Why Should We Have a Smart Growth Book Club?


1. Some people have never heard of smart growth. What a pity it is to be unaware that we’ve been sold an inefficient way of life, and that there’s a beautiful, simpler, less expensive way to live. This book club is a vehicle to raise awareness and do our part to build a critical mass in society that will effect change that will improve air quality, our health and create stronger communities.
2. It’s a forum for smart growth devotees to network and share information. Meeting together is an enjoyable and easy way to learn. We blog face-to-face, if you will, and get to know who else is out there striving for common sense in our communities. Smart growth is about community, right?
3. Together, we may brainstorm ways to practically make the Lehigh Valley a better place to live, work, play, and worship.
4. We can make ourselves available to help one another recalibrate our own communities. For example, we may share ordinances and codes which have worked, or even attend each others’ township meetings.
5. It is hoped that this will lead to local, bi-partisan community support, and commonsense behavior. Smart growth is a broad-based cause that I believe is supported by everyone who understands it. Conservatives ought to be behind it because it aids families and the economy and saves money. Liberals should back it since it is a framework for better social parity and environmental sustainability. The need for it reaches every person’s life.
6. And of course, the book club is an excuse to better educate ourselves and thus make better choices.

To date we have held two meetings, and the conversation has been enjoyable, enlightening, and encouraging. We’re still working through James Howard Kunstler’s Home from Nowhere, an engaging book that will draw in the novice as well as give talking points to the experienced. Our December meeting “covered” only the book’s first half, so in order to do it justice, let’s discuss the second half in January. As always, if you can’t read the book, you won’t be left out in the cold; your presence is important. We hope to see you at The Allentown Brew Works at 6 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 21! Please spread the word.
If possible, sign up on Facebook, or email Joanne Guth at joguth@live.com to let me know you’re going.

Posted on January 1, 2014, in Education, Events, Neighborhoods, Public Infrastructure, Urbanism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Peter Crownfield

    I’ve only read part of it, but I like Kunstler’s book because it brings a holistic view to what makes a vital and human-friendly city — and I think it makes clear that Bethlehem’s new ‘Community Revitalization & Improvement Zone’ [CRIZ] will not improve or revitalize the City; in fact, it will be destructive.

    The lack of understanding going into the CRIZ is perhaps best exemplified by the Benner project in SouthSide, which manages to go against nearly all Kunstler’s guidelines for smart planning & development. His guidelines are reflective of the planning lessons taught by Jane Jacobs over 50 years ago.

    Bethlehem’s CRIZ presents a great opportunity for advocates of Smart Growth & new urbanism to move beyond discussion and actually speak out about this destructive project and what should be done to truly revitalize SouthSide.

  2. Renew Lehigh Valley

    The best answer to the question, “Is it smart growth?” is found in the last chapter of Suburban Nation by Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Speck. It is a simple to use checklist. Let’s work with developers to support good decision-making and design and inform them of the potential they have of healing our communities through their work. Or, as Christopher Alexander writes in A New Theory of Urban Design, “Every increment of construction must be made in such a way as to heal the city.” (p.22)

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