Monday, 23 October 2017

New Website Helps Communities Build ‘Good’ Local Economies: Online Toolkit Shows How Economic Development Can be Driven by Communities Rather Than Imposed From Above

by the New Economics Foundation:

A new website will help councils and community organisations to build ‘good’ local economies.
Launched by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies and the New Economics Foundation, with funding from the Friends Provident Foundation, it brings together case studies from across the UK on housing, finance, energy, procurement and commissioning, and local economics.
Called ‘Building a Good Local Economy’, the website sets out the powers and resources currently available to both local government and local communities to help them improve local housing provision, build up local energy supplies and create a thriving local economy.
Building a Good Local Economy website
Building a Good Local Economy website
Case studies include Homebaked, a bakery in the shadow of Liverpool football club that has become a model of community-led regeneration, and Manchester and Preston Councils’ work using local procurement budgets to build community wealth.
The website is part of the Good Local Economies programme, run by CLES and NEF for the last two years, which this year has worked with five cities – Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol and Leeds – to help them activate and model new approaches to local economic development.
The website aims to become a comprehensive database of projects across the UK that are challenging the dominant approach to local development. If you would like your project to be included, contact Clare Goff.

Monday, 16 October 2017

U.S. Mayors Agree that Everyone Needs a Great Park Within a 10-Minute Walk: Non-profits, 134 Mayors Launch National 10-Minute Walk to a Park Campaign

by Adrian Benepe, Children and Nature Network:


Children play in a schoolyard converted to a community playground in Philadelphia.

At a time when Americans are fractured by politics and policies, there is one thing
most of us agree on and which has broad, bi-partisan support—convenient access
to a high quality park.
Today, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) launched the
10-Minute Walk to a Park Campaign with the support of 134 mayors from cities 
across America and from both sides of the political aisle. These mayors signed on during the past year, endorsing the goal of providing every neighborhood with a 
quality park that improves life for city residents, serves as a safe place for people to gather, and adds to the beauty of the city.
Great parks are one of the anchors of healthy, sustainable communities and vibrant American cities. Today, more than 85 percent of the US population lives either in a
city or a suburb, and the research is clear that close-to-home parks boost the
wellbeing of entire neighborhoods. Parks play vital roles in enhancing
environmental sustainability, absorbing carbon and other air pollutants, lowering temperatures, and capturing storm water runoff. They are also crucial to public 
health—data show that when people live near parks they exercise more. Parks also enhance property values, and create community cohesion by bringing diverse
people together in social settings. Cities that invest in parks and open spaces are directly benefiting local residents and their physical and mental health by creating
life-enhancing ways to get outdoors and be active.
In cities across America, mayors and park directors are working with other elected officials, citizens, and non-profit partners to come up with visionary ways to pay for
new parks, and improve existing parks.
For example, the city of Houston has made a bold and ambitious goal to increase
the number of residents who live within a 10-minute walk of a park from 48 percent
to 75 percent by 2040. To do this, they have made improved access part of its
official park master plan. Working with a non-profit partner known as Spark Parks,
city officials are identifying scores of schoolyards that could be converted into community parks. Likewise, in hundreds of cities across the country, underused schoolyards represent the “low-hanging fruit”—land already owned by the city,
possibly not even needing major improvement—just the stroke of a policy pen to
make them “joint-use’ facilities and creating more nearby outdoor spaces for tens of millions of Americans.


Matthys Elementary School Park in Houston, newly renovated and opened to the community through the SPARK Parks program.

In Los Angeles County last year, residents approved Measure A, which will
generate at least $1.8 billion—$100 million a year, indefinitely—for new and
improved parks across the county. In Boston, voters also last year approved a
Community Preservation Act measure that will generate $20 million for the same 
cause, and New York City has allocated $300 million to renovate 70 small parks and playgrounds in under-served areas. In Minneapolis and San Francisco (which 
recently became the first city in America where 100 percent of its residents have a 
park within 10-minute walk), park leaders worked with community residents and 
local leaders to solve equity problems, and to make sure everyone, regardless of income or race, has access to high quality parks. Both cities have set aside large amounts of funding to ensure equitable park quality.


San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announces that his city is the first to have 100% of its residents within a 10-minute walk of a park at an event in Hilltop Park.

So, where did the “10-minute walk” idea come from? For several decades, city
planners and social scientists have measured distances people will travel on foot to basic services such as shopping, schools, or transit. They concluded that half a
mile is about as far as people will reasonably walk. Though walking speeds vary,
the U.S Department of Transportation agrees that most people can walk a half-mile
in 10 minutes.
Nearly 17 years ago, at an all-staff gathering of The Trust for Public Land, Will
Rogers, who still serves as the organization’s President, talked about headlines he hoped to see in the next decade. One of those headlines was his prediction that the NRPA and US Conference of Mayors would join TPL in working to ensure that no
one lived “more than a 10-minute stroller ride from a park or playground.” A few
years later, in an article penned for the American Planning Association Journal in
2004, Peter Harnik documented cities that had standards for how far residents 
should have to walk to get to a nearby park. Harnik, then Director of The Trust for 
Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, found that most cities had no 
standards, and those that did ranged from a tenth of a mile to a mile, with about half having a half-mile as the standard.

A year later, Jack T. Linn, Assistant Commissioner in the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, developed a new standard for the ideal walking distance to a 
park. He determined that it should be measured in time, not distance, and proposed
that every New Yorker should have a park or playground within a 10-minute walk.
As a centerpiece of PlaNYC’s park and environment program, the Mayor called for converting 250 part-time, asphalt schoolyards into full-time community playgrounds,
used by schools during school hours but available to neighborhood residents after school and on weekends. That move, accompanied by $150 million to improve the playgrounds, led to a 15 percent increase in the number of New Yorkers who had a
park or playground within a 10-minute walk.


The old asphalt schoolyard at La Cima Charter School in Brooklyn, NY was converted by The Trust for Public Land to a green community playground that also captures stormwater runoff.

Last June, the US Conference of Mayors (USCM) validated Will Rogers’ prediction
by officially endorsing the 10-Minute walk in a resolution introduced at its national gathering. The USCM resolution said, in part “that the United States Conference of Mayors supports the goal for cities to increase the number of people in urban
America who live within a 10-minute walk of a high-quality park; that the [USCM] will celebrate mayors that make quality parks and access to them a first-tier solution to
their municipal challenges; and that the [USCM] supports investments in parks and
open spaces with the goal for everyone in urban American to live within a 10-minute walk of a high-quality park.”
There was another major challenge for the 10-Minute Walk partners when they
launched the campaign nearly three years ago: How could they know how many
people had 10-minute walk access to a park in the 14,000 communities within the
3,000 areas defined as “urban” by the U.S. Census Bureau? The answer came in
TPL’s award-wining Geographic Information Systems (GIS) unit, which created ParkServe, an effort to find and map all the parks in those 14,000
communities, and then to figure out how many lived within or outside of the
10-minute walk “service areas” of those parks. Working with the help of Esri, the
world’s leading GIS mapping company, and using their Network Analyst software,
they are tracing the street network to determine if and how someone could walk to a park—without encountering barriers such as freeways, rivers and canals, or railroad tracks.
ParkServe, now underway for two and a half years, has already surveyed 7,600 of
the 14,000 communities, encompassing 67 percent of the U.S. population. Based
on preliminary analysis, they estimate that as many as 150 million Americans may
not have a park within a 10-minute walk. ParkServe is also generating the nation’s
first-ever database of urban parks and providing tools that city officials and citizens
alike can use to help identify park deserts and the best ways to add green oases.
So now that the campaign is officially launched, and is supported by 134 mayors,
how do we close that gap for so many Americans?
First, the three partners, TPL, NRPA, and ULI, working with other non-profit organizations, will engage with mayors and cities to deploy tools and strategies to
help them increase access to new parks and improve existing parks, building on successful models and strategies already in place. TPL and ULI experts in
conservation and urban park finance are working with cities to identify both
traditional and new sources of funding for park creation and improvement, from
voter measures and bonds to tax-increment financing and social impact bonds. ULI
will use its 51 regional councils to work with local leaders and deploy advisory
panels representing developers, planners, financiers, economists, and public
officials to provide practical and objective advice to cities.
The campaign soon will launch a competitive grant program, challenging cities to
come up with innovative approaches to adding and improving parks. This program
will build on traditional NRPA strengths in research on best practices, case studies,
and comprehensive data, including its Safe Routes to Parks program, to help make
the case for expanded park funding.
So, with all this effort and energy, Americans in cities and suburbs across the
country may soon have close-to-home access to the aspect of city life that may
best define quality of life: a high-quality, green, and safe park for all to enjoy.