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Archive: David Boyd

How Can COWS Help to Make Better Cities?

David Boyd / Mar 10 2012

For Release Saturday, March 10, 2012

David BoydMADISON — There are COWS in the Sewell Social Science building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin here. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, given Wisconsin’s reputation as “America’s Dairyland.” But it’s not the kind of cows you would expect. COWS is an acronym for the “Center On Wisconsin Strategy.” For the past 20 years it has been an epicenter for promoting and disseminating “high road” solutions to a wide array of social, economic, and environmental problems.

The idea behind “high road” solutions is based on a set of values — a focus on equity, sustainability, and democracy. And closely allied, implementation strategies to improve the efficiency and productivity of government. It is about creating “an appropriate infrastructure for a progressive economy,” says Joel Rogers, COWS Director. “People have lost faith in government and our democratic institutions. Part of what COWS does is focus on inventories and benchmarks and then help to find ways to reduce waste, add value, and then capture and share the benefits for all. We are a think-and-do tank.”

COWS has a variety of programs that address topics such as improving job quality, promoting innovation in clean and efficient energy, and providing progressive policy options to state governments and their DOTs. One program that is getting increasing attention and having a growing impact is the Mayors Innovation Project (MIP).
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What do Americans think about Sustainable Communities?

David Boyd / Oct 28 2011

For Release Friday, October 28, 2011

David BoydAnyone who has ever watched an episode of The West Wing or followed the national network’s television coverage on election night has a general idea of how common the use of polls has become to the policy formulation process in our country. Our leaders and public officials have turned to the tools of marketers to help decipher which direction the figurative winds are blowing before they step into the fray. So why wouldn’t planning and smart growth advocates do the same?

Last fall, Smart Growth America (SGA) did just that. It’s a coalition representing nearly 40 national organizations and many state and local groups that share an interest in “creating and maintaining great neighborhoods in which to live and work,” in building coalitions to “bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide.” SGA commissioned a national survey intended to gain a better understanding about the role of sustainable communities in our nation’s economic recovery.
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The Future of Planning – “Utah Style”

David Boyd / Aug 20 2010

For Release Sunday, August 22, 2010

David BoydSALT LAKE CITY — In the current economic climate it is not unusual to find local governments “tightening the belt” by curtailing activities not considered essential services. All too often this can mean the slashing of planning projects and departmental staff.

There is a certain amount of logic to cuts: After all if a community isn’t growing, if there are no new developments to be reviewed, what is the point?

But — what we are seeing is that smart communities, like smart businesses, are using the laggard pace of the present economic downturn to lay the foundation for a high functioning and successful future. By engaging in highly participatory and increasingly regional-scale planning initiatives, these communities are developing the civic infrastructure necessary to succeed in the 21st century.

A prime example is the Greater Wasatch Area of Utah. It includes 10 counties and over 90 cities and towns, sandwiched between the Wasatch Mountain Range and the Great Salt Lake — a 100-plus mile linear oasis bordered by rugged mountain terrain and desert, home to over 80 percent of Utah’s residents. Read More »

Is ‘Shovel-Ready’ Ready Enough?

David Boyd / Feb 05 2009

For Release Sunday, February 08, 2009

David Boyd The recent frenzy surrounding the formulation of an economic stimulus package has injected a new phrase into the American lexicon — “shovel-ready.” The phrase’s current popularity traces back to statements by then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the presidential campaign, capped off by Obama’s pledge, a month after his election, to launch his economic stimulus plan with a bevy of “shovel-ready” projects.

But assuming Congress soon passes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, can all its infrastructure projects be truly “shovel-ready” — 100 percent completed plans, requisite environmental review and permitting processes in hand, plus the real estate acquired and prepared for construction? Probably not.

But we’re not without knowledge or capacity — if we use it — to fast-track the projects we need to bolster the economy and start putting people back to work quickly. Indeed, we’ve done it — and quite well — in a number of high-profile recent cases.

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