Active Community Environment
is where we come together, voluntarily, and with good
heart, in our neighborhoods, cities, regions, and
states to get active for the common good. In a true
community we don’t let race and economic differences
divide us. We don’t let our ‘busy-ness’
keep us from civic engagement. We find the way, and
the time, to speak out and act together.
Region-wide Communities in Action
Innovative, inclusive, region-wide policies get us
away from the extreme ‘other side of the highway’
policies that have driven other communities apart
over the last 50 years. David
Rusk, a leading light in the ‘regionalist’
school of planning, has demonstrated in his research
that, “mainstreaming poor minorities into middle
class communities slashes crime and delinquency, boosts
school performance, narrows the 'segregation tax'
that minority homeowners pay in the value of their
homes and eases fiscal burdens on city governments.”
It can be done. It has been done in economically successful,
and demographically diverse communities such as Montgomery
County, Maryland, Oak Park, Illinois and Madison,
Wisconsin and here’s
how they do it. People come together, hash out differences,
and make their ideas known while putting aside narrow
self-interest. They build neighborhood organizations.
They set up email lists. They volunteer for commissions.
They pester their elected officials. When the politicians
fail their community, they run for office themselves.
They get involved. As one Madison neighborhood activist
put it, ‘If you don’t like where you live,
don’t move—change it!”
Rusk rightly identifies that we are at a critical
juncture in history: “Now civil rights and environmental
activists are tentatively reaching toward each other
to change the rules that divide American society by
space and class.”