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Friday, February 22, 2013

DC's ambitious plan to become 'the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city' in the US [bettercities.net]


downtown Washington, DC (c2013 FK Benfield)
Earlier this week Washington, DC mayor Vincent Gray announced a bold sustainability vision that is as comprehensive and ambitious in its aspirations as any in the country and, frankly, worthy of comparison to those for other cities around the world.  If successful, the 20-year program contemplated by Sustainable DC will bring the benefits of green living to traditionally underserved neighborhoods, cut obesity, substantially increase the presence of nature in the city, grow jobs, dramatically cut energy use and carbon emissions, and much more.  If you’re not on board with these goals, then you just don’t care much about the urban environment.
In the US, the west coast cities of Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco have long led the way when it comes to environmental thinking and ambition.  More recently, Chicago, New York and especially Philadelphia have produced seriously impressive plans and programs.  I’ve even applauded terrific initiatives in El Paso and Rockland, Illinois.  DC has been flying under the radar on these issues.
But, actually, Washington has been building a praiseworthy green portfolio, step by step, without a lot of fanfare, for the last decade.  (I’ve reported on some examples, includingzoning reform, a wildlypopular bikesharing program, and tree planting.) 
DC has the country's most popular bikesharing program (courtesy of DC Dept of Transportation)







The new plan, which has been officially in the works for a year and a half, builds upon these efforts with something much bigger and certainly much more public.  The fanfare helps, in my opinion:  when you announce your intentions to the world, you put yourself in the position of having to deliver on them or produce good reasons why you didn’t.  That’s a good thing. [Keep reading at bettercities.net]

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