If there is one thing that makes me anxious and stressed, it’s the future of humanity. I often question if we are adapting quickly enough before we begin to experience even far more severe climatic shifts. It is not that I am pessimistic; I just choose to accept that climate change is more than a theory and I am anxious to see how we can reverse the effects of anthropocentric climate change. This is when I became aware of the power in urban planning and advocacy.
Development is inevitable, especially in cities like Seattle where population is expected to increase. In 1990, the state of Washington passed the Growth Management Act (GMA), making it mandatory for cities to plan for development and growth 20 years in the future. This law brought forth the establishment of a board committee to create a watchdog organization that would enforce the laws of the GMA, today known as Futurewise. If cities have not established comprehensive plans, then Futurewise will assist in compiling their comprehensive reports. We are heavily involved in community outreach, often conducting surveys from homeowners and business owners to discuss what creates a great quality of life. We then compile the surveys and create reports to submit to the city’s department of planning. We also advocate on the behalf of the community, often suggesting services that a community can benefit from.
Futurewise is very transit oriented and works in communities that are adjacent to major transit connectors. Part of being transit oriented is being focused on creating livable communities. If you recall on my last post, Futurewise attempts to create communities that make it easy to live without a car. Futurewise understands that the population is increasing and we cannot stay idle as demand for housing, transportation route, and access to public services increases. We actively take a role in a city’s planning process and suggest to them smart growth policy.
This was a fantastic summer and Futurewise provided with me experiences I could never learn or gain from academic settings. For those who are considering domestic programs or Seattle, I would still choose this program if I could apply again.
Duke Student '14