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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: March, 2017
Mar 30, 2017

Topic:

Climate Change and Putting a Price on Carbon

In This Episode:

01:10 Carbon series co-host Michael Green is introduced.
01:40 Michael shares what he hopes to bring to this podcast series.
02:22 Mike shares his excitement for sustainability and equity at the sub-national level.
02:48 Michael tells about CABA’s (Climate Action Business Alliance) expansion efforts to help state-based networks.
03:31 Mike mentions the list of diverse topics that he and Michael have come up with for this new series and introduces what today’s episode will be about.
04:32 Michael conveys his thoughts regarding the Republican party’s view on climate change.
05:01 Mike describes the carbon tax proposal.
06:44 Michael gives his view on the carbon tax proposal.
08:03 Mike states his thoughts of the conversation that upcoming episodes should have.
08:28 Catrina Rorke is introduced.
08:58 Catrina tells about R Street.
10:44 Catrina elaborates on carbon pricing.
11:24 Michael agrees with carbon pricing and says that they will be talking about what to do with the revenue.
11:49 Catrina answers the question of whether carbon pricing and the idea of putting a market signal on an externality is a conservative idea.
13:06 Catrina speaks about the idea of a direct rebate to taxpayers.
14:37 Catrina explains how the R Street approach would work and if it would be fair to those who are paying taxes.
17:19 Catrina expresses her thoughts on putting a price on carbon.
19:12 Catarina shares if climate change is a populist-enough issue for the Republican party.
20:28 Catarina gives her insights of how effective a carbon tax would be.
24:53 Catarina comments on the increase of the carbon tax and how to ensure an environmental outcome from a price signal.
28:03 Michael discusses information on what he’s been following regarding sustainability, the future of climate change, and the outdoor-sports industry.
30:22 Mike talks about an article he read about the Alberta tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline.
32:24 Michael provides information about his interest in the pipeline.
32:54 Mike shares what he knows about ExxonMobil and supplies an issue with the tar sands.
33:33 Michael mentions that Canada is going to be putting a price on carbon.

Guest:

Catrina Rorke is senior fellow and energy policy director for the R Street Institute. She founded and leads the institute’s energy program, which works to clarify a well-defined and limited role for government in shaping decisions about infrastructure, wholesale and retail electricity, research and development, fuel choice and diversity, and climate adaptation and mitigation.

Follow Catrina on Twitter

Organization:

The R Street Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy research organization (“think tank”). Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government.

Take Away Quotes:

“As an organization that’s dedicated to conservative free-market principles, the carbon tax sort of checked the boxes, and so R Street has long advocated for a revenue-neutral form of a carbon price, especially one that includes preemption for regulatory programs that currently try to price carbon into the market.”

“It’s certainly a conservative idea to use the lightest touch possible to correct a market failure. So, when you look at a role for government, as a conservative you don’t want government to expand beyond addressing substantive market failures, where the market isn’t addressing problems on its own. And climate change is a really perfect example of this. We know that there’s risk related to anthropogenic emissions, the market isn’t pricing that on its own, and so without the ability to enforce reductions to emissions, I guess through property rights…and then, that’s not working, so how do we address reducing emissions? There should be a role for telling the market that there’s this failure, and we’ve traditionally depended on government to fill that role. So I don’t want to say that a carbon tax is a conservative idea, but the idea of using a light touch to address externalities, that’s a conservative idea, and that’s what leads us to a carbon tax.”

“One of the main obstacles to getting the carbon price internalized in the market is that it’s affecting every corner of the economy, right? So nearly every industry is in some way going to be impacted if we start pricing emissions, and because that’s the case, we’re going to see economic contraction. What we want to do is use the revenue that we collect to solve that contraction, and we think we can do it by dedicating all of the revenue to the most distorting taxes that we currently have on the books, and those are taxes to capital. So while a Baker-Shultz proposal is suggesting a dividend, R Street doesn’t think that that’s the most conservative idea. In fact, we think it leaves out sort of the crucial part of this situation which is that you don’t want addressing climate change to damage the economy. You want addressing climate change to lead to a more productive economy.”

“Climate change, also, is this funny problem that just makes all of the existing problems we can measure today worse. So climate change leads to water insecurity, which we already document; it leads to trouble accessing sanitation services, which we already document; it expands the range of disease, which we’re already having trouble addressing.”

Resources:

R Street

Infinite Earth Radio Episode 027: Businesses Acting on Rising Seas with Michael Green of the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) – and our newest Infinite Earth Radio podcast co-host! 

Mar 23, 2017

Topic:

The Impact Domino Effect: From Neighborhoods to Cities to Regions

In This Episode:

01:19 Rachel Deffenbaugh is introduced.
01:29 Rachel shares how she became involved in urban agriculture and why urban agriculture is important to her.
02:15 Rachel states what Gateway Greening is.
02:31 Rachel describes the difference between community gardening and urban agriculture.
03:19 Rachel answers how we look at urban agriculture in terms of it being a system within a community.
04:58 Rachel talks about why we should focus energy on urban agriculture.
07:25 Rachel conveys her thoughts on the direct economic benefits of urban agriculture.
10:49 Mike comments that urban settings can make the food system more economically viable.
12:13 Rachel speaks about the consumer side of food.
13:11 Mike mentions a book called “The Two-Income Trap” by Elizabeth Warren, and that our economy has other things that are more expensive than food.
14:16 Rachel tells what Gateway Greening is doing to make St. Louis more of an urban agricultural place.
17:50 Rachel talks about the goals and vision of Gateway Greening.
20:33 Rachel states how people can support the work of Gateway Greening.
21:24 Rachel shares if there are resources for those who do not live in the St. Louis area.

Guest:

Rachel Deffenbaugh managed the Gateway Greening Urban Farm for over 6 years, during which time she developed and implemented dynamic employment and therapeutic programming for individuals struggling with homelessness, mental illness, and/or addiction. She has a diverse background in sustainable agriculture and therapeutic horticulture. She recently transitioned to supervising the Therapeutic Horticulture program at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Organization:

Gateway Greening isn’t just about gardens and plants. It’s about working together to create something beautiful — safer, more colorful neighborhoods for our children; food for the underprivileged and opportunities for the homeless; and a city that embodies our vision of sustainability and hope. Gateway Greening is a community of gardeners, neighbors, friends and volunteers. And we believe that by educating and empowering our community through gardening and urban agriculture, we can continue to grow St. Louis into the city we know it to be.

Take Away Quotes:

“For me, community gardening has a very localized effect. So it’ll be a garden in a neighborhood, or at a church, that is really focused on whatever community is connected to that garden, which is really significant and impactful for that community. Urban agriculture has a much bigger focus. Maybe it’s a whole city that is impacted by the programing and the produce that is grown there, or potentially even a whole region. So it’s really kind of the scale of what you’re working with.”

“Urban agriculture can be easily integrated into any sort of community with intention behind it… in the case of where I work, it might look like a big—we have a two-and-a-half acre urban farm in downtown St. Louis; and we operate a lot of different programs and impact people struggling with homelessness; we bring in volunteers from all different walks of life, all different communities; we have a teen-employment program. So that’s a very centralized, kind of top-down approach to urban agriculture, which I don’t think is bad by any means, but there’s also the bottom-up approach that is out there as well.”

“Another thing that urban agriculture can be if you’re a city planner or developer or something is tucking in agricultural elements into what you’re already doing. So if you’re redesigning the streetscape in some cute little neighborhood or something, rather than using nonfood-producing trees, use apple trees, pear trees, whatever kind of trees fit your climate best, but some sort of food-producing tree. They take the same level of maintenance and care as any other tree, but the community can benefit that, and it’s no more effort than anything else, and there’s a whole urban-agriculture element already tucked into what exists.”

“…the other thing that I really love about urban agriculture is that it has this incredible power to bring people together, which I think is true of anything having to do with plants. Whether we’re talking about a food-producing plant or your Aunt Margaret’s prize-winning rosebush or whatever the case is, I think humans are inherently drawn to plants.”

Resources:

Gateway Greening

Mar 16, 2017

Topic:

People Taking Charge of Their Own Community

In This Episode:

01:20 Jane LaFleur is introduced.
01:28 Jane shares what interests her about community development and how she got involved in community-development work.
02:30 Jane provides some of the economic challenges.
03:33 Jane defines community wealth.
04:13 Jane states what “a barn-raising approach to community wealth” means.
06:06 Jane tells more about the Heart and Soul approach.
07:31 Jane mentions how long she’s been doing the Heart and Soul approach.
08:14 Jane gives a success story of the Heart and Soul approach.
11:14 Mike discusses the problem of getting people engaged in their communities.
11:30 Jane replies with the old way of doing business.
11:41 Jane supplies another success story of the Heart and Soul approach.
13:26 Mike states his thoughts about the disconnect between government and the people.
13:40 Jane informs that the Heart and Soul approach is about what communities can do for themselves.
15:00 Mike shares his view of what governance is.
15:48 Jane says how people can learn more about her work.
16:04 Jane speaks about the inclusiveness of the Heart and Soul process.
16:58 Mike clarifies which website to go to, depending on your state of residence.
17:33 Jane answers if community wealth is an economic-development process.
18:52 Mike mentions focusing on social capital.
19:32 Jane conveys that social capital is a part of asset-based planning and that businesses are attracted to a community that knows what its values are.

Guest:

Jane LaFleur is the Senior Program Director of Lift360, a state-wide organization that inspires leadership, builds stronger leaders, and equips those leaders to tackle the critical issues facing Maine. Lift360 works to strengthen leaders, organizations and communities through its work with cities and towns, non-profit organizations and community members. Jane served as the Executive Director of Friends of Midcoast Maine (FMM), a regional smart growth, planning and civic engagement organization for 13 years until joining Lift 360 in September 2016. She developed The Community Institute, a program of Friends of Midcoast Maine and has been named a coach and champion on the Orton Family Foundation Heart & Soul planning program. Jane grew up in Lewiston, Maine and has been a city and regional planner since 1981. Her work has received the Maine Associations of Planners Plan of the year award in Damariscotta, Maine and in South Burlington Vermont and in 2015 she was named The Professional Planner of the Year by both the Maine Association of Planners and the Northern New England Chapter of APA. Jane is a sought after lecturer and trainer on planning and civic engagement topics at the local level as well as at national and state conferences including NNECAPA, APA, New Partners for Smart Growth, Community Matters, and MAP Annual Meetings. She has recently published an article in the “Communities and Banking” magazine of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston as well as other publications. Jane graduated from the University of Maine and received her master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University and lives within Camden, Maine.

Organization:

Lift360 focuses on leadership every day – for individuals, in organizations, and throughout communities.Their mission is to inspire leadership, build stronger leaders, and to equip those leaders to tackle the critical issues faced in Maine. That focus takes them into communities and boardrooms, reaching all sectors and all areas of the state. They deliver programs and services working side by side with organizational and community leaders. The impact of their work and the stories they hear from those they collaborate with is an incredible reward. It’s their way to make Maine an even better place to live and work.

Take Away Quotes:

“I’m a city planner by training, and I’ve been involved with communities since about 1980, when I got out of graduate school, and I really started to care about how communities grow and change and help people take leadership positions in communities to make a difference…I love watching communities wrestle with tough decisions, and I love watching young people get engaged in communities, because we need more of that. We need new young people to take over our roles as we get older.”

“Community wealth is not necessarily cash, it’s not necessarily money; it’s all the things that make up your community, and it’s the assets in your community, it’s who’s living in your community, it’s the social fabric of the community, it’s whether you have engaged people, whether you have people making tough decisions and helping to grow that community.”

“The [Heart and Soul] approach is outlined on the Orton Family Foundation website, and with lots of free materials. It doesn’t cost anything for someone to take on this process; they don’t charge. There are some costs as you’re running the process—you need to fund a coordinator to help keep all the ducks in a row and keep all the activities in line so you know who’s doing what. But it’s an 18-month to two-year, four-phase process. It starts with identifying who’s in your community and who are the connections in the community. Often, some never really think about all the organizations and groups and individuals that are making that community function.”

Resources:

Lift360

Orton Family Foundation

Mar 9, 2017

Topic:

Spurring Community Revitalization

In This Episode:

01:36 Co-host Kate Meis is introduced.
01:44 Guest Darin Dinsmore is introduced.
01:53 Darin shares how he ended up working on affordable-housing and infill-housing issues.
02:24 Darin explains what smart infill housing is.
02:50 Darin describes what infill and smart growth look like in rural communities like Truckee, California.
03:54 Darin provides information on his tiny-home project.
06:04 Darin discusses the zoning ordinance for the tiny-home project in Arizona.
06:50 Kate mentions that with the growing interest in tiny homes, local governments are having to figure out how to keep the zoning updated.
07:23 Mike comments on the dynamic of minimal residential house size and people who are living in hotel rooms in dilapidated buildings.
08:11 Darin speaks about micro units and single-room occupancy units.
08:46 Darin tells about the infill score and revitalization roadmap tool.
09:27 Darin states where people can go to take the infill-readiness test.
09:48 Darin describes the Crowdbrite tool.
11:25 Darin shares where people can go to access the Crowdbrite tool.
11:39 Darin mentions the city where the Crowdbrite tool is bring used.
12:06 Darin supplies some of the things that communities can do to be infill ready.
13:01 Mike adds to the discussion that there’s a public-approval issue.
13:24 Kate conveys that most Americans prefer smart growth.
13:33 Darin provides some of the challenges that cities face in becoming infill ready.

Co-Host:

Kate Meis joins the Infinite Earth Radio as the co-host for this episode. Kate Meis is the Executive Director of the Local Government Commission (LGC). Kate is a champion for local governments; a recognized leader in local climate change adaptation, mitigation and clean energy efforts; and an ardent coalition builder. She obtained a Masters of Science degree in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis, and has a Sociology Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sonoma.

Guest:

Crowdbrite CEO Darin Dinsmore is an urban planner and landscape architect with over 15 years experience in community based planning and design. His award winning projects have transformed communities and neighborhoods. Darin is an expert in collaborative techniques and community engagement.

Organization:

Crowdbrite is a leader in civic engagement. They combine next generation online tools and award winning approaches for meaningful engagement.

Take Away Quotes:

“I’m originally a planner from Canada, came to the United States, came to California, back in 1999. As a nonprofit planning director, really got involved in working with communities, doing community-based planning, and one of the big issues is infill development and, today now more than ever, affordable housing.”

“Most cities, as you’re aware, including St. Louis, where we are now, have lots that are underutilized or could be utilized better or parking areas that could be used for housing and things. It’s just making better use of those lands where there are existing services—water, sewer, parks, schools—and how can we use those lands more efficiently and more effectively.”

“Truckee, for instance, was one of the last incorporated cities in California, and it really was and grew as a bunch of, sort of, scattered neighborhoods in Placer County. And since they’ve incorporated, they’ve been, basically, trying to knit that community fabric together with roads, parks, schools, and infrastructure to really become that community and that town that’s more walkable and friendly for its citizens. And so their type of infill isn’t large-scale projects; it’s small two- and three-story buildings, accessory dwelling units, even, maybe, tiny homes in your backyard.”

“About a year ago we launched this infill-score tool. It’s a tool for citizens, elected officials, and planners to kind of get a number in terms of their infill readiness, and it takes about 10 minutes online to calculate your score. And in the last year, without really any advertising, we’ve had 250 cities in seven countries and every state except Delaware use the tool. So we’re seeing that there’s a lot of interest and demand in tools and strategies for smart infill.”

Resources:

Crowdbrite

Infill Score

Infill Planning Tool – Community Revitalization Roadmap

Mar 2, 2017

Topic:

How Community Design Impacts lives

In This Episode:

01:31 Elizabeth Hartig is introduced.
01:40 Elizabeth shares how she became involved in planning for health issues.
02:23 Elizabeth tells about the American Planning Association.
03:02 Elizabeth states if there are specific objectives to achieve with the Plan4Health initiative.
04:08 Elizabeth relays the degree to which community design impacts health versus access to healthcare.
05:05 Elizabeth answers the question of how to move to a more healthy-community design.
07:18 Elizabeth shares her thoughts on what needs to be done to get a faster-moving healthy-community movement.
08:36 Elizabeth provides the degree to which her work focuses on communities that have a lower quality of health outcomes and what needs to be done for those communities to be healthier.
10:54 Elizabeth relates what she is doing to get the people who are building communities to be more responsive to the urban walkable-community market demand.
12:37 Elizabeth tells where can people learn more about Plan4Health.
13:53 Elizabeth provides the first steps to making healthier communities.
15:38 Mike mentions one of the biggest mistakes that planners make.
16:06 Elizabeth comments on the mistake that planners make.
16:59 Elizabeth mentions if there is an expected end to the program or if it’s ongoing.


Guest:

Elizabeth Hartig joined the American Planning Association (APA) as a project coordinator for the Planning and Community Health Center in January 2015. Immediately prior, Elizabeth was a program officer with the Chicago Foundation for Women, leading the foundation’s volunteer grantmaking committee, managing the final evaluation plan for each proposal and supporting the foundation’s grantee community. Elizabeth received her master of arts in social administration from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and has worked in a variety of direct service and administrative positions.

Organization:

Plan4Health is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Planning Association’s Planning and Community Health Center is an awardee of the CDC’s National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention funding opportunity. Plan4Health is one community within the larger project — sharing lessons learned and expertise with the American Heart Association; the National Women, Infants, and Children; Society for Public Health Education; and Directors of Health Promotion and Education.


Take Away Quotes:

“My background is actually in social work, so I worked with a community foundation in Chicago, really thinking about how we can reach vulnerable populations, how we can support families and women and girls, and a lot of our work focused around places, so where people were and how that impacted their lives and their health and their choices. So when the opportunity to work with a Plan4Health project came up, I was really excited to take this to a deeper level and really think about how the design of our communities can impact our lives.”

“APA is a membership organization. We have about 38,000 members across the country. Our members are working at all different levels, with local communities, in regions, really thinking about how we can create healthy, vibrant communities.”

“APA was awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September of 2014, so we are in our second-and-a-half year of the project, and, really, the goal of the award and the goal of our overall project is to prevent chronic disease. So, how do we do that? We can make it easier to walk and bike and increase opportunities for physical activity, and we can also make it easier to get healthy food.”

“I think a lot of times we think about health equalling healthcare, but, really, most of your health is not happening at the doctor’s office, it’s happening in your daily life.”

Resources:

Plan4Health

2017 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference

Local Government Commission

Planners4Health Project

American Planning Association (APA)

APA’s Planning and Community Health Center

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