Posts filed under ‘Relocalization’

Strength Test #1: How’s your Main Street doing?

“Take a photo of your main street at midday. Does the picture show more people than cars?”

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This is the first item on the Strength Test for a reason. It helps us understand on a very basic level whether your town is filled with cars passing through, or people enjoying your city center as a destination. At Strong Towns, we call humans the “indicator species of economic health.” If you’ve got a lot of them walking around, visiting your town’s businesses, enjoying your town’s amenities and living in your town’s homes, you’re well on your way to being a strong town. That means you have an economic base to support your community and people who genuinely want to live in your place and contribute to it.

On the other hand, if your main street is devoid of people and merely a thoroughfare for cars, that tells us about your town’s auto-dependence (which makes infrastructure costs expensive) and it tells us about the tax base of your community. In our analyses of tax value per acre in city after city, we find that downtown cores and main streets are the most economically productive places.

Read Strength Test #1: How’s your Main Street doing? by Rachel Quedno at Strong Towns.

June 26, 2017 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

From CSAs to containers at Hoople Creek Farms near Ingleside

There really is no excuse to not having fresh vegetables on your table each meal.

Hoople Creek Organic Farms is making it easier to make sure your family gets fresh vegetables by offering up another new in initiative, container gardens.

Hoople Creek owner Jamie Creskey said they have been operating the farm for 10 years now and hopes this new initiative will reach even more local residents interested in having fresh, organic vegetables on their tables.

“The idea is to allow more people to be able to grow organic produce and have it all season long,” said Creskey.

“Not everybody has the time, or wants to have as much as we produce for our CSA customers,” he said. “And we have been trialing hundreds of different vegetables to find the best ones to grow organically in our region. So we are making those plants available now through our container gardens.”

Read From CSAs to containers at Hoople Creek Farms near Ingleside by Lois Ann Baker at The Standard-Freeholder.

May 10, 2017 at 10:02 am Leave a comment

StrongestTown Contest 2017 – Championship Round

We’ve invited our members, listeners and readers to nominate towns based on the Strong Towns strength test and Strong Towns principles. We know that no town is perfect. This contest is about showcasing towns that are doing their best to be strong, that have the building blocks in place to be strong towns today and in the future.

The votes are in and we’ve narrowed down our 16 town bracket to two final contestants: Guelph, Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan.

April 10, 2017 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Policies for Shareable Cities

IMG_0443Cities are built for sharing. It’s what makes cities engines of prosperity, innovation, and cultural exchange. Well connected cities have the unique capacity to raise per capita production and innovation while using dramatically less energy. For this reason, cities may be our best hope for achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits.

The sharing economy has deep implications for how cities design urban spaces, create jobs, reduce crime, manage transportation, and provide for citizens. As such, the sharing economy also has deep implications for policy making. The sharing economy challenges core assumptions made in 20th century planning and regulatory frameworks – namely, that residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities should be physically separated from one other, and that each single family household operates as an independent economic unit.

The guide curates scores of innovative, high impact policies that US city governments have put in place to help citizens share resources, co-produce, and create their own jobs. It focuses on sharing policy innovations in food, housing, transportation, and jobs — key pocket book issues of citizens and priorities of urban leaders everywhere. The guide is meant to help cities develop more resilient, innovative, and democratic economies.

Read the guide  Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders produced by Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

March 6, 2017 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

How to Encourage Entrepreneurship in Your Town

…nine different ideas for promoting entrepreneurship, within both government and the private sector.

street-festivalA strong town needs strong local businesses. Local businesses provide jobs and opportunities for wealth creation. They can become a draw, encouraging visitors from outside your community, as well as a way for community members to support each other by buying local. Only with a thriving locally-based economy—one that isn’t owned or propped up by someone six states away—can we succeed in creating sustainable jobs and lasting economic prosperity.

Entrepreneurship is a hot word these days. Lots of towns say they would like to attract more entrepreneurs and grow their small business communities. But how do you do it? There are many ways to encourage entrepreneurship in your community, both through government leadership and private sector/neighborhood-level work.

THE GOVERNMENT’S ROLE IN ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

1. Adjust zoning codes to reduce business costs.

Do your zoning codes allow for mixed-use buildings where a shop owner runs her business on the first floor and lives upstairs? Are there minimum parking requirements for new businesses? Are food trucks permitted in your community? These are good questions to ask if you want to encourage small business growth. Buying or renting and renovating a building for a new business can be extremely costly. If your community allows for creative use of space, diverse income streams and smaller options than the typical stand-alone store, you lower the barriers to entry for small business owners.

2. Help facilitate walkable business districts.

Walkability is a huge factor in small business success and can create fertile soil for entrepreneurship to thrive. In a concentrated, walkable neighborhood with shops and restaurants, passersby are far more likely to frequent multiple businesses than if they were just driving to a specific store in an auto-oriented area.

Read How to Encourage Entrepreneurship in Your Town by Rachel Quednau at Strong Towns.

February 20, 2017 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

From Oil Age to Soil Age

Debra Solomon examines nature’s internet at Schumacher College in England

Debra Solomon examines nature’s internet at Schumacher College in England

In 1971 a geologist called Earl Cook evaluated the amount of energy ‘captured from the environment’ in different economic systems. Cook discovered then that a modern city dweller needed about 230,000 kilocalories per day to keep body and soul together. This compared starkly to a hunter-gatherer, 10,000 years earlier, who needed about 5,000 kcal per day to get by.

That gap, between simple and complex lives, has widened at an accelerating rate since Cook’s pioneering work. Once all the systems, networks and equipment of modern life are factored in – the cars, planes, factories, buildings, infrastructure, heating, cooling, lighting, food, water, hospitals, the internet of things, cloud computing – well, a New Yorker or Londoner today ‘needs’ about sixty times more energy and resources per person than a hunter-gatherer – and her appetite is growing by the day.

To put it another way: modern citizens today use more energy and physical resources in a month than our great-grandparents used during their whole lifetime.

 

Read from Oil Age to Soil Age by John Thackara at Resilience.org

December 14, 2016 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

Main Streets matter: Shop local this holiday season

christmas-storeForget the Internet and the mall. Show support for innovative, independent local business owners instead. It’s a win-win situation for all.

If you have not yet finished your holiday shopping — or, like me, haven’t even started it — then I would like to suggest a challenge. This is what I’m planning to do, and it would be lovely if more people joined in.

Forget about Internet shopping. Put down your credit card and phone. Close the browser window that’s open to Amazon, eBay, and the like. Put on your boots and coat. Don’t go to the mall. Go, instead, for a walk. Head to the main street of your town or city, where glowing shop windows are decorated and lit up for the season.

Read Main Streets matter: Shop local this holiday season by Katheine Martinko at Treehugger.com

November 30, 2016 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

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