Archive for June, 2012

Watch as we install a rain garden at the Dickinson Public Library.

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What is the connection between endangered habitat for ducks on the Katy and other prairies and walkable neighborhoods in Houston?  The connection is that walkable neighborhoods are much more compact than conventional, large-lot neighborhoods. A walkable neighborhood might use as little as 1/10  the space of a conventional neighborhood.  Developing as we have, Houston will consume an additional 1000 square miles of farmlands, prairies, and forests.  So the connection for Houston is 900 square miles!   For a little more detail on this, read this Houston Chronicle editorial on how the light rail could help save some of those square miles of habitat.

Photo Credits: Jim Charlier and Joe Fischer (http://www.pbase.com/joe_e_fischer/image/107684325)

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The political season is upon us.  Politicos will be making hay on anything they can. Smart growth and sustainability are two ideas VERY susceptible to political manipulation. For many, the anti-sprawl message smacks of liberal elitism. Nothing could be further from the truth, but sometimes sustainability practitioners can be their own worst enemy in this regard.

The issue of sustainable and resilient communities is way too important to let it become a partisan political issue. Read this blog from Bacon’s Rebellion: Smart Growth for Conservatives.  James Bacon makes some very convincing arguments that the things that smart growth is all about, particularly communities choosing their own path, are very much at the heart of the traditional conservative movement.

This essay is very important for those of us in Extension working in this area. It is not about us telling communities what they need. Sometimes we in academia take the white-coated doctor’s approach of telling the patient what is good for him or her. In reality we need to be more like a coach helping our clients to make the best decisions they can, insuring that they have access to the very best of what our university brain trusts have to offer.

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