Kaid Benfield Archive


Bringing regions together for cooperation and planning would promote sustainability

Kaid Benfield

Posted March 6, 2009 at 1:29PM

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Cities are traditionally blue, rural areas red, and suburbs purple, says Bill Dodge, former executive director of the National Association of Regional Councils, on Citiwire.  But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't or can't cooperate, and Dodge believes the trend may be favorable.  If so, it will be a good thing for the issues we care about. 

Dodge's piece came across my virtual desk on Thursday.  Here's a bit of it:

"More urban regions are becoming interested in preserving their rural fringes, to slow profligate sprawl growth and promote infill development that utilizes existing infrastructure and services.

"Simultaneously, more rural regions have begun to encounter the same economic, environmental, and social challenges as the more urban ones-absorbing new immigrants from other regions and overseas, for example. Local leaders and citizens in both sets of regions realized that they cannot address their own challenges, especially tough ones like affordable housing, if they can't engage all parts of their regions-red, blue, and purple-in resolving them . . .

"More rural regions are now providing agricultural and Northern Virginia regional plan, 1965 (via Prince William Conservation Alliance)other goods to neighboring urban regions and more urban regions are providing emergency preparedness and other services to neighboring rural regions. Soon, urban and rural regions could be jointly preserving the fields and forests that are critical to consuming the CO2 emissions that threaten the future livability of all regions.

Dodge posits that our first president to speak of "the new metropolitan reality" might do well to create an Office of Regional Policy within the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Interesting idea.  Go here for the full story.

Incidentally, the image accompanying this post is of a regional plan for Northern Virginia, depicting what planners hoped in 1965 the area might look like in 2000.  In actuality, sprawl overran the place and almost all of that hoped-for green space was obliterated.  With good regional cooperation, it might not have turned out that way.