UDC hosts Sustainable DC Planning Meeting
On 28 September, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) held a meeting as part of ‘Start in September’ under Mayor Gray’s Sustainable DC initiative. Office of Planning staff, UDC staff, and concerned citizens gathered to discuss ideas about the attributes of a sustainable city in an effort to break down high-level concepts and bring them into our local context.
DC Office of Planning’s Laine Cidlowski presented the Sustainable DC initiative, describing the steps that DC will take to set a standard for the rest of the US. The first part of this process is to paint the picture of what a green, livable, and healthy city looks like; incorporating ideas and visions from the rich diversity of backgrounds that make up the tapestry of our city. Then, planning begins as we strive to recreate our city in a way that mimics the closed loop systems present in the natural world and increases equity, access, and opportunity for all.
This open discussion at UDC allowed participants to share their own visions and aspirations for the city and gave them an opportunity to listen to other residents with different perspectives. In small tables of 4-5 people, participants discussed three guiding questions:
- What are the attributes of a sustainable city?
- How does DC measure up to that vision of a sustainable city?
- How can we engage and energize the whole city around this sustainability plan?
Participants took notes on Post-It’s and drew ideas on papers in the middle of their tables. They also had a chance to report several ideas up to the front of the room to share with the whole group. The notes that follow are an attempt to synthesize the feedback we collected verbally and from the written ideas on the tables. We hope that attendees will read this, provide feedback, and contribute further ideas. We also hope that it’s useful to the Office of Planning and the DDOE as they work to develop DC’s city-wide sustainability strategy.
UDC will hold additional meetings in the future to develop these ideas further, so we invite everyone to join us and contribute!
Click here to see the results of the meeting.
Question 1: What are the attributes of a sustainable city?
The city is in sync with natural systems and all resources are valued.
- Design is informed by nature/works with nature
- Holistic thinking is present in all planning efforts
- Closed loop systems are present in design for buildings and infrastructure
- Nothing toxic/poisonous
- Climate, energy, and water are protected
- People are connected to nature
- People are weaned off of fossil fuel for transport
Our communities are diverse and supportive, and all residents have equitable access to all the benefits of the city.
- Personal or neighborhood responsibility
- Active community organizations
- People care for and respect others
- Diversity in age, race, culture, economics
- Access to vibrant parks and green space
- Access to quality education - the foundation for economic opportunity
- Access to sustainable jobs and opportunities
- Access to public transit
We have a resilient local economy.
- Locally grown food
- Local services
- Locally made goods
- Human capital - residents are trained and able to staff the local economy
Our leadership is innovative and strongly invested in sustainability.
- City government takes risks, learns from failure, and innovates
- Community leaders are invested in sustainability/have a strong vision
Question 2: How does DC measure up to that vision of a sustainable city?
From the conversation came the following suggestions for building on our strengths and addressing our weaknesses:
1) The city is in sync with natural systems and all resources are valued.
2) Our communities are diverse and supportive, and all residents have equitable access to all the benefits of the city.
3) We have a resilient local economy.
4) Our leadership is innovative and strongly invested in sustainability.
Question 3) How can we engage and energize the whole city around this sustainability plan?
Social Media Strategy
- Twitter meetings – Q&A between city officials and Tweeps
- Tweet ups
- Sustainable DC Foursquare Badge
Collect ideas outside of meetings
- Collect ideas on napkins, used envelopes, things with blank surface areas like toilet paper
- Suggestion boxes for sustainable DC at local businesses – maybe through Think Local First
- Collect ideas via text
- Bike rides
- Experimental circulator bus routes
- Give rebate for bottle recycling (5-10 cents)
- Make it FUN
- iPod giveaway at planning meetings
- Take the money the DC Office of Planning would use to hire a consultant and instead use it to pay businesses directly to participate.
Go to existing meetings and groups
- Churches/Religious networks/GWIPL/Creation Care
- ANC meetings – Mobilize the ANCs
- Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
- Rotary Club
- Lions Club
- Business orgs like AOBA
- Parents at playgrounds on Saturday mornings
Go to existing events
- Local sports venues
- Comedy shows
Get schools engaged
- Clubs (UDC Sustainability Club, UDC Garden Club)
- Put in school curriculum /better education on environmental issues
Showcase and encourage good examples
- Create competitions between schools
- Incentivize local business participation by holding competitions, giving awards for green practices
- Competitions between employees of small/large firms
- Action is motivating – bring the results of your own actions to the next meeting to share back with the group
- Shame bad behavior
- Lead by example, especially for city leadership
Reach all community members
- Have meetings whenever it makes sense in your community
- Don’t rush it based on the current planning process schedule (completion in April 2012)
- Switch the target demographic and recognize that kids are change agents
- Reach pockets, but also have a central place to bring ideas back together/find out about new events
Everybody must bring 2 new people to next meeting – if we keep doing this, we’ll eventually reach a critical mass