Sierra Club Supports Mixed Use Development Projects

Wall Street Journal recently reported that "The Sierra Club is well-known for trying to stop big real-estate-development projects. But in a move that could help it gain new allies, the nation's best-known environmental group is starting to go to bat for some builders". Lets make sure we understand this in context. A mixed use development is like a post-modern company town, with design elements that enable living, shopping, transit, working, and playing, all on a single site. The result, as they say, is "live, work, play" in one relatively high density place. Kind of like growing up in a small town with decent amenities: hopefully lots of green ones. The best in class mixed use developments offer links to mass transit, sometimes linking direct to regional bike and hike trails. Another common element is to start by reclaiming a chemically tainted "brownfield" site for which no other responsible parties exist. Now back to the story. "The...nonprofit organization says it expects to release this week its first "Guide to America's Best New Development Projects," an endorsement of mixed-use residential, commercial and retail developments in a dozen cities around the country"..."We are trying to be supportive of developers who are doing the right thing," said Eric Olson, Washington-based director of the Sierra Club's Healthy Communities Campaign. "We're also recognizing that you can't just be against things all the time. You have to be for things."

We recommend you look at the report from Sierra Club, as they take the time to lay out some subtle but important issues.

This story seems to suggest that after three decades of being "against" so many things, organized environmental activism is approaching a tipping point in strategy and philosophy. That's the most important point as far as we're concerned.

Occasionally readers will tell us in great detail why a topic we have chose to feature is "bad". Sometimes these comments produce great insights. On the other hand, thirty years of complaining about the "other side" is a hard habit to lose, even when a promising vision is right in front of us. So we count it as a coup that Sierra Club has chosen to mix it up with mixed use, saying what they're "for". When the Club prospectively does take issue with a development, investors, developers, and local authorities will be listening more closely. Makes it more difficult for WSJ to stereotype us TreeHuggers too.

Welcome to the future club.