The Village Project: Smart Folks Championing Smart Growth
We have already covered a North Carolina project encouraging people to design their lifestyles around better transport options here, now we’ve come across a project that aims to make such choices easier. The Village Project is an organization offering advocacy, information and facilitation for designing more people friendly communities in Orange County, North Carolina.
We came across them after hearing board member Patrick McDonough speak at a local peak oil event. We were very impressed with his arguments for an overhaul of development ordinances in favor of dense, mixed-use, urban developments, rather than the current practice of separating building types according to use, therefore creating a car (and fossil fuel) dependent culture. Patrick pointed out that when many Americans picture urban density, they think Manhattan, but are surprised to learn that Venice, Italy, actually has an almost identical population density, yet is a much more people- and pedestrian-friendly community.
Patrick’s talk also referred to research analyzing transport patterns of residents in Southern Village, a mixed-use development in Chapel Hill that has been championed as a prime example of Smart Growth and New Urbanism, compared to residents in a similar non-mixed use neighborhood. Apparently, it was shown that residents in Southern Village drove an average of over 17 miles less per day than their counterparts.
Aside from giving talks at community events, the Village Project has worked on facilitation to make community planning more inclusive, and has developed a number of concept plans for Orange County neighborhoods with a view to encouraging more pedestrian-friendly development. We certainly support their cause, and would love to see The Village Project, and other similar groups, gaining a much stronger voice, not just in America, but across the world.