TED Conversations

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  • Oct 1 2013: Burlington Vermont is a small city that had a big idea. Thirty years ago we set out to keep the city accessible to all citizens even as we improved our neighborhoods, our waterfront and our local economy by creating and preserving permanently affordable housing on community controlled land through the creation of a community land trust. Called Champlain Housing Trust, today we have over 2,600 affordable homes of all kinds in Burlington's metro region.
    Through this government/citizen endeavor Burlington itself has made exceptional strides towards the goal of inclusion. Twenty percent of the city's rental housing is price restricted by income. In addition, we have the nation's largest stock of shared equity homes, assuring that homeownership will remain affordable even as property values increase all around us. Burlingtonians created a housing trust fund and passed a host of ordinances funding and favoring affordable housing like inclusionary zoning, condo-conversion protections and renter protections. CHT's large and active membership has provided leadership to sustain these gains over the years and continues to develop new, permanently affordable homes and preserve the quality as well as the affordability of our portfolio. Inclusion builds political power for people of modest incomes which leads to further gains. At one point residents of CHT homes held four of the 14 city council seats.

    Key to achieving our goal has been the commitment to permanent affordability protected through the collective ownership (through CHT) of the land. This is a democratic and durable way to keep your city open and inclusive and it is being implemented in over two hundred communities in the US and several large cities abroad.

    At tedcity2.0 in NY I was inspired by Enrique Penalosa's achievements in Bogota and his conclusion about the need for collective land ownership to achieve environmentally sustainable as well as just cities. View it now, and think, respond, act!
    • Oct 2 2013: So what? Burlington has a population of less than 50,000 people. The ten largest cities of the USA have a population of about 1,000,000 or more. The density of Burlington is less than 4000 people/square mile. NYC has a density of over 25,000 per square mile. Likewise, using the "Entropy index" of the USA2010 project, Burlington has a diversity score of 34.6, putting it above the 25 least diverse metropolitan areas but well below the 25th most diverse, which had a score of 72.9. Ethnoracial homogeneity is very well known to facilitate social stability and the ability of communities to work together. The more diverse and larger a community, the harder it is to implement policies like those of Burlington. How do you intend to impose Burlington on NYC or LA? Hooray for Burlington, but the rest of the world's cities aren't Burlington.
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        Oct 2 2013: Bryan,
        You ask..."so what"?
        So, it's an idea worth spreading:>)

        George brought Burlington, Vermont into this conversation....

        "George McCarthy
        Sep 21 2013: "...Check out the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont which has succeeded in protecting around 20% of the housing stock as permanently affordable. Not to mention--management of the property is governed by local community."

        My reply to George's comment begins...

        "Colleen Steen
        Sep 21 2013: George,
        Although Vermont is a very small state, with small cities, I believe the same practices can be used elsewhere".

        You are right Bryan....Vermont is different than NY. Do you disregard ideas because at first glance they do not fit....in your perception? Or....could it be beneficial to consider some of these ideas?
        • Oct 2 2013: Well, isn't that special--homogenous, low-population density Burlington has the solution to everything! Just disband the big cities and disperse the people until they are all in small, low-density, racial enclaves. How do you plan to implement these policies in cities with multiple powerful, entrenched interest groups that are larger than the entire Burlington metropolitan area? The huge cities are so dense and heavily populated that there is not enough land to even think of a Burlington model. Where will the trillions of dollars necessary come from? In this day and age, there is nothing at all that forces any megacorporation or gigantic brokerage/finance business to stay in a specific city, so they can't be extorted for the funds. Individual rich people can legally up and move, too. So, where do the trillions of dollars necessary come from?

          To get anywhere, you have to start from where you are, and all the "solutions" I've seen first begin with an unmentioned "Step zero: Don't be a major metropolitan city in the first place."
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          Tao P 50+

          • +1
          Oct 4 2013: @Bryan Maloney, Colleen gives firsthand examples from the community in which she lives in. A big thing I took from her posts is that people in their own neighborhoods need to be a part of the plan, as they are the ones on 'ground zero'. You seem to think races don't get along with one another. One of the reasons for this is a lack of common ground. Speaking from my city, Vancouver Canada, there is a suburb in which there was a large influx of middle eastern people into a predominantly white neighborhood. There was a lack of integration and the mayor wanted to improve this. Her solution was to give away tickets to the local hockey game. This approached worked marvelously well and the common support of the local team was enough for many to take the first step in learning about their 'different' neighbors.
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        Oct 2 2013: Burlington does not have the solution to everything Bryan, and that is not the point in offering ideas.

        I do not plan to "implement these policies" in cities, because I do not live in a big city. I live in a small town, in a small region, and this is where I can implement some ideas, and have been doing so for years.

        I have stressed, in several comments on this thread, my belief that PLANNING is important. People in every size village, town, and city can consider what is needed, and PLAN for the needs of the people in that area.

        The question is..."How can we build cities that are sustainable, inclusive and truly just?"


        It looks like your answer is... IT IS NOT POSSIBLE.

        We are all entitled to our own thoughts, feelings, preferences, beliefs and answers:>)

        P.S."The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it"
        (Chinese Proverb)
        • Oct 3 2013: Then what is your point of spouting all this, unless it's to rub everyone's faces in it. If Burlington's example can't be used for the majority of people, for the places that need to change what they're doing the most, what's the point of advertising it except to say "Sucks to be you."?

          What do you do with cities that ALREADY EXIST and are ALREADY VERY LARGE AND DENSE? Or do they just deserve to suffer and die?

          I live in this place called "reality", where a-priori "planning" is usually an unaffordable luxury and you have to deal with things as the currently exist. I don't do this "let them eat cake" crap. What is your solution for the cities that already exist? Is it just to sit back and continue to play "let them eat cake", like you currently do?

          Your "solution" is nothing better than "do not have already become a major city 100 years ago". How does that help the cities that exist right now? Sounds like nothing but self-satisfied, self-centered smugness.
        • Oct 3 2013: PS: "People who quote proverbs just can't come up with their own ideas."

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