A Sputnik moment for smart growth

As the annual summit New Partners for Smart Growth gets under way today, the challenge for land use planning and development has been laid out by Geoffrey Anderson.

Anderson, CEO of Smart Growth America, is speaking at the New Partners gathering in Charlotte. In a recent blog, he laid out the issues well, explaining:

“Smart growth is about building neighborhoods that work for the people who live there — meaning rural, suburban and urban communities with more housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools where people want them. These are places where strong economies and a healthy environment can both thrive at once. Places where community leaders choose to get the most out of each federal or state dollar invested in the neighborhoods. Where the private sector can help jump-start the local real estate market in a way that is right for that unique community. Where we make decisions to save money in our municipal budgets and in our own wallets and invest for the future.”

Referring to the recent State of the Union address, Anderson said: “One of the most quotable moments of [President Obama’s] speech was that ‘This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.’ The original Sputnik moment was born of the Soviet launch of the eponymous satellite in October 1957. It was a wake-up call to Americans that they needed to be smarter about the space race.”

“Today,” said Anderson, “Americans need to be smarter about how we grow and rebuild our economy so that our neighborhoods and towns are economically strong, environmentally sound and great places to live. That is ultimately the promise of the American dream.”