Monthly Archives: June 2005

Business leaders and regional cooperation

Business leaders throughout the U.S. are getting increasingly organized to improve the economic fortunes and the quality of life of the regions they live and do business in. They, along with colleagues in the public and nonprofit sectors, are realizing that the scale of the challenges facing U.S. communities are beyond the ability of any one sector to solve — collaboration has become a practical necessity.

MetroBusinessNet is a new resource for business-civic leaders interested in working collaboratively to support sustainable and inclusive economic development on a metropolitan scale, however, community leaders at any geographic scale can find useful information on their website.

Visit the MetroBusinessNet website

Community internet

When Glenwood Springs created its own wireless internet service infrastructure a couple of years ago, it was hard to imagine such an act would instigate national debate. But last year, when Philadelphia attempted to follow Glenwood Springs and other communities across the U.S. by becoming an Internet Service Provider (ISP), it ignited a heated debate that has resulted in new legislation across the country.

This debate took place in the Colorado this year. The Legislature passed SB 05-152, which as a compromise requires communities to put the ISP option to a public vote. Fortunately, communities such as Glenwood Springs are grandfathered by the legislation.

For more information on community internet access and broadband as a public service visit Free Press.

Making Better Places

City planner Jeff Speck, director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, offers advice — in the form of ten City Design Resolutions — for elected officials who want to build better places. His advice is aimed at larger cities, but I think his points apply to smaller communities as well. (See the full article here.)

His ten points include:

1. Design Streets for People

2. Overrule the Specialists

3. Mix the Uses

4. Hide the Parking Lots

5. Small is Beautiful

6. Save That Building

7. Build Normal (Affordable) Housing

8. Build Green / Grow Green

9. Question your Codes

10. Don’t Forget Beauty

I think #9 (Question your codes) is a particularly promising approach since most people don’t even know what is in their town codes (and really, why should they?). The growing interest in form-based codes (or smart codes), which focus more on location, height, design, and parking rather than function could make it easier for communities to connect their comprehensive plan (the vision) with their zoning (the rules). Speck’s recommendations also match the areas of smart growth covered in HMC’s Colorado Smart Growth Scorecard.

Why a blog?

Field Notes is an attempt to share information, new ideas and stories about community development that catch my attention. The idea for Field Notes comes from Stephen Denning's The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations in which he tells an impressive "story" of how storytelling can serve as a tool for organizational change and knowledge management.

"By a springboard story, I mean a story which enables a leap in understanding by the audience so as to grasp how an organization or community or complex system may change."
– Stephen Denning

Hopefully, some of these notes (stories) act as a springboard for improvements in your community. This blog compliments Healthy Mountain Communities' organizational newsletter and webpage.

Thanks for your interest.