DePillis traces Tregoning's involvement in building the smart growth movement, along with her husband Geoff Anderson (President and CEO of Smart Growth America), and her attempts at implementing smart growth principles from her many public sector perches (with the EPA, State of Maryland, and now with Washington D.C.).
DePillis explores Tregoning's sometimes contentious relationships with developers, community groups, and elected officials, which she has managed to navigate with aplomb and diplomacy. These skills have come in handy when arguing for smart growth principles (density, infill development, walkability) that important constituencies in the city and the region are not entirely sold on.
"'I'm always thinking about how to put it so people won't think I'm being ideological, or I'm not attacking someone,' Tregoning says. 'For the change I want, what is the lever? If there are people I need to influence, who do they need to hear it from? Because it's probably not me. That's why the developers are so important. I think planners in general do better leading from behind. You know, we're not elected. This is not the era of the-not that I'd even want to be Robert Moses, but you know what I mean?'"