Village Habitat Design (VHD) is a planning and educational group that has set many precedents over the years for sustainable environmental and community planning.VHD offers a neighborhood workshop to inspire neighborhood wide sustainable planning. At a time when we are faced with a variety of challenges including rising energy costs, climatic uncertainty and loss of green space, looking at the whole neighborhood with a number of interested neighbors at one time can creates a unique opportunity for neighborhood wide sustainability.
The workshop can be conducted during the week or on the weekend and may last from ½ day to a full weekend depending on the scope of interest. The workshops often include one or more of the following topics based on the interest of the neighborhood.
Preserving green space is critical since it cannot be re-acquired once it is. How can the neighborhood preserve the majority of its undeveloped/developable land? This land includes undeveloped private properties and developed large lot properties with remaining developable areas.Suggested tools used in the workshop include conservation oriented zoning, conservation easements and forms of ownership that are most appropriate for the long term safeguard of the greenspace. Greenspace preservation tasks include:
- How can the neighborhood preserve wildlife habitats and connectivity with a neighborhood wildlife preservation plan?
- How can the neighborhood preserve lands suitable to neighborhood farming and gardens? A professional neighborhood farm can produce substantial fresh fruits and vegetables for the neighborhood and create many opportunities for nature based recreation and cultural entertainment.
- How can the neighborhood preserve lands ideal for community gathering areas such as picnic areas, play grounds, tot lots or even a community pavilion? To increase time spent outside and to feel safe and connected to neighbors that you know, it is important to have these areas within close walking distance.
- How can the neighborhood facilitate rain water detention and retention for neighborhood irrigation purposes and to increase water quality and storm water management?
Creating more opportunities for walking in the neighborhood improves our health, increases interaction between neighbors, improves safety and reduces the impact of excessive vehicle trips through he neighborhood. Creating walk-ability opportunities requires a comprehensive review of desired walk-able destinations and the identification of opportunities to optimize those possibilities including:
- What are the close by greenspace destinations and how can those be linked in a way that enables neighborhood access while not creating neighborhood safety issues?
- What are the close by neighborhood commercial destinations and how can they be improved to create more neighborhood friendly and walk-able retail and services?
- What are the walk-able opportunities for children and the elderly that are less able to have car access to meet their needs?
- How can “live/work” opportunities reduce car dependency and increase community presence?
- What traffic calming strategies can be incorporated to make the neighborhood more walk-able and bike-able?
- How can the neighborhood increase car pooling and use of flex cars to reduce vehicle trips?
Neighborhood Economic Sustainability
Creating more opportunities for neighborhood residents to work in or close to the neighborhood and addressing economic issues that displace the elderly from neighborhoods helps increase neighborhood vitality and longevity.
- Increase the number of neighborhood owned businesses in the neighborhood commercial areas
- Create property tax incentives to keep the elderly in the neighborhood.
- Increase the amount of neighborhood live/work opportunities
- Increase the exchange of community goods and services within the neighborhood
The above sustainable aspects all work together to lead to an increased neighborhood quality of life and health.
- Daily walking
- Farm to table neighborhood with Fresh Food and neighborhood “agri-tainment”.
- Safer walk-able access and community surveillance for children and the elderly
- Less neighborhood displacement and more neighborhood interaction
- More time spent outside in greenspace