Guest Post by Keith Reester, Director of Public Works, Loveland, Co.

Every day we build! Public works builds roads, bridges, sidewalks, and parks…are we doing it in a way that makes our communities better today and in the future?  If we look across our nation we face a dynamic shift in demographics and in community health; our population is aging and also rapidly growing in girth. So what difference does that make to public works professionals?


We are the managers of the built environment in our communities; we take the lead in assuring access by cars, bikes, and pedestrians. In many communities our past decisions now haunt our present as we try to build our way into a form of multi-modal connectivity. Some of us will discount the new efforts to add bike lanes at the expense of move vehicle travel lanes, or divert a portion of our dwindling and hard fought capital dollars to projects that seem to have far less users for the cost we pay for them. But part of building sustainable communities is about interconnecting neighborhoods and access to services that residents want and need. Sometimes it is being the leader in making this happen while in others it takes being a follower. In many communities the discussion of sustainability wraps around integrating and changing the built environment for better ecosystems and health.

In the past year HBO Films has developed series of films, The Weight of the Nation, highlighting what the United States faces in terms of obesity and the factors that contribute to its rapid rise. The link to the short film below (19 minutes) highlights changes in Nashville, Tennessee and watch for our peers on the Nashville team as they work through changes in community infrastructure to transform the health of their community.


Another interesting film on the built environment and communities in featured in the one-hour documentary Urbanized http://urbanizedfilm.com/


So what are you doing in your community to  integrate and change the built environment for better ecosystems and health?


The Center for Sustainability Leadership Group is proud to announce the release of a new video that highlights the role public works plays in creating sustainable communities.  The goal of the Center in creating this video was to inform, educate and inspire you to learn more about practical and effective sustainable projects and solutions.  The video highlights innovative projects in seven cities across the US and Canada that are creating vibrant communities by balancing the environmental, economic and social needs of their communities.   The projects featured in the video reflect a broad range of municipalities and solutions to different community challenges and are easily replicable by other communities.   


As you watch the video think about how you are contributing to sustainability in your community --  – I bet most of you already have sustainable projects in your community.  Public works professionals have always been focused on creating and maintaining the quality of life in our cities and towns.  Also, as you watch, think about how you can implement similar projects and solutions in your community or what additional information or resources you need to create sustainable communities.  The Center for Sustainability Leadership Group created this video to help inform and inspire you because as President Diane Linderman says in the video “ …regardless of the size of your town, the climate, location or the financial resources you have at your disposal, we – as public works professionals—along with the people that live in our communities  -- together, we are all stewards of sustainability.” 


One DVD copy of the 22 minute video, along with additional materials from the Center for Sustainability, will be sent to all APWA Chapters in September, and Chapters and Branches are able to request additional copies of the DVD by contacting Julia Anastasio at janastasio@apwa.net for chapter and branch use. 





Runtime: 23:03                                                                                                   Watch on APWATV


APWA, along with several partners including the National Leagues of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the International City/County Management Association, and lead by the National Association of regional Councils, are pleased to share with you a new livability resources, Livability Literature Review: A synthesis of Current Best Practices.  This new comprehensive report describes how livability is understood, provides examples of livable communities in practice and adds context and clarity to several livability concepts.  The new report will help you better understand the resources available to create sustainable and livable communities. 


In June 2009, the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined together to form the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities.  The Interagency Partnership developed Six Livability Principles to guide its work.  The six livability principles are:


(1) Provide more transportation choices.

(2) Promote equitable, affordable housing.

(3) Enhance economic competitiveness.

(4) Support existing communities.

(5) Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment. And

(6) Enhance communities and neighborhoods.



NARC convened APWA and tis other partners through a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration to identify and disseminate tools and practices that local governments can use as to bring sustainability and livability to their communities.  The final project will build upon the report released today by providing replicable case studies and tools for planners, local elected officials and public works professionals interested in creating livability programs in your communities. 


In order to add to our knowledge and the usefulness of this project we are seeking additional case studies from you.  We are looking for case studies that showcase the work that you are doing to help create sustainable and livable communities.  Consider submitting your case study today.  Submitting is easy – we’ve create a simple case study survey form for you to fill out!  Check it out today!