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EnvisionEAST 2050: A Regional Visioning Exercise with 30,000 Legos

Posted October 23, 2012 1:58 AM by Dylan Miyake

Bright and early Wednesday morning, I will have the honor of joining my father for an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Reality Check involving thousands of legos, lots of yarn, and a regional challenge requiring creativity and cooperation not only across county lines, but also between a diverse set of interests.

The Reality Check exercise brings together a diverse set of leaders from a nine county region of Eastern North Carolina to address critical growth issues. Participants represent various viewpoints including business and commerce, agriculture, conservation and environmental interests, city and county managers, leaders from education, healthcare, transportation and utilities, as well as residents who “like it just the way it is”.

The EnvisionEast 2050 program summarizes it best.

“Growth is coming to our nine-county eastern North Carolina region.  Projections show as many as a million more people here by 2050.  Where will all of us live, work and play then?  How can we maintain our quality of life and build a sustainable future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren in the face of record growth.

On October 24th, 300 regional business, development, community, government, environmental, academic and military leaders will gather for EnvisionEAST-2050, a ULI Reality Check collaborative regional visioning process of the Urban Land Institute,   Working on maps without county lines participants will suggest alternative scenarios to accommodate growth through the year 2050.

Reality Check is not a new concept. Since 2005, twelve regions including Tampa Bay, Washington DC, the Uplands Region of South Carolina, Charleston, Raleigh-Durham, Jacksonville Florida, Hampton Roads and the state of Maryland, have staged Reality Checks.”

YouTube details a similar event from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia in the video below:

Jim Oliver’s quote captures the essence of the event;

“We are so overwhelmed with thinking little, all of our structures are built about being small, but if the global economy is really about regions, we have to figure out ways to make regional decisions as well as good local, even neighborhood decisions.”

Participants will be working to develop and test different sets of guiding principles throughout the day. I look forward to sharing the best of those soon after this event!

As promised, here are the quotes and guiding directions that caught my attention from a speech by Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute.

"Before making a regional development plan, we need to figure out where not to develop first." This includes greenspace, farmland, recreation space, etc...

Community image is critical to economic vitality. Business leaders will only bring business to places that they would enjoy living in.

Increasing green space increases property values. Think about homes with golf course views, without the golf courses.

Americans most popular recreational activity is walking. Requires paths and sidewalks.

How much something costs is NOW the most important question. It is the second most important question behind "What SHOULD we do?" Money will follow the answers to that question.

Public buildings were always the most beautiful before World War II. They have lost the grandeur- leaving residents and potential employers wondering "if the city does not invest in itself, why should I invest here?"

People return more and buy more from places they connect with. Worth investing to attract affection, sometimes called the "place making dividend".

Educate and communicate to reduce the need to regulate.

Catalog regional assets and promote them. Ideally a community that promotes it's assets can pick and choose between development proposals.

And finally,

"Vision counts but implementation is priceless!"

Watch this site for the final report early next year:
# Posted By Jeremy Sutherland | 10/26/12 5:27 PM
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