The Complexity of Rural America

Gary Toth and Hannah Twaddell untangle the complexity of planning for rural communities.

Toth and Twaddell write, "Everyone knows what a city or a suburban town looks like, but rural life resists quick stereotyping. Compounding this is that in rural America, it is far more necessary for life to adapt to the local environment and realities: how families deal with water for instance, is very different in the high desert of New Mexico versus the verdant hills of northern Vermont."

Full Story: What is 'Rural livability'?



Rural livability

Rural livability involves first and foremost retaining the landscape features that initiated people to move to rural communities in the first place- farms and forests.

It also involves building homes that resemble traditional housing design in the area- colonial farmhouse, rancher etc. That means implementing architectural design standards for a community so that new homes by and large complement existing ones.

Lastly, it necessitates small scale in commercial and office building. Shopping centers should resemble small villages- blending into the landscape rather than being an eyesore. They should also serve as meeting places in otherwise isolated rural communities.

Rural livability does not mean new McMansion subdivisions, large chain shopping centers and drug stores on every corner. Planners are being used by large builders to force their projects into rural communities, sometimes by making the project "village" in design when in reality it is more of the same suburban development.

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Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.