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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: February, 2017
Feb 23, 2017

Topic:

Sustainability and Economic Opportunity and Inclusion

In This Episode:

01:24 Co-host Kif Scheuer is introduced.
01:32 Julie Seward is introduced.
01:40 Julie shares how she became interested in working in resiliency, sustainability, and community equity.
03:14 Julie describes the biggest successes and the biggest challenges in the smart-growth movement.
05:23 Julie speaks about the subtopics and interconnected terms of the smart-growth movement and if there’s confusion for the public.
06:47 Julie comments on who is involved in the smart-growth movement and the roles they play.
08:28 Julie addresses challenging issues that go beyond jurisdictional boundaries.
10:41 Julie states how to weave together thriving-economy areas and non-thriving-economy areas of the country.
14:37 Kif mentions the economic imbalance of coastal urban areas, valuable resources we have under a stressed climate, and the “makers and takers” of the environment.
15:35 Julie expresses her thoughts on the future leaders who may be able to help shape the future
16:50 Mike adds to the discussion his opinion that the biggest need is for people to have equitable opportunity to participate in the economy.
18:29 Julie responds with her perspective on economic inclusion, urban economies, and the inflection point.

Co-Host:

Kif Scheuer joins the Infinite Earth Radio as the co-host for this episode. Kif Scheuer is the Climate Change Program Director at the Local Government Commission (LGC). Kif is a solution-oriented sustainability professional with a strong history of engaging diverse audiences in real-world climate protection efforts through innovative, market-focused research and analysis, creative program design, effective project implementation, and compelling public advocacy and education. In 2013 Kif organized the first California Adaptation Forum, which attracted over 800 attendees and served to kick start the statewide conversation on adaptation. Kif led the development and growth of one of the LGC’s key coalitions – the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation, a statewide network focused on addressing adaptation at the regional scale.

Guest:

Julie Seward is the Principal of Julia Seward Consulting. Julie is skilled at building the foundation for long-term initiatives and transforming strategies into actions. Her consulting work often involves finding solutions and promoting common goals and collaboration among highly diverse stakeholders. Julie’s particular areas of interest and experience include building sustainable communities through smart growth; creating and integrating state policy partnerships; and planning and orchestrating conferences and meetings that produce innovative outcomes.

Organization:

Julia Seward Consulting provides strategic planning, project management and implementation, and facilitation to national organizations, local, state, and regional governing bodies, community based organizations, foundations and consulting firms.

Take Away Quotes:

“The biggest success in the smart-growth movement, in fact, is there is a smart-growth movement that is understood, and smart growth is now a fairly accepted frame of reference for people. If you had asked people a decade ago what that means, certainly there are a core of people who would understand that, but many people would not have. I think there’s huge success and the…people that are involved in smart growth should really claim great credit for having really created something that has become a common word for people in the United States. Sustainability is now a part, I think, of the way most people think about the work they do—certainly not that way a decade ago—so I think in some ways that’s the greatest success is it’s become an integral part of the way people think about their lives.”

“Well, I think sometimes we even confuse ourselves. Yeah, I think in many people’s minds they [the interconnected terms of smart growth] are the same thing. I think that people assume that if you are a smart place, you are a resilient place, and that means not only do you deal with some type of disaster well but also do you deal with the stresses that are inside your communities. So, in my mind, I guess, when I hear the word resilience, I love the word itself—I think it sort of says what it is—but how that gets connected into and used in the same context of smart, I don’t think we clearly know. But many people would say smart growth is no longer, perhaps, the best way to describe what we’re about. So maybe resilience is becoming the way we describe that work in the future.”

“Equity is sort of a word that, as my father would have said, you can drive a truck through; it means many different things to many different people. But I think that people that are trying to work around equity issues now, a lot of that conversation is moving toward economic inclusion as a way they like to think about equity as we move forward. And to me there’s a great connector between that and sustainability and resilience, and how that’s something that is afforded to everyone and is that something that, in fact, can apply to all communities in an equitable way, because when you’re thinking about equity or economic inclusion, it’s just not about individuals; it really is about cities and towns…so that whole concept, I think, of economic inclusion becomes something that could, well, potentially certainly could cover a lot of that work that’s going on among all those actors.”

Resources:

2017 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference

Local Government Commission

Feb 15, 2017

Topic:

Serving Lower-Income Families Through Inclusionary Housing

In This Episode:

01:13 Co-host Kate Meis is introduced.
01:21 Sasha Hauswald is introduced.
01:30 Sasha shares how she ended up working on affordable-housing issues.
02:21 Sasha talks about some of the tools that cities are using to ensure that there is a supply of affordable housing so that families can stay together.
04:33 Sasha conveys her thoughts on challenges that municipalities have with providing affordable housing.
05:10 Sasha explains how inclusionary zoning is used.
06:42 Sasha states if there’s an incentive to the developer to include inclusionary housing.
08:33 Sasha elaborates if the impact of housing affordability is long term or short term.
10:28 Sasha discusses how one has to think of inclusionary housing differently in strong versus weaker up-and-coming markets.
16:13 Sasha addresses if there is anything else in the inclusionary zoning, beyond incentives to developers, that can incentivize more housing creation.
20:04 Sasha communicates why affordable housing should matter for those who already have housing.
22:47 Sasha comments on how policy decisions can favor or disfavor certain people.
24:32 Sasha gives advice on how smaller communities can get started on this conversation around affordable housing.
26:11 Mike mentions the importance for people to understand zoning and how that impacts housing prices.
27:20 Kate discusses the misalignment of the planning process with zoning codes.
28:20 Sasha shares how people can learn more about her work.

Guest/Organization:

Prior to serving as Director of State and Local Policy at Grounded Solutions Network, Sasha was Senior Program Officer at Cornerstone Partnership, where she led Cornerstone’s inclusionary housing engagements and activities. Before that, Sasha worked in at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development where she oversaw legislative affairs, strategic planning, and program evaluation projects as Public Policy manager.

Grounded Solutions Network is supporting strong communities from the ground up. We work nationally, connecting local experts with the networks, knowledge and support they need. Grounded Solutions Network helps promote housing solutions that will stay affordable for generations so communities can stabilize and strengthen their foundation, for good.

Take Away Quotes:

“I started off working in foster care, and a lot of the kids who I was looking after in foster care were trying to be reunited with their families, but their parents were not able to find housing. So their parents are dropped in shelters, and the kids are dropped in foster care, and I just realized that it was sort of an underlying issue that was keeping families apart.”

“[Kate] read a study that said that there isn’t a county anywhere in the nation that can fill all of its low-income-population need for affordable housing.”

“Now, places are finding that they have affordability challenges even for moderate-income workers, and it’s just become a problem that affects “normal people” in “normal places,” so it’s not just the super-hot markets or the extremely low income anymore.”

“There are, I’d say, ecological benefits, economic benefits, and social benefits. The ecological benefits are that if people have to drive really far from some very far out suburb into their job in the city, then, it’s polluting the air for all of us, and that’s something that isn’t just impacting that family that has to drive. If you’re empathetic, you might feel bad that they have to drive for two hours to get to their job, but, regardless… The economic benefit is that there are businesses that need employees of all wage levels everywhere, especially in job centers…so businesses need affordable housing in order to be able to survive because they need to be able to pay their workers a level that the business can actually feasibly make happen, given what their revenue stream looks like. The third reason, the social benefit, is that we know concentrated poverty leads to bad outcomes for kids, and if you have all of the kids who are of the lowest income all living together in a far out place, then we know that those kids are going to grow up to have poor academic achievement, poor economic outcomes, and poor health outcomes, which is bad, again, for our infrastructure, our hospitals, and our economy.”

Resources:

Grounded Solutions

Policy Link’s Equity Tools

National Low Income Housing Coalition

2017 New Partners for Smart Growth conference

Local Government Commission

Feb 9, 2017

In This Episode:

01:14 Erik Pages is introduced.
01:39 Erik talks about how he ended up focusing his work in economic development and entrepreneurship.
02:27 Erik supplies the keys to success of communities that have reinvented themselves.
03:38 Erik explains why his approach to economic recovery is not more widely used.
04:44 Erik shares an example of a community that’s been successful with his kind of economic-recovery approach.
05:28 Erik describes what a place-based approach is.
06:17 Erik provides an example of someplace in Coal Country that is taking the place-based approach.
07:14 Erik gives advice to those living in a community that needed to reinvent itself.
08:04 Erick makes known how to leverage the entrepreneurial talent that’s found in every community.
09:12 Erik states how communities can make themselves more resilient to economic changes.
10:53 Erik tells if it’s possible to build an economy that will keep people’s jobs since technology is replacing some jobs.
12:25 Erik shares his thoughts on the Trump administration’s objective of creating more jobs through better trade deals and a better tax structure.
13:49 Erik speaks to the opportunity of the coal economy coming back.
15:46 Erik expresses how people can help the people in Coal Country make an easier transition so that they might have more political support for an alternative-energy economy.
17:20 Erik proposes a national-level policy that would move our economy forward.
19:18 Erik shares if there is a need of a better system for re-training and job-transition programs.
19:55 Erik gives his suggestion that would allow easier and faster reinvention of communities.
20:43 Erik tells how people can learn more about his work and entrepreneurial economic development.

Guest:

Erik Pages is the President of EntreWorks Consulting, an economic development consulting and policy development firm focused on helping communities and organizations achieve their entrepreneurial potential.

Learn More About Erik

Organization:

Based in Arlington, VA, EntreWorks Consulting is an economic development consulting and policy development firm focused on helping communities, businesses, and organizations achieve their entrepreneurial potential. EntreWorks works with a diverse base of clients including state and local governments, Chambers of Commerce, business leaders, educational institutions, and non-profits. Since its founding, EntreWorks has worked with customers in forty states and overseas. EntreWorks Consulting works with communities, organizations, and civic leaders to design, implement, and promote innovative economic development strategies, policies, and programs. They help create and publicize the best of new thinking about community economic development. Their work is based on a belief that entrepreneurship in all its forms is the key to revitalizing our communities, ranging from the booming technology hot spots to distressed rural and urban communities.

Take Away Quotes:

“I think I come at entrepreneurship from a slightly different perspective of most people. I’m not one of these people that adores Bill Gates or adores Steve Jobs. I’m interested in entrepreneurship because I think it’s an economic-development strategy that’s available to all communities, unlike some other, say, high-tech-development strategy. So that’s why I’m a big fan of entrepreneurship, and I think it’s an economic-development strategy that can fit in almost any kind of community.”

“I do think that there’s a couple things that successful communities do. One is that they engage everybody in the community. It’s not just a handful of leaders doing it. The other thing—and this is really the biggest challenge for economic-development folks—is you need to, what we like to say is, hit for singles, not for home runs. Don’t try to replace all of the lost jobs in one fell swoop, because that’s not possible. Recovery from an economic shock takes time, and you have to be in there for the long haul, and you’ve got to rebuild yourself one job at a time. That’s the way to do it.”

“When we look at economic development, you could have a place-based strategy that tries to make a place better for business or for individuals, and we also have a people-based strategy where you provide education and training to people and give them the skills you want. Most of the programs that we have in the United States—public programs, at least—are people-based programs, primarily education and training programs. We don’t invest as much as we should in place-based programs that are trying to improve the quality of life in a place, that could improve the business prospects of a place so that every community, no matter where you live, you could have economic opportunity.”

Resources:

Infinite Earth Radio Episode 56: Autonomous Vehicles—The Future Much Sooner Than You Think, with Lisa Nisenson & Ryan Snyder

2017 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference

EntreWorks Consulting

Center for Rural Entrepreneurship

Kauffman Foundation

U.S. Economic Development Administration

National Association of Development Organizations

Feb 2, 2017

Topic:

The Shift in Demand for Walkable Urban Living

In This Episode:

01:16 Daniel Parolek is introduced.
01:53 Daniel tells about when he first knew that architecture and urban design were going to be what he would do for a living.
03:11 Daniel answers the question of, what is missing middle housing?
06:09 Daniel speaks of the transition to support the housing that would support more walkable communities.
08:15 Daniel addresses if it’s possible to create a more diverse mix of housing options in communities that are already built out.
10:32 Daniel identifies how to adapt building codes to allow for a more diverse mix of housing.
12:59 Daniel talks about using floor-area ratio in a residential context.
14:16 Daniel gives his thoughts on the affordability benefits of missing middle housing.
16:09 Daniel discusses the good response from builders and developers.
19:01 Daniel mentions if there’s been any work done on how a community’s finances are affected.
20:02 Daniel says where people can learn more about his work and more about missing middle housing.

Guest:

Daniel Parolek is a nationally recognized thought leader in architecture, design, and urban planning, specifically in terms of creating livable, sustainable communities and buildings that reinforce them. He is the founder and a Principle at Opticos – an architectural and urban design firm located in Berkeley CA.

Learn More About Daniel

Organization:

Opticos Design, Inc. is an award-winning multidisciplinary design firm founded in Berkeley, CA, that specializes in creating great places by revitalizing old ones and creating new pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods and cities by designing well-crafted traditional and classical architecture. They are recognized nationally as leaders in their field and have won various awards for their diverse work. Their designs emphasize the creation of vibrant, sustainable communities, comfortable pedestrian environments, and memorable places that will withstand the test of time. Opticos was named to B Lab’s “2013 B Corp Best for the Workers List,” honoring the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations in the world that have made a positive impact on their workforce.

Learn More About Opticos

Take Away Quotes:

“…actually, I wrote an essay when I was in sixth grade about wanting to be an architect, so I guess it was maybe between growing up in a really great, sort of vibrant community and also being let loose on my grandfather’s farm and having lots of time to build lots of cool forts out of stacked hay bales and treehouses and such, sort of, ultimately, ended up me having a real interest and passion for it.”

“[Missing Middle Housing] is the scale of housing in between single-family homes and sort of the four- and five-story apartment buildings, and it’s the duplex, it’s a fourplex, it’s a small-courtyard apartment or a bungalow court, that this range of housing types exist in every pre-1940’s neighborhood across the country. Some of them are usually mixed in with other, even, single-family homes, and they make up a really vibrant part of a community and provide housing choices in those places that they exist.”

“We’ve also been having great conversations with builders, builder’s who’ve historically built mostly single-family homes, that are realizing that they need to shift and add these missing middle housing types to their portfolios to respond to the shift in demand. Even apartment builders are starting to look at this as well.”

“What we find is a lot of our work is actually being hired by cities to go and fix their zoning codes, and a lot of times it entails writing a form-based code, which is just a different approach to it, and the biggest thing is we’ve created these, both, planning and zoning systems based on density, which is the number of dwelling units per acre, and just inherently, out of the starting gate, if you have a system that allows a certain number of dwelling units per acre, it is discouraging and creating an unlevel playing field for small units.”

Resources:

Keep up with the exciting happenings at the 2017 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference –happening February 2-4, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri!

Missing Middle Housing

Sign up for updates and more information about Missing Middle Housing from Opticos

Opticos Design

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