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The National Association of Realtors® has found that the majority of Americans prefer living in mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods, “where shops, restaurants, and local businesses are within an easy stroll from their homes and their jobs are a short commute away,” according to the NAR’s newly released 2011 Community Preference Survey.
According to the survey, 56% of people in the U.S. prefer living in a “smart growth community,” and 43% opt for a “sprawl community.”
It seems that the cost and hassle of driving these days is impacting how people choose where to live. Most people would opt for smaller residences, if it means they can drive less, the survey found. This point is also made by Kaid Benfield, the director of Sustainable Communities & Smart Growth, in his blog post on the Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog “SWiTHBOARD.”
On the other hand, the many people who “prefer the sprawl community are motivate mostly by desire to live in single-family homes on larger lots,” according to the survey. And the privacy that single-family homes and larger lots provide appeals to many people.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info
The Project for Public Spaces, an outspoken advocate for taking a ‘placemaking’ approach to community planning and development, has an interesting article posted on their website about job creation. The piece, “Putting Our Jobs Back in Place," touches upon a number of the major talking points that the Center for 21st Century Communities (21c3) focuses on - especially Physical Design & Walkability and Transit.The article makes a good point that job creation in the 21st century happens where people and businesses can gather. Market squares, community centers, mixed-use spaces, bustling main streets, schools, high tech and new economy incubators and other types of hubs - these all play a large role in job creation, according to the article. For example, its writer supposes that business owners and their workforce are looking for “physical proximity to others in the same fields, giving places with a critical mass of high tech, financial, legal, media, design, advertising and other industries a distinct advantage."In downtown Detroit, the transformation of Campus Martius Park “spurred major redevelopment which brought many new jobs and a half-million dollars in new investment in offices, shops, condos and a hotel to the city. Compuware, a leading IT solutions company, built their corporate headquarters housing 4000 employees across the street from the future park...This is a prime example of how urban districts with a vital sense of place can take advantage of changes in the way business is done,” according to the article.Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info.
Preparing young students living in south Dearborn and southwest Detroit for college is the focus of a new collaborative pilot project. The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) and Henry Ford Community College will offer "a for-credit college preparation course," which "aims to help students successfully transition to and complete community college education," from September 21 - December 17, 2010, from 3 - 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to the class announcement. Instead of holding it at the community college, they will offer the class out in the community, at ACCESS Youth & Family Center, which might better access students living in the area.
"This geographic area was selected due to the high low-income and immigrant population in these communities," the announcement reads. It reports; "Data shows that youth and young adults in low income communities are less likely to enroll in college, and for those who do enroll, their chances of succeeding are low. The idea behind this initative is to 'bring the college to the community' to ease them into the experience, as well as to help them achieve academic success once enrolled."
The class is in no way exclusive to a particular race or ethnicity (they are targeting high school seniors and adults between the ages of 21 and 24 with a G.PA. between 1.8 and 3.2), however one could conclude from the fact that it is being held at ACCESS that the project will likely reach some of the Arab students living in South Dearborn, as well as students belonging to other minority groups in the area. For more information contact Justine Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding ways to bring greater access to food and more food buying choices to Michigan residents living in "Food Deserts" is a challenge that enters into all sorts of conversations at both the government and community engagement levels - from discussions about city planning strategies, to business development efforts, to urban agricultural initiatives, to a variety of non-profit and community-based outreach projects happening right now. It's a good time to familiarize yourself with the term and the complexity of issues surrounding how lacking access to grocery stores and healthy food options negatively impacts not only human health but the health of neighborhoods.
Research consultant Mari Gallagher has studied "Food Deserts" in Detroit, and I found her report, "Examining the Impact of Food Deserts of Public Health in Detroit," on Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity's website, which also features other food related information for you to browse. If you are more interested in hearing what the impact of "Food Deserts" is straight from the mouths of people living in them, take a look at this older Detroit News article, from 2007, which reported on grocery store closing in Detroit. This article, "Grocery closings hit Detroit hard: City shoppers' choices dwindle as last big chain leaves," includes a lengthly discussion about some of the issues related to the lack of food choices in Detroit, and it features public feedback from people who are personally impacted.
I don't live in a "Food Desert," but when I hear about people living in these areas - mostly low-income, economically depressed neighborhoods - I try to sympathize and understand what it must be like for them. I think of my frequent trips to the corner gas station, which is the only convenient place within walking distance to run to the store for things like trash bags, paper towels, batteries, and cat food. I don't compare my lack of convenient dish soap options to the lack of food choices plaguing many people in places like Detroit - "Food Deserts" are a much more serious issue. However, it makes me think about how lucky I am that the corner gas station isn't the only place nearby that I can buy food.
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