The Buzz Words of Urban Community DevelopmentBy Nakia Stith
There are so many buzz words that connotate the urban planning of healthy communities. Thanks to trusty ole Wikipedia I put together some of my favorites.
Urbanism:The study of how dwellers in towns and cities interact with their environment. Urbanism focuses on the geography, economy, politics and social characteristics of the urban environment, as well as the effects on, and caused by, the built environment.
Place Making: A multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces that capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, ultimately creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.
Sustainability:The capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use.
Green Infrastructure: Highlights the importance of the natural environment in decisions about land-use planning. In particular there is an emphasis on the “life support” functions provided by a network of natural ecosystems, with an emphasis on interconnectivity to support long-term sustainability.
Walkability:A measure of how friendly an area is to walking with a concentration on the health, environmental, and economic benefits and the presence or absence of quality footpaths, sidewalks or other pedestrian right-of-ways, traffic and road conditions, land use patterns, building accessibility, and safety, among others.
Urban Sprawl:A multi-faceted concept centered around the expansion of low-density development. Topics range from the outward spreading of a city and its suburbs to its logical limits, to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, examination of impact of high segregation between residential and commercial uses, and analysis various design features to determine which may encourage car dependency.
Urban Density: A term used in urban planning and urban design to refer to the number of people inhabiting a given urbanized area. As such it is to be distinguished from other measures of population density. Urban density is considered an important factor in understanding how cities function. Research related to urban density occurs across diverse areas, including economics, health, innovation, psychology and geography as well as sustainability.
Food Desert: Any area in the industrialized world where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain. Food deserts are prevalent in rural as well as urban areas and are most prevalent in low-socioeconomic minority communities. They are associated with a variety of diet-related health problems.
All of these terms represent a integrative approach to creating communities- however there is no word that represents safety and security. One is left to assume that the conversation of safety and security can be assumed and are implied by the terms above, however, it is my belief that safety and security needs to be an explicit conversation.
The conversation of safety and security must be brought to the fore. We can’t afford to keep treating safety and security like the ugly step child that doesn’t warrant attention, until it’s time to place blame after something has gone wrong. A large part of creating resilient communities includes safety and security. I am surprised and concerned by the dominant ideas that beautifying a community, creating new housing options, giving communities green spaces and fresh foods translate into inherent safety. Although, people are more apt to be respectful of beautified spaces that still doesn’t address the gamut of safety concerns that communities can encounter- including but not limited to roles of our police and emergency response personnel; emergency management and crisis response; processes and plans that take communities from prevention/mitigation through recovery for natural and manmade disasters; and the wellbeing of the family unit; just to name a few. Heck, do community members have basic first aid knowledge?
Don’t get me wrong I love buzzwords and the philosophies behind them and it hit me that my team needs to come up with a cool word that describes our work to reinvent the way urban communities view safety and security. Oh wait, we have… it’s called ResilienC!