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Not So Big Community and New Urbanism

The unfortunate, run away growth of housing developments across the country is causing some soul-searching in many fields. In urban planning there's a growing interest in making places that put a sense of community high on the list of desirable attributes. The movement, known both as New Urbanism, and Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND), aim to create housing developments that embody some of the spirit of older neighborhoods. They feature narrower streets and sidewalks that encourage people to get to know their neighbors, front porches, corner stores, and plenty of mature trees to make the place feel rooted, as though it's been there for a while.

As with the Not So Big House, New Urbanists have looked back to the precedents of the past to understand what features of these old towns and villages we are missing today. Similarly too, much of what they're learning has to do with scale, proportion, and inter-relationship. Proponents of The Not So Big House have recognized a resonance with the objectives of New Urbanism. The two are natural companions, and both offer hope to those longing for the timeless, more soulful quality that an older home and an older neighborhood can have.

New Urbanism

Better! Cities & Towns
The New Urbanism is the most talked about trend in planning and community design in the last decade, and New Urban News is the only publication devoted exclusively to providing detailed, substantial news and analysis of this trend.

Congress for the New Urbanism
The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society's built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.

The Town Paper
A bimonthly, small-format newspaper published out of Kentlands, Md., New Towns focuses on traditional neighborhood developments in the U.S. and Canada, and the cultural, political, financial, and global forces that affect their form and function. Issues include neighborhood profiles, updates on post-Katrina rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast, feature articles that focus on major development trends, and more. The website also includes a list of most of the new urban and traditional neighborhood developments around the country, allowing people to search by state for communities in their area.

LEED for Neighborhood Development
The LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development's location and design meet accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development. Currently in its pilot period, LEED for Neighborhood Development is a collaboration among USGreen Building Council, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

CNU Project Database
Congress for the New Urbanism also has a project database that allows you to search for communities by keyword.

The Smart Growth Network
In 1996, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joined with several non- profit and government organizations to form the Smart Growth Network (SGN). The Network was formed in response to increasing community concerns about the need for new ways to grow that boost the economy, protect the environment, and enhance community vitality.

Habersham is one of the New Urban developments referred to in Creating the Not So Big House. (See chapter entitled Southern Comfort on page 170). Its sister development, Newpoint, is my favorite new urban community in the country. If you have a chance to visit Beaufort, South Carolina, I'd strongly recommend a visit to both these communities. They provide a vision of what's possible when developer, builders and architects work together to create a real sense of neighborhood.

Traditional Neighborhood Design: New Urbanism
Rather than shopping centers, office parks, industrial parks, and housing developments, we need old- fashioned neighborhoods, where people can walk. This page lists groups working for Traditional Neighborhood Design.

NEW URBANISM is the most important planning movement this century, and is about creating a better future for us all. It is an international movement to reform the design of the built environment, and is about raising our quality of life and standard of living by creating better places to live.

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