An Interview with Kaid Benfield, Urban Resilience Guru
"PlaceMakers: You recently wrote in your Huffington Post blog that you were concerned about smart growth becoming dumb growth if planning and design practitioners can’t ratchet up their awareness of — and strategies for coping with — growing challenges. Among those challenges: The aging of the population, the growing wealth gap. What else?"
"Kaid Benfield: I think that the basic ingredients of smart growth — access on foot to nearby conveniences, expanded transportation choices, giving priority to urban infill before developing new green land — are quite well positioned to accept demographic trends. All indications are that consumer preferences are moving more away from sprawling subdivisions and more toward cities and walkable suburbs. Where we need to do better, though, is with respect to social inclusion — not just newer demographics but also older ones in inner-city neighborhoods — and with respect to the environment."
The conversation goes on to address a wide variety of planning issues:
- Equity problems: the mostly-white urban designer roster
- Integrating the experience of nature into urban design
- Respecting the need for less density in certain urban contexts
- Hearing diverse viewpoints and learning from each other