic, environmental and social sustainability. Using examples of built and proposed work, he will identify the potential for urban living and regeneration of the American City.

Marjorie Dilley Lecture
Using Small ‘d’ Democracy to Create Smart Growth in Two New England Towns
KEVIN ESSINGTON, Director of Government Relations & Communications, The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island
Kevin Essington Flora Drury

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The Nature Conservancy identified the Borderlands, a heavily forested rural area on the Rhode Island-Connecticut border, as a conservation priority in 2000. The Conservancy worked with partners to conserve thousands of acres in that time, but also launched multiple partnerships to promote better land use policies in these 20 towns. Through regional engagement, we identified two towns, Killingly (CT) and Exeter (RI) as being ‘ripe’ for in-depth engagement on promoting village-style growth, to protect the rural landscape and encourage sustainable economic development. This talk will discuss the methods used to set the stage in these towns for real changes in how they make decisions about growth.

Rural Smart Growth: The Role of Local Farms & Food in Advancing Livable Communities
JULIA FREEDGOOD, Managing Director, Farmlands & Communities Initiatives, American Farmland Trust
Julia Freedgood Janan Evans Wilent

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Over the past 25 years, 41 million acres were converted to development, an area the size of Illinois and New Jersey combined. More than half of that area was working agricultural land. Over this period, the U.S. population grew 30%, but developed land use increased 57%. Our food supply is in the path of this development: 91% of our fruit production, 78% of our vegetables and more than half our dairy and poultry production. This presents both challenges and opportunities for smarter growth and building sustainable communities. This session will address rural development in a smart growth context, finding ways to sustain agriculture near cities, keep farmland in farming and create livable communities.

Framing, Presenting, & Contesting Smart Growth Policies & Strategies in the Political Marketplace
JOHN HANNIGAN, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto
John Hannigan Katie Lynch

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New ways of operating cities don’t appear spontaneously in the political marketplace, but rather are conceived and framed in a multitude of ways in often competing policy arenas. This is especially the case for smart growth, which, as Anthony Downs (2001) pointed out nearly a decade ago, “refers to many different bundles of specific policies” appealing in varying degrees and ways to disparate groups (anti or slow-growth advocates and environmentalists, pro-growth advocates, inner city advocates, better growth advocates). In this challenging context, it is vital that we establish a shared and politically feasible understanding of the problem of urban sprawl and smart growth solutions.

In crafting and legislating urban and environmental policy initiatives two cardinal problems emerge. First of all, public support must be secured and the issue placed on the political agenda. As Eric Lawrence and colleagues (2010) observe, problem definition and framing are critical elements in influencing public opinion and policy preferences. In securing public support for a national urban agenda, Lawrence et al. found evidence to show that policies that are constructed broadly (“ the plight of America’s cities”) rather than narrowly (specific city problems); that are aimed at positively perceived target groups (children, elderly) versus those that are negatively regarded (drug addicts, street youth); and that promise the delivery of resource to a wide swath of beneficiaries versus a minority (‘distressed cities’) have a better chance for success. However, public support does not automatically ensure that a policy will be embraced. This second task demands that interest groups skillfully articulate their demands within the confines of the political marketplace. Thus, Cruz (2009) found that Florida cities and counties were most likely to adopt smart growth regulations such as urban containment, density bonuses and smart growth zoning where interest groups and local governments engaged in mutually beneficial exchanges and where the match with political institutions was right. This was facilitated by strategic framing practices on the part of smart growth proponents.

In this presentation I attempt to do two things. First, I will propose a three-stage, social constructionist model of policy framing and political marketing [invention, and labeling; presentation and legitimation; contestation and consensus building] to help us understand why and how some urban visions and initiatives succeed and others fail. Second, I will apply this to the specific case of smart growth strategies, especially in the context of environmental concern and discourse. Hopefully, this will contribute to the consideration of promising new directions for urban and suburban development.

Contact Information:
Goodwin-Niering Center
Phone:
860-439-5417
Fax:
860-439-2418
goodwin-nieringcenter@conncoll.edu

Goodwin-Niering Center
Connecticut College
Box 5293
F.W. Olin Science Center, Room 109
270 Mohegan Avenue
New London, CT  06320

 

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