Community Building


New Urbanism

From Wikipedia: New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighborhoods containing a wide range of housing and job types.[1] It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually influenced many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use strategies.

New Urbanism is strongly influenced by urban design practices that were prominent until the rise of the automobile prior to World War II; it encompasses ten basic principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD).[2] These ideas can all be circled back to two concepts: building a sense of community and the development of ecological practices.[3]


The organizing body for New Urbanism is the Congress for the New Urbanism, founded in 1993. Its foundational text is the Charter of the New Urbanism, which begins:

We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.[4]

New Urbanists support: regional planning for open space; context-appropriate architecture and planning; adequate provision of infrastructure such as sporting facilities, libraries and community centres;[5] and the balanced development of jobs and housing. They believe their strategies can reduce traffic congestion by encouraging the population to ride bikes, walk, or take the train. They also hope that this set up will increase the supply of affordable housing and rein in suburban sprawl. The Charter of the New Urbanism also covers issues such as historic preservation, safe streets, green building, and the re-development of brownfield land. The ten Principles of Intelligent Urbanism also phrase guidelines for new urbanist approaches.

Architecturally, new urbanist developments are often accompanied by New Classical, postmodern, or vernacular styles, although that is not always the case.




New Urbanists make placemaking and public space a high priority. New Urbanist streets are designed for people—rather than just cars—and accommodate multimodal transportation including walking, bicycling, transit use, and driving. We believe in providing plazas, squares, sidewalks, cafes, and porches to host daily interaction and public life.

New Urbanism is pragmatic. Great design is not useful if it can't be built. New Urbanists work with and include production builders, small developers, traffic engineers, appraisers and financial institutions, public officials, citizens and others with influence over the built environment to come up with implementable solutions. 

New Urbanism is focused on design, which is critical to the function of communities. The size and shape of a plaza will help determine whether it is consistently alive with people or windswept and vacant. The organization of buildings in a neighborhood will help establish its character. Combining appropriate design elements makes places that are greater than the sum of their parts. 

New Urbanism is holistic. All scales, from the metropolitan region to the single building, are related. A building that is connected to a transit stop will help the region function better, and well-organized region benefits the buildings within it. Streets that rely only on engineering tend to move automobiles and little else; all disciplines related to the built environment must work together to create great places.

Reclaiming underutilized and neglected places is a special focus of New Urban design and building. Through the federal HOPE VI and Choice Neighborhoods programs, for example, New Urbanism has transformed deteriorating public housing into livable mixed-income neighborhoods. Commercial strips with single-use development and excessive asphalt are transformed into lively main streets or boulevards through new urban design.

Above all, New Urbanism is about creating sustainable, human-scaled places where people can live healthy and happy lives. The walkable, vibrant, beautiful places that New Urbanists build work better for businesses, local governments, and their residents. Anyone that works to create, restore, or protect a great place can join in the New Urbanism movement.


New Urbanism is a planning and development approach based on the principles of how cities and towns had been built for the last several centuries: walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, and accessible public spaces. In other words: New Urbanism focuses on human-scaled urban design. 

The principles, articulated in the Charter of the New Urbanism, were developed to offer alternatives to the sprawling, single-use, low-density patterns typical of post-WWII development, which have been shown to inflict negative economic, health, and environmental impacts on communities.

These design and development principles can be applied to new development, urban infill and revitalization, and preservation. They can be applied to all scales of development in the full range of places including rural Main Streets, booming suburban areas, urban neighborhoods, dense city centers, and even entire regions.

New Urbanists want to see those human-scale neighborhoods return. We create tools to reform zoning and street design and develop underutilized building types—like shopfront houses and courtyard units—that contribute to diverse neighborhoods. We advocate for villages, towns, and cities consisting of neighborhoods designed around a five-minute walk from center to edge. These ideas are fundamental to New Urbanist thinking.



The principles of New Urbanism can be applied increasingly to projects at the full range of scales from a single building to an entire community.

1. Walkability

-Most things within a 10-minute walk of home and work
-Pedestrian friendly street design (buildings close to street; porches, windows & doors; tree-lined streets; on street parking; hidden parking lots; garages in rear lane; narrow, slow speed streets)
-Pedestrian streets free of cars in special cases

2. Connectivity

-Interconnected street grid network disperses traffic & eases walking
-A hierarchy of narrow streets, boulevards, and alleys
-High quality pedestrian network and public realm makes walking pleasurable

3. Mixed-Use & Diversity

-A mix of shops, offices, apartments, and homes on site. Mixed-use within neighborhoods, within blocks, and within buildings
-Diversity of people - of ages, income levels, cultures, and races

4. Mixed Housing

A range of types, sizes and prices in closer proximity

5. Quality Architecture & Urban Design

Emphasis on beauty, aesthetics, human comfort, and creating a sense of place; Special placement of civic uses and sites within community. Human scale architecture & beautiful surroundings nourish the human spirit

6. Traditional Neighborhood Structure

-Discernable center and edge
-Public space at center
-Importance of quality public realm; public open space designed as civic art
-Contains a range of uses and densities within 10-minute walk
-Transect planning: Highest densities at town center; progressively less dense towards the edge. The transect is an analytical system that conceptualizes mutually reinforcing elements, creating a series of specific natural habitats and/or urban lifestyle settings. The Transect integrates environmental methodology for habitat assessment with zoning methodology for community design. The professional boundary between the natural and man-made disappears, enabling environmentalists to assess the design of the human habitat and the urbanists to support the viability of nature. This urban-to-rural transect hierarchy has appropriate building and street types for each area along the continuum. 

The Transect
                                                                                                 More information on the transect

7. Increased Density

-More buildings, residences, shops, and services closer together for ease of walking, to enable a more efficient use of services and resources, and to create a more convenient, enjoyable place to live.
-New Urbanism design principles are applied at the full range of densities from small towns, to large cities

8. Smart Transportation

-A network of high-quality trains connecting cities, towns, and neighborhoods together
-Pedestrian-friendly design that encourages a greater use of bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, and walking as daily transportation

9. Sustainability

-Minimal environmental impact of development and its operations
-Eco-friendly technologies, respect for ecology and value of natural systems
-Energy efficiency
-Less use of finite fuels
-More local production
-More walking, less driving

10. Quality of Life

Taken together these add up to a high quality of life well worth living, and create places that enrich, uplift, and inspire the human spirit.

Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Strategic Plan Guidelines

         Version:  Word  PDF


This document is a guideline for communities that are considering developing strategic plans as required under the Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) legislation (Connecticut General Statutes, Sections 7-6-- through 7-607).

Under the Connecticut legislation which established NRZs, the state Office of Policy and Management (OPM) is charged with the responsibility of reviewing NRZ strategic plans. To ensure that the plans we receive are comprehensive and consistent with the intent of the legislation, we have designed this document to interpret the law in an easy-to-read manner and to describe the basic components which should be included in the strategic plan.

This document is organized as a series of questions and answers that reflect the kinds of questions that neighborhoods may have about NRZs. We have attempted to anticipate your questions about NRZs and to provide practical and useful answers. If you find that you have additional questions that are not addressed here, please contact Bruce Wittchen by email at or by phone at (860) 418-6323.

What are Neighborhood Revitalization Zones or NRZs?
In 1995, An Act Establishing a Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Process (P.A. 95-340) was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Rowland. This law -- the first of its kind in the nation -- established a collaborative process for communities to work with all levels of government to revitalize neighborhoods which have become substandard, unsafe and blighted. Amended in 1999(PA 99-35), the law now addresses how amendments to the strategic plan are done.

NRZs represent a new kind of partnership and cooperation between communities and government which shifts the impetus of planning to the local level and provides a mechanism for relief from burdensome state and local regulations.

The Office of Policy and Management and the Connecticut Economic Development Fund (CEDF) have created a pool of matching funds to support the NRZ program through technical assistance grants.  Assistance is provided in the form of consultant services and can be used for the Economic Development section of an NRZ's Strategic Plan, the development of studies and reports necessary for future development projects, or the development of a specific development project. CEDF engages such consultants and no funds go directly to local NRZs.  For further information about these mini-grants, contact David LeVasseur of OPM at (860) 418-6484 or Donna Wertenbach of CEDF at (888) 835-2333, extension 2080.

Document Specifications

To download the document, please select one of the available file type(s):

Format: Microsoft Word for Windows (Version 7.0)
File Type: (*.doc)
Length: 26 pages
File size: 56KB (uncompressed)
Click Here to Download: NRZ Guidelines

Online Viewing Option: Microsoft WordViewer is a small freeware application that enables users who do not own Microsoft Word for Windows® to view and print Word documents exactly as they appear in Word.
Click Here to Download: WordViewer

Format: Text File
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Click Here to Download: NRZ Guidelines

For Further Information, Please Contact:
Bruce Wittchen: phone (860) 418-6323 - fax (860) 418-6486 - e-mail

Content Last Modified on 5/13/2013 3:28:36 PM





Resource Guide to Concepts and Methods for Community-Based and Collaborative Problem Solving

June 2000

Prepared by

Marjory Ruderman, MHS

Women’s and Children’s Health Policy Center

Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health


The last two decades have seen a sort of convergent evolution of concepts related to community-based problem solving and the conditions necessary for community health and well-being. Researchers of different disciplines and orientations delineate constructs like community capacity, community competence, community empowerment, and community readiness. All attempt to capture at least some of the characteristics and resources that enable communities to participate successfully in problem solving. Coupled with these ideas are others related to community coalitions and other collaborative strategies to promote community-driven change.

Underneath the proliferation of terms surrounding community-based initiatives and community collaboratives are three basic principles: 

1) a population, rather than individual, approach to health promotion, 

2) acknowledgement of the effect of social environment on individual and population health status, and 

3) a recognition of the importance of changing health and related service systems in order to impact health status.1 Also central to most of these concepts is an assets-based approach to understanding communities, one cognizant both of the resources and skills a community brings to bear in addressing common needs and of the importance of enhancing the community’s ability to mobilize those assets.2

This resource guide brings together documents that contribute to the knowledge base about community resources promoting effective problem solving and health systems change, with a special emphasis on issues pertaining to the measurement of key constructs. The literature consolidated here provides guidance on assessing the community context to gauge: 

1) how community context will affect the development and success of initiatives, and, conversely,

2) how community-based systems initiatives may influence community capacity. To understand the potential effect of community context on a program, for example, a pre-implementation assessment of community readiness for intervention might provide important information for use in targeting resources and activities. Gauging the effects of collaborative/interagency initiatives on the community is a more complex endeavor; the literature as of yet offers little guidance for linking specific collaborative initiatives to population-based outcomes. This document summarizes recent progress in developing process and outcome measures for use in examining community collaboratives and documenting their impact.

This guide is organized into several sections. Part One introduces key concepts related to community-based program planning and evaluation, outlining the various ways different authors have elaborated these concepts. In Part Two, the sources included in this guide are matched to the concepts they explore for easy identification of resources of interest to the reader. An annotated bibliography of resources related to community-based and collaborative problem solving follows. This bibliography includes both references readily found in the research literature and “fugitive” documents that might not otherwise come to the reader’s attention. Part Three consists of expanded summaries of selected resources from the annotated bibliography. The resources chosen for expanded summary stand out as seminal works on practice-oriented concepts and/or methodological tools. Finally, Part Four lists internet resources that can serve as jumping off points for explorations of a broad range of concepts and activities related to community-based problem solving.

Publications were selected for inclusion in this Resource Guide according to three criteria:

· Broadly applicable: Concepts and methods are not limited to use with specific kinds of initiatives (e.g., substance abuse prevention programs, community development initiatives).

· Practical: Includes explicit descriptions of constructs or of measurement methods that can be adapted for other, similar uses.

· Adding to the knowledge base: Contributes to a broader understanding of key concepts and/or how to measure them.

Publications that are not included in this resource book are those that serve primarily as “how to” guides, such as those that detail steps to building community coalitions or mobilizing/empowering community members without also contributing to or reviewing salient conceptual or methodological approaches. However, all of the websites listed in Part Four provide access to publications and other resources for technical assistance in community-building activities.

The Johns Hopkins University Women’s and Children’s Health Policy Center (WCHPC) compiled this literature while designing several studies currently underway. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau asked the WCHPC to develop this Resource Guide to make what has been learned by the faculty and staff of the Center more readily accessible to local and state maternal and child health professionals, whose work daily involves aspects of the principles, concepts, and activities reviewed in this document. As performance measurement issues continue to move to the forefront of public health practice, access to this material may become increasingly valuable to public health administrators and managers.


Constructing a Needs Map

The Needs Map

This is the blank map on which to record the needs of  the community. The problems and deficiencies that come up in a workshop brainstorm can be loosely divided into three groups:

  • People and Practices
  • Local Associations and Institutions
  • Business and Physical Resources

Click here to access a blank map sheet

A Needs Map for a Rural Community in Asia

Needs in a rural community

Victims and handouts

Every community can generate a long list of needs and problems. This figure shows only a few. As more needs are added it is easy to start feeling like a victim and demanding handouts to help address problems.

But is victimhood a good starting point for innovative thinking?

As a reflection exercise compare the mood of a workshop after conducting a needs mapping and after conducting an assets mapping and discuss the difference.


Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities

America’s legacy cities, once industrial powerhouses and hubs of business, retail, and services, have been hit hard by suburbanization and the loss of their manufacturing industries. Cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh have lost more than half of their peak populations and are grappling with daunting social, physical, and economic challenges. Although all legacy cities face similar difficulties, each one is following a different trajectory.

While many continue to struggle, some, like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, have begun to regain vitality and find new and productive economic roles.

Successful regeneration is not about signature buildings or megaprojects, but about multidimensional change to the cities’ physical environments, their economic bases, and the social and economic condition of their residents to ensure that lower income and minority groups also benefit from the economic growth.

Legacy cities have many assets, including vital downtowns, historic neighborhoods, vibrant universities and medical centers, and rich cultural resources. To regenerate they must capitalize on these assets by changing their physical form to reflect a smaller population; restoring the city as a center of export-oriented economic activity; building a more dynamic, change-oriented approach to governance; and forging stronger regional and metropolitan relationships.

Intentional strategies are needed to unlock the potential of a city’s assets to make sustainable regeneration possible.

The model of “strategic incrementalism” begins with a shared vision of the city’s future from which leaders can make incremental, tactical decisions that will transform the status quo, while avoiding grandiose and unrealistic plans.

Nine other integrated strategies are recommended to foster change in legacy cities:

• Rebuild the central core.

• Sustain viable neighborhoods through targeted investments.

• Repurpose vacant land for new activities.

• Use assets to build competitive advantages.

• Re-establish the central economic role of the city.

• Use economic growth to increase community and resident well-being.

• Build stronger local governance capacity and partnerships.

• Increase the ties between legacy cities and their regions.

• Rethink state and federal policy toward legacy cities.

The decline of legacy cities has occurred over many years. Their regeneration will take as long, and will happen only by forging new policies and practices, and through sustained efforts by the nonprofit, private, and public sectors working together.






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Basic Needs
Brain Development
Collective Impact
Community Building
Community Schools
Definitions- terms
Determinants of Health
Faith Community
Healthy People 2020
Healthy people 2020 Resources
Health-Mental DHMAS
Home Visits
KINGDOM SOLUTIONS.US -- Is there a better way? - HOME
Kingdom Verses
Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Prevention Strategy

Public Opinion
Regional Solutions

Social capital

Sources for opinions
Social Genome Project
Protective Factors
Starting a not for profit
Summer Learning


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