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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities

Infinite Earth Radio is a weekly podcast produced by Skeo and the Local Government Commission and hosted by Mike Hancox and Vernice Miller-Travis. Each week they interview visionary leaders, dedicated government officials, savvy businesses and forward thinking individuals who are working to build smarter, more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities through social and economic inclusion that values the contribution of all citizens and seeks meaningful lives for everyone. You will discover new leading edge strategies for lifting up and building great 21st century communities, along with cutting edge strategies for revitalizing under resourced communities and empowering excluded populations. Smart Growth, Prosperity and Sustainability are not possible without social, civic, and economic inclusion for people of all economic, social, and racial backgrounds.
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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities
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Now displaying: January, 2016
Jan 28, 2016

Topic:
The Green Economy and Workforce Development

Guest:
Tyi Johnson is a graduate of the Green Energy Training Services (GETS) program at Rising Sun Energy Center and an employee of Community Energy Services Corporation. She also serves on Rising Sun Energy Center’s Board of Directors.Equitable Opportunity Radio Episode 013: From Unemployed Berkeley Dropout to Climate Change Warrior the Tyi Johnson and Rising Sun Energy Center Story

Organization:
The Smart Lights Program at Community Energy Services Corporation is designed to help small businesses become more energy-efficient. This program offers free start-to-finish technical assistance and instant rebates to help defray the cost of upgrading and/or repairing existing equipment. SmartLights can help with comprehensive lighting retrofits, refrigeration tune-ups, controls, and seals replacement, and referrals to appropriate HVAC programs.

Services include: a no cost and no obligation energy-efficiency assessment, instant rebates (typically range from 25%-75% of total project costs), negotiated volume pricing with qualified installation contractors, free start-to-finish project management and quality control, rebates paid directly to your contractor to help defray your out-of-pocket costs, and referrals to other energy efficiency programs as needed. See some of our work on cafes,auto repair shops, facilities, and retail stores.

Website – http://ebenergy.org/commercial-services/smart-lights-program/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Community-Energy-Services-Corporation-610255012322031

Take Away Quotes:
“After the internship ended, it was hard-going for me. This is when unemployment was at an all-time high… I stayed the course, I was meeting with my case-manager week after week. I really appreciate the fact that Rising Sun continued to collaborate with me and to encourage me and work with me until I was gainfully employed.”

“I feel like Rising Sun and the GETS program have put me in the prime position to be doing what I’m doing right now… I had three reasons why I joined GETS program: to learn about the green field, to learn about the energy efficiency field and by extension sustainability, and to learn how to save on my PG&E bill. And they did all three of those things for me. So it’s really great that I got all of those things, and got employed in the green energy efficiency field.”

“If I can empower others to be good stewards of this one great beautiful planet called Earth that we have, then I’ll do so, and I’m so appreciative of Rising Sun for setting me on that path.”

Jan 28, 2016

Topic:  
The Green Economy, Youth Employment and Workforce Development

Guest:  
Jodi Pincus is the Executive Director of Rising Sun Energy Center and a recognized expert in the green economy, youth employment, social enterprise and workforce development.

Organization:  
Rising Sun Energy Center is a green workforce development and energy retrofit services organization working throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Their mission is to empower individuals to achieve environmental and economic sustainability for themselves and their communities. Rising Sun Energy Center runs three programs, which include the California Youth Energy Services (CYES), Leaders-in-Field-Training (LIFT) and Green Energy Training Services (GETS). The CYES program includes summer and after-school programs that train and employ young adults ages 15 to 22 to provide no-cost Green House Calls (energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades) to homes in their community. The LIFT program gives top employees in Rising Sun’s CYES program peer leadership roles and teaches business and leadership skills. The GETS program is a pre-apprenticeship training program that prepares adults for careers in construction, energy efficiency, and the solar industry.

Website – http://www.risingsunenergy.org/
Blog – https://risingsunenergy.wordpress.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/risingsunenergycenter
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RisingSunEC

Take Away Quotes:
“We believe that you can’t solve climate change without addressing unemployment.”

“Our youth, not only are they earning money and feeling a sense of purpose by doing the work but they’re gaining a lot of self-confidence, self-esteem; they’re going on to careers in business, social service, and environmental science.”

“This wonderful young man… he was in the foster care system… he came out of prison and into our job training program, and he had never graduated from anything in his life, and he graduated from our program.”

Additional Resources:
Rising Sun Energy Center’s Best Green Resources
Rising Sun Energy Center’s California Youth Energy Services (CYES)
Rising Sun Energy Center’s Green Energy Training Services (GETS)
Rising Sun Bright Night 2015 (Participants of the California Youth Energy Services and Green Energy Training Services programs explain what Rising Sun means to them, and how it has affected their lives.)

Jan 28, 2016

Topic:
Renewable Energy


In This Episode:
1:17 Mike introduces Tom Butt, Mayor of Richmond, CA.
2:06 Why was Chevron motivated to defeat Tom?
3:29 How the refinement project, Community Power and City Action: Solar Farming in the Refineries Backyard, came into existence.
6:13 What type of emissions impact will Richmond’s solar farm have on the city and surrounding cities?
7:55 How will the Environmental Benefits Agreement improve the lives of local citizens?
9:29 Tom discusses the holistic approach they took when developing the Environmental Benefits Agreement.
11:25 Tom shares advice to other community leaders who are looking to bring more sustainable energy to their city.
14:57 Tom discusses how Richmond successfully built strong relationships between the police department and low income communities of color.
17:29 What role did the Richmond police chief play in the positive response of the local Black Lives Matter movement?
18:08 How can others learn more about what Richmond is doing with the refinement project.
18:54 What one change would Tom implement to improve the future?
20:00 What action would Tom recommend that listeners take to make a difference?
20:25 What will Richmond look like 30 years from now if Tom’s plans are successful?

Guest:
Tom Butt is a 20-year member of the Richmond, California City Council, and was elected to a four-year term as mayor in 2014. He serves on the board and is vice-chair of Marin Clean Energy (MCE), a Community Choice Aggregation joint powers authority serving parts of four California counties.


Take Away Quotes:
“Statistically, people who come from low income neighborhoods don’t live as long, they don’t have as good health as people who live in wealthier neighborhoods. I think this example of the 50% local hire rule and training people from low income neighborhoods in Richmond be proficient in the solar industry and to find jobs in that is a way of essentially ultimately improving their health.”

“Well, the big thing here really is getting control of your future. Once you can control your future, whether it is in energy or whether it is in agriculture or whether it is in heath or whatever, then you have an opportunity to make it better because you are no longer subject to somebody else’s decision making.”

“About 80-85% of electricity users have chosen to stay with Marin Clean Energy. The way it’s set up, it’s an opt-out system, so once the city decides to make that change over then everybody gets changed over automatically unless they decide not to.”

“This is an example of how people can get control of their destiny.”

Resources:
https://newpartners.org/2016/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Equitable-Development-Brochure_NPSG16.pdf

Jan 19, 2016

Topic:
Providing local food to the local community


Guests:
Stacey Givens is the farmer, chef and owner of The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen in Northeast Portland, Oregon’s Cully Neighborhood. Givens grows diverse organic produce for Portland’s top restaurants and provides food, education and opportunity to her community. Givens was raised the youngest of seven children in a large Greek family in Redondo Beach, California where she was instilled with do-it-yourself values from a young age, farming in their backyard garden and small orchard, foraging with her mom, picking and brining olives and helping prepare large Greek family-style suppers. Givens has been in the food industry since age 15. She worked her way up the West Coast, including at the nationally acclaimed Millennium in San Francisco, before landing in Portland in 2006. Givens established The Side Yard Farm in 2009. The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen currently consists of several urban farm lots maintained by Givens and her team, a farm-to-table private catering company, and the ‘Nomadic Chef’ supper club where she features her urban-grown goods. Givens also organizes invaluable community services at The Side Yard like DIY workshops, grief support groups and kids camps. While The Side Yard has a hyperlocal focus, Givens’ drive to build a strong community and make lasting connections with talented and passionate people is globally-minded, traveling around the world to meet fellow organic farmers and chefs. In 2014, Givens was the recipient of Portland’s Local Hero award in the chef category, and continues to give back to the community she loves through volunteerism and her indispensable work at The Side Yard. In 2015, she competed on the Foodnetwork’s ‘Chopped’ and brought home the win for Portland.

Stacey Givens Twitter
https://twitter.com/thesideyardpdx

Organization:
The Side Yard is an urban farm, supper club and catering company located in the NE Cully Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Since 2009 they have provided local restaurants with creative organic produce and the community with food, education and opportunity. The farm is largely operated by volunteers and interns who gain hands on experience with the urban seed to plate movement. The Side Yard offers urban farm suppers & brunches, private catering, nomadic pop-ups, educational DIY workshops, farm tours and grief groups. Their focus is to provide local food for the local community, from the seeds they sow, animals they raise, and to the craftsmanship they embrace.

 

Take Away Quotes:
“It’s all about the experience of seed to plate. All of that was harvested the day before, the day of. You can just taste the freshness and that connection of hyper local.”

“After I lost my father I decided I’m done with going to grief groups in hospitals- why not have one at the farm. It’s such a beautiful place and I think it’d be easier for people to share the loss of their loved one…and we just become this big ole family.”

“I hope that what we’re doing is we’re teaching people that being local is really important, being organic is extremely important, and I guess that’s what I would hope for is that we’re doing our job educating people and bringing them closer to their food.”


Resources:
The Side Yard
http://www.thesideyardpdx.com/


Presidio Graduate School
http://www.presidio.edu

 

Jan 19, 2016

Topic:
Decreasing Food Waste Through the Real Good Produce Program

Guests:
Megan Burritt is Raley’s Supermarkets Director of Wellness and Sustainability. Passionate about creating sustainable food systems and bringing good, clean food to the everyday American, Meg has lived every link in the food chain, from working on the farm to line cooking to category management. Meg attended Stanford as an undergrad, majoring in Human Biology, and is a graduate of Presidio Graduate School where she obtained an MBA in Sustainable Management. As a 2014 First Movers Fellow with the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, Meg continues to learn and grow as an innovator. First Movers is a group of exceptional innovators in business who are creating new products, services and management practices that achieve greater profitability and positive social and environmental impacts. Meg lives in beautiful Curtis Park, Sacramento where she enjoys baking, riding bikes and spending time with her veterinarian wife, Amanda, and their family of rescue animals. Twitter - https://twitter.com/misskeen LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/meganburritt

Organization:
Raley's Supermarkets (also known as Raley's Family of Fine Stores) is a privately held, family-owned, regional grocery chain that operates stores under the Raley's, Bel Air Markets, Nob Hill Foods, and Food Source names in northern California and Nevada. Raley’s operates 128 stores, 40 of them in the Greater Sacramento area and employs around 13,400 workers today. Headquartered in West Sacramento, California, Raley's is the dominant supermarket operator in the Sacramento metropolitan area.

Take Away Quotes:
“Up to 40% of the food that we grow here in America is often wasted before it gets to the consumer. That’s the high end of the statistic, but it really is mind boggling when you think about that much food that we’re putting resources into growing, that isn’t getting into the hands of people who would like to eat it.”

“At Raley’s we do still have some produce waste because some of it just goes off while it’s waiting to be purchased at the grocery store. And we actually divert from the landfill. We send all of our produce waste to an anaerobic bio-digester where it becomes essentially compost and then natural gas energy.”

“We are used to selling only one type of very perfectly shaped, sized, and colored fruits and vegetables in conventional grocery stores. So to go out here with this what people sometime call “ugly produce” we were taking a little bit of a risk. But we did see a really positive reception with our consumers that they understand that every fruit and vegetable is unique and it’s still nutritious and delicious no matter what it looks like.”

“People don’t realize that the food sector is the largest producer of greenhouse gasses of all our sectors, including transportation. So if you have an industry that’s wasting 40% of its effort, there’s this huge opportunity to reduce waste, to reduce environmental impacts, to reduce greenhouse gas impacts, at the same time reduce food costs [and] deal with issues of food insecurity. So across the board it’s just vitally important work.”

Resources:
Aspen Institute

http://www.aspeninstitute.org

Aspen Institute - First Movers Fellowship Program

http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/business-society/corporate-programs/first-movers-fellowship-program

Raley’s Supermarkets

http://www.raleys.com/www/home.jsp

PBS News Hour Video on Food Waste

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/almost-half-americas-food-go-waste/

Presidio Graduate School

http://www.presidio.edu

 

Jan 19, 2016

Topic:
Taking a Look at Food Insecurity

Guest:
Sharon Thornberry is the Community Food Systems Manager at the Oregon Food Bank. Sharon has been a grassroots organizer, trainer and advocate for community food systems, rural communities, and anti-hunger work in Oregon since 1986. She grew up on farms, was very active in 4-H and Girl Scouts, and was one of the first female members of Future Farmers of America. In 1979, she was a homeless mom with two small children. Sharon has served on the Oregon Hunger Task Force for 16 years, the board of the Community Food Security Coalition for six years (three as President), and the board of Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute for six years. The sum of her experiences have come together to make her a passionate and knowledgeable community food security and anti-hunger advocate. She is the 2009 recipient of the Billi Odegard Public Health Genius Award from the Community Health Partnership of Oregon. She has worked for Oregon Food Bank for the past 16 years focusing on rural food systems and is the creator of “FEAST”, the nationally recognized community food systems organizing program. She has been a resident of Philomath, Oregon for 30 years. She is an avid gardener and loves to share the cooking traditions learned in the farm kitchens of her youth with friends and family.

Sharon Thornberry Twitter
https://twitter.com/ofb_sharont


Organization:
Oregon Food Bank collects and distributes food through a network of four Oregon Food Bank branches and 17 independent regional food banks serving Oregon and Clark County, Washington. Along with approximately 970 partner agencies, they help nearly one in five households fend off hunger. They work to address the root causes of hunger by offering nutrition education, strengthening local food systems, collaborating with community groups, and advocating for hunger relief at the local and federal level.

Take Away Quotes:
“The statistics say that rural hunger is not as bad as urban hunger, I think people in rural communities are less likely to admit they’re hungry too. There’s a lot of pride that goes with living in rural communities.”

“There aren’t equal opportunities for everybody and there’s a lot of deniers that say that all of this stuff is made up. But I’m here to tell you it’s not made up. We don’t think about the challenges of access. People with small children are the most financially insecure. Salaries have not kept up with the cost of living in this country.”

“We’re leaving a lot of kids in a really bad place because it’s impossible for their parents to have a living wage, especially in rural communities. There’s a whole systemic thing that we need to look at and figure out how we solve it as a country.”

“Just think: the food banks across this country, there are hundreds of feeding american food banks, there are thens of thousands of food pantries across this country, they all have volunteers. If those folks had taken even a fraction of the hours they’ve taken handing out food and been saying to the powers that be: to congress, to their state senators, to their state legislators, even to their county commissioners, “This is wrong, we have to do this differently,” what do you think the picture would be? I think we’d be in a different space?”

“It’s about keeping the discussion going, and people having success, and supporting small farmers. You can’t do enough to do that. Go out there and get to know your small farmer, find out what their issues are, and find out how you can help them stay in business.”

Resources:

Oregon Food Bank
http://www.oregonfoodbank.org

Presidio Graduate School
http://www.presidio.edu

Jan 19, 2016

Topic:
Local Food Systems

In This Episode:
2:48 Laura explains the mission at The Center for Regional Food Systems
3:16 What is the Food and Community project?
9:43 The importance of creating local food systems
12:30 Laura defines food justice and sovereignty
15:30 What motivates Laura?
17:52 New Partners Pre-Conference Food System Activities
20:55 Learn more about The Center for Regional Food Systems
21:40 The one change Laura would like to see to lead to better food systems
22:34 Actions that listeners can take to build a more sustainable food future
22:53 30 years from now: how Laura sees the future of food systems

Guest:
The Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) engages the people of Michigan, the United States and the world in developing regionally integrated, sustainable food systems. CRFS extends MSU’s pioneering legacy of applied research, education and outreach by catalyzing collaboration among the diverse range of people, processes and places involved in regional food systems. Our vision is a thriving economy, equity and sustainability for Michigan, the country and the planet through food systems rooted in local regions and centered on food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.

Laura Goddeeris, AICP, is a Specialist at CRFS and coordinates outreach engaging national organizations in improving food systems and community environments, linking ground-level efforts and national stakeholders to inform policy and systems change. She is particularly focused on exploring opportunities for local governments to support regional food systems. As a part of this work, she has partnered with the Local Government Commission to develop a series of pre-conference workshops on healthy, equitable food systems in conjunction with the annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference. Laura’s background includes more than a decade of experience in research, outreach, and program administration around issues of economic development, community and social equity, and transportation planning, much of it within the context of food systems. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is a graduate of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy Emerging Leaders Program.


Take Away Quotes:
“Access to good food, food that’s healthy, green, fair and affordable, I think it’s also important to note culturally appropriate, really should be a basic human right that is available to all of us regardless of differences in race, in gender, in ethnicity, in class, all of those things. But the idea of food justice exists because there are all these structural inequities in our food system that impede that access and they are often tied to those differences. So, I see food justice as a lens that we can apply to our efforts to work toward more equitable systems. Food Sovereignty refers to the idea that communities hold the power to determine what a just food system looks like. And I think you will most often hear about that in the context of communities that have been disenfranchised by the food system in the past.”


"I think it's important for communities to try and foster conversations about what people need and want in their community. I don't think there is a one size fits all approach for how to incorporate, even just urban agriculture in all cities, it's really place specific and as you mentioned before, the shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy, think about how that has played out in Detroit and now you have this urban agriculture movement, but some people don't want to see a city like that shift back in that direction, but some people think its great. So, we really need to continue to have some dialogue about what are the needs and what are the opportunities."
"I was realizing how food systems really drew, or cut across a lot of areas that were interesting to me, including community development and economic development and also environmental issues and sustainability and so any time I had the freedom to pick an area to do more research in, it was always food systems, even though that wasn't a focus of my program's curriculum."

Resources:
http://FoodSystems.msu.edu
http://Facebook.com/MSUCRFS
http://Twitter.com/MSUCRFS
http://NewPartners.org

Jan 19, 2016

Topic: 

Intertwined Crises in America


In This Episode:
2:48 Manual talks about his background and motivation.
4:05 Spacial, political and intellectual segregation in America
5:57 Manual talks about the tree big crises in the US.
9:23 Diverse Dynamic Epistemic Communities
11:58 Examples of where these communities have come together
17:02 The key to economic growth
23:28 One change that would lead to better communities
24:08 One action listeners can take to build a better future
24:17 What does the world look like 30 years from now?

Guests:
Dr. Manuel Pastor is Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC), where he also serves as the Director of USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and Co-Director of USC’s Center for the Study on Immigration Integration. He is the author of multiple books, including most recently, Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas, which he co-authored with Chris Benner from UC Santa Cruz.

 

Take Away Quotes:
“We are in a place where people don't agree on the basic facts. An epistemic communities are about creating opportunities for people to know together so they can grow together. The thing that we sort of left out in this book is that it's important for them to be diverse and dynamic. You can't be surrounded simply by like-minded or like-raced people. You need to make sure that who is at the table is coming from different sectors, different communities, et cetera to be able to understand what it is that weaves us together and where our mutual interests lie.”

“It's basically a nerd fest. We consider ourselves to be nerds for social justice and we did this for a couple of different reasons. Essentially, it was born when Angela Glover Blackwell and I—she's the head of PolicyLink—were at a meeting at the White House and we realized that while we had pretty good ideas about what to do, few people were paying attention because we didn't have the kind of data that we needed behind the ideas. This created a way to sort of democratize data.”

"Making sure that people understand that there is more than one leverage point; that we need to move the needle on multiple things at the same time; that we need to make sure that people are reentering from the criminal justice system successfully; that we are dealing with immigration reform. We are dealing with gender inequality. We need to get away from the idea that there is a silver bullet for our problems."


Resources:
National Equity Atlas Tool
http://NationalEquityAtlas.org

Jan 19, 2016

Topic:
Smart growth and Sustainability in Communities in the US


In This Episode:
3:30 Kate explains her passion for her work with the Local Government Commission.
5:37 Matt talks about his motivation to start at The Office of Sustainable Communities.
8:08 The impact that the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference has had over the years.
11:43 What does the Office of Sustainable Communities do for the EPA?
14:33 How does the Smart Growth and Sustainability Act affect how we make community decisions now?
15:50 Where we are now, and where do we need to go?
23:02 One change that Kate and Matt would make.
24:49 Action steps for listeners to take to help their communities.
26:45 What will our country and communities look like 30 years from now?
29:15 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference Information

Guests:
Kate Meis has served as the Executive Director of the Local Government Commission (LGC) since 2013. Since assuming directorship, her focus has been to strengthen partnerships and capacity to serve a growing number of community leaders across the state and the nation. Kate is a champion for local governments, a catalyst of early local climate change adaptation, mitigation and clean energy efforts, and an ardent coalition builder. Under Kate’s leadership LGC has become a forerunner on climate change – advancing the first California Adaptation Forum, developing a new Governor’s Initiative CivicSpark capacity building program and providing fiscal and staffing support for the new Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation. Kate is driven by the belief that given the right tools and partners people will innovate to improve their communities and respond to pressing challenges. Her unique background in agricultural research, social work, alternative transportation and community development has helped her to establish a rich network of partners and an integrated approach to assisting local governments.

Matthew Dalbey is the Director of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities. The Office of Sustainable Communities (OSC) collaborates with other US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs; federal agencies; regional, state, and local governments; and a broad array of nongovernmental partners to help communities become stronger, healthier, and more sustainable through smarter growth, green building, green infrastructure and related strategies. OSC leads EPA’s participation in the interagency (HUD-DOT-EPA) Partnership for Sustainable Communities, as well as EPA’s cross-Agency focus on Making a Visible Difference in Communities. This work is integral to EPA’s priorities of improving air quality, addressing climate change, protecting America’s waters, cleaning up our communities and promoting environmental justice.

Take Away Quotes:
“The trajectory of growth that we all relied on for generations is not there any longer fundamentally all across this country we are trying to reinvent our economy there are places that have done better since the great recession and there are many places that have not yet begun to move forward. And I think the big challenge for all of us that are working in the smart growth, sustainable communities, environmental justice space is how do we work in our communities to help reinvent the economies that are not the economies of the 20th century but are the economies of the 21st century. I don’t know what that is going to look like but we need to figure it out because the trajectory of growth is just not there any longer. We have to work on economic development in every single one of our communities. We have to become good stewards of not only the environment but the economy in our communities right now. And I think it is a great space for all of us to move into as we continue to work together going forward.”
“For the past 6 years, what I am most proud of, and as an organization, we're most proud of--and working with partners like you Bernice and Matt, and all of the other partners across the nation--is that we've been able to make equity and environmental justice a core of the programing at the conference. I think that has been a huge necessity and it's really shaped the dialog, and evolved the dialog in some really important ways. Lastly, we’ve been able to not just bring people together but we’ve seen tangible results in the communities, and that’s really what this is all about. “

“If stakeholders in communities could spend some time envisioning what our communities will be looking like in the next 20 or 30 years, have a vision of that, even if it's in someone's mind or you could write it down, or draw a picture of it. Spend some time thinking about what you want your community to look like in the next 20 years and stick with it. Then, see what are the pieces that need to be pulled together in order to get there and the pieces have to be thought of very very broadly.”

Resources:
New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, Portland, Oregon February 11 - 13
http://newpartners.org

Local Government Community
http://LGC.org
 

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