skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Clean Power plan
Safe Chemicals

Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Bringing regions together for cooperation and planning would promote sustainability

Kaid Benfield

Posted March 6, 2009

, , , , ,
Share | | |


Cities are traditionally blue, rural areas red, and suburbs purple, says Bill Dodge, former executive director of the National Association of Regional Councils, on Citiwire.  But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't or can't cooperate, and Dodge believes the trend may be favorable.  If so, it will be a good thing for the issues we care about. 

Dodge's piece came across my virtual desk on Thursday.  Here's a bit of it:

"More urban regions are becoming interested in preserving their rural fringes, to slow profligate sprawl growth and promote infill development that utilizes existing infrastructure and services.

"Simultaneously, more rural regions have begun to encounter the same economic, environmental, and social challenges as the more urban ones-absorbing new immigrants from other regions and overseas, for example. Local leaders and citizens in both sets of regions realized that they cannot address their own challenges, especially tough ones like affordable housing, if they can't engage all parts of their regions-red, blue, and purple-in resolving them . . .

"More rural regions are now providing agricultural and Northern Virginia regional plan, 1965 (via Prince William Conservation Alliance)other goods to neighboring urban regions and more urban regions are providing emergency preparedness and other services to neighboring rural regions. Soon, urban and rural regions could be jointly preserving the fields and forests that are critical to consuming the CO2 emissions that threaten the future livability of all regions.

Dodge posits that our first president to speak of "the new metropolitan reality" might do well to create an Office of Regional Policy within the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Interesting idea.  Go here for the full story.

Incidentally, the image accompanying this post is of a regional plan for Northern Virginia, depicting what planners hoped in 1965 the area might look like in 2000.  In actuality, sprawl overran the place and almost all of that hoped-for green space was obliterated.  With good regional cooperation, it might not have turned out that way.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.


Share | | |


ernie macedaMar 6 2009 11:23 PM

i am very much concern of the climatic condition of the world, temperature is becoming hotter and hotter from day to day but very people are giving any attention of what is happening to our planet, i am creating a movement for this purpose, i hope people will learn from what they are experiencing now. i am very much happy that there are group of people like you
we can rely on, i am willing to help your group deceminate your drive on this matter

Kaid @ NRDCMar 9 2009 03:05 PM

Thanks for your support, Ernie.

Tony ChaviraMar 9 2009 08:21 PM

Interesting article, especially in regards to recent urban plans to integrate the rural, like the investment (before the worst of the crisis began) and conceptual planning for urban gardens and the "localvore" movement. Since research debunked the myth that driving in 1,000 locally-produce tomatoes is somehow better for the environment than freighting in a million, it finally becomes a more apparent to city dwellers why we depend so heavily on the success of the surrounding rural regions.

Although I think that the divide may be largely perceived along political lines and not economic ones. In this respect, it's lucky that farming is such a huge industry that relies so heavily on urban consumption: a cushy financial relationship will almost always overshadow a tumultuous political one.

It helps that local government tends to be less blue/red. When your constituents find out that you passed on the opportunity to make them more money, you're OUTTA there.

Kaid @ NRDCMar 11 2009 01:13 PM

Thanks as always, Tony. Along the same lines, but not nearly as benign, is a new practice that I call "agri-sprawl": essentially claiming to preserve agriculture by mixing new suburban development into it. This fragments farming regions, making them less viable economically, while pushing infrastructure and transportation patterns farther and farther out. Its chief proponents seem to be, wouldn't you know it, developers and the contractors who depend on them.

Comments are closed for this post.


Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

Feeds: Stay Plugged In