TED Conversations

Susan Brooks

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How do we fix the sprawl?

I'm from Houston. Actually, just outside Houston, but near enough to it to make my point. I live in the suburbs. My city is very spawled. Once a city has already been built around the need of a car, how would/could that town "fix" the infrastructure to allow it to be more walkable? What's the first step? Who do I need to talk to in my local government to try to get these changes made?


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  • Nov 10 2013: There's hope! Check out my TEDx talk on Retrofitting Suburbia. It's based on the book of the same name that June Williamson and I wrote and continue to research. My database now has over 800 examples of dead malls, vacant big boxes, aging commercial strip corridors etc that have been reinhabited with more community-serving uses; redeveloped into more walkable, compact urban places; or regreened into parks, reconstructed wetlands, or community gardens. There are different strategies for introducing walkable infrastructure into existing sprawl (it's not easy - it tends to happen in chunks) and even more importantly, changing the public works standards so that new development is in a walkable street network in the first place.

    Ellen Dunham-Jones
    Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Nov 11 2013: Wonderful stuff. It will be despised on TED because it is practical, non-extremist, doesn't steal even more money as "taxes" and does not exponentially increase government power. How dare you be useful and present ideas that might actually work?
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      Nov 21 2013: Great talk Ellen, with good examples that what we are addressing in this discussion is happening NOW!

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