August 2020 Issue
Sustainability in Northern New England
While all eyes are understandably on COVID-19 (see April 2020 issue,) other great planning efforts are also taking place in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. This issue highlights a few projects that are under way or recently completed on the topics of sustainability and resilience.
In Maine, the Cities of Portland and South Portland are working together on a joint climate action and adaptation plan, called "One Climate Future." Their joint goals are to work to be inclusive,
vibrant communities that provide opportunities for residents and businesses to
thrive in a changing climate. Their effort has included several online surveys as well as gathering data on the effects of climate change on Casco Bay, today and in the future.
This effort builds on a City of Portland Climate Action Plan from 2008, as well as climate action work from South Portland. Recognizing that climate impacts do not respect municipal boundaries, this effort looks at joint strategies and initiatives that will help both cities. The process includes assessing climate vulnerability across infrastructural, social, environmental, and economic systems; inventorying greenhouse gas emissions; modeling future emissions under a variety of action scenarios; launching a wide range of online and in-person engagement activities designed around inclusivity and equity; facilitating stakeholder workshops; developing a set of strategies and framework for action; and producing the One Climate Future Plan in tandem with sowing the seeds for ongoing plan implementation, climate conversations, and community action. Project team members include Integral Group, Kim Lundgren Associates, Woodard & Curran, and Carl Eppich.
The vulnerability assessment conducted as part of this work highlights the challenges:
"Portland and South Portland will continue to experience greater shocks and stresses related to climate change. “Shocks” refer to acute events that occur in a specific period of time, such as a powerful storm or a heat wave. These events can lead to business closures, transportation interruptions, and/or require enacting emergency management systems to keep residents safe. “Stresses” refer to chronic conditions—challenges that will affect us gradually on a daily basis, such as nuisance flooding, rising food prices, or worsening air quality. These conditions can strain household resources as well as our health and well-being. Both acute shocks and chronic stresses related to climate change will become more problematic when they overlap with other chronic stresses people face in their daily lives. These could include illnesses, financial insecurity, or poor-quality housing."
Toward a Resilient Nashua
In conjunction with their upcoming Comprehensive Plan effort (Imagine Nashua 2040), the City of Nashua established the Livable Nashua initiative to provide a dashboard for measuring progress towards sustainability goals.
Nashua's Director of Emergency Operations Justin Kates describes it as a good effort but one that needed to factor in additional issues:
"We realized that the initiative could not be successful unless resilience was considered in all facets of municipal operations, community planning and future capital investments. The city undertook a multi-year planning process that identified important social institutions within the community, the associated buildings and infrastructure crucial to those institutions, and the threats and hazards facing those components of the built environment. The result was a comprehensive community resilience strategy that planned and prioritized actions to reduce risk today as well as those that could be quickly implemented after a disaster."
As a next step, the City hired its first Community Resilience Coordinator. Kates descibes why this role was so helpful:
"The new coordinator brought an urban planning background to the job and became responsible for building a collaborative resilience planning team. The team brought together a diverse community of stakeholders ranging from the soup kitchen to the country club and the city engineer to community businesses.
Community members who could not attend meetings provided feedback to the project team using the city’s coUrbanize crowdsourcing platform. The Resilient Nashua Initiative’s focus on holistic community resilience brought many stakeholders to the table that likely would not have participated in a more conventional hazard mitigation plan update."
Nashua's effort also included holding "Resilience Dialogues" that provided online public-private collaboration that works to build climate-resilient communities through facilitated conversations among scientists, practitioners, and community leaders. As a member of the National League of Cities (NLC) Leadership in Community Resilience 2018 Cohort the City was able to learn from peer communities. Nashua's Mayor also hosted a summit to help explore the issue of future climate impacts in southern New Hampshire.
Volunteers Collecting Urban Heat Island Data for VT Dept of Health Heat Mapping ProjectEven in Northern New England, urban areas can feel much hotter than the surrounding rural areas. Increased absorption and retention of heat in “urban heat islands” is caused by a relatively high density of roads and rooftops combined with a lack of vegetative cover. During an early summer heat wave in 2018, four Vermonters died in homes without air-conditioning, with all four deaths occurring in urban areas. In response, and with support from the NOAA Climate Program Office, the Vermont Department of Health is working with cities and towns in Chittenden County to improve our understanding of urban heat effects and to develop appropriate mitigation strategies. Volunteers will collect temperature data by car or bike during three time periods on one hot day. The data will then be sent to a contractor and combined with other remotely-sensed data to develop high-resolution heat maps for the urban areas of Chittenden County. We will use the findings to work with communities and other partners to raise awareness of urban heat risks, support targeted heat illness prevention strategies such as community cooling centers in high-risk neighborhoods, and plan for long-term urban heat mitigation strategies such as increasing urban tree cover. Learn more about this project at www.healthvermont.gov/climate/heat-island, where results will be shared later this year.
NNECAPA 20/20: Vision Check
Lessons in Hindsight, Planning with Foresight
2020’s conference theme was announced before the year’s events truly began to unfold. The Conference Committee saw an opportunity with the turning of a decade—one that was often regarded as “the future”—for reflection on and evaluation of planning tools and the profession. We issued an unusually open-ended call for sessions, inviting ideas that would help us consider the usefulness and outcomes of planning and community development practices, as well as who “we” are as planners and how we serve our communities.
We truly never could have imagined the ways that 2020 would challenge us to live up to this theme.
When we made the decision to postpone our in-person conference this year, the Committee remained committed to working with NNECAPA and the Sections to offer professional development programming this fall. As we contemplated what form this could take, we ultimately decided that the best way to do this was to offer an abbreviated Virtual Conference. In light of the interrelated public health, economic, and racial justice crises that have taken on greater urgency this year, the Committee feels even more strongly about the timeliness and importance of this theme and a Chapter-wide event. We’re working hard to bring you a program that will allow us to reflect on these issues within the context of our everyday planning work.
We’re looking forward to kicking off the event with a discussion about Planning for Equity with Giovania “G” Tiarachristie and Tiffany-Ann Taylor, co-chairs of the APA NY Metro Chapter’s Diversity Committee and annual Hindsight Conference, and our own Chapter President, Sarah Marchant. We’ll also learn about putting the experiences of people of different ages, genders, abilities, races, and economic status at the center of planning and policy decisions with Katie Lamb, from the North Country Council.
Ivy Vann, of the Incremental Development Alliance, will reveal the “Dirty Dozen”—the outdated standards and remnants of zoning code that make it nearly impossible for us to implement the visions of our master plans. We will explore what massive disruptions to the tourism industry mean for Northern New England both in the immediate and long term. Sandra Pinel, PhD, AICP will share a framework for evaluating infrastructure interdependencies in order to effectively plan for hazard recovery. And Sharon Murray and Jeff Levine will help us wrestle with tough questions like “should planners be advocates, political actors, leaders… or unbiased advisors?”
The Virtual Conference will take place from 12-5pm on Wednesday, September 30, and 8am to 12pm on Thursday, October 1. The event will also include the NNECAPA Annual Business Meeting and the Chapter’s Awards Presentation.
We hope you’ll don your ‘work from home best’ and join us for these important conversations, virtual connections with your planning friends and colleagues, and of course—CM credits! Find more information, view sponsorship opportunities, and register today at: https://nne.planning.org/meetings/conference/
Vermont Planners Hold Virtual Book Group
Vermont planners gathered virtually this July to discuss The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, a book by Richard Rothstein. The group asked critical questions, shared personal experiences, and discussed actions that answer APA’s professional call to seek social justice by working to expand choice and opportunity, recognizing a special responsibility to plan for the needs of the disadvantaged and to promote racial and economic integration -- including urging the alteration of policies, institutions, and decisions that oppose such needs.
Vermont DHCD Launches Enabling Better Places: A Zoning Guide for Vermont Neighborhoods
The Department of Housing and
Community Development (DHCD) and the Congress
of the New Urbanism (CNU) is pleased announce the
completion of Enabling
Better Places: A Zoning Guide for Vermont Neighborhoods. This how-to manual promotes practical, small steps
that Vermont’s cities, towns and villages can take to address widespread
regulatory barriers that limit the choice of conveniently located homes
available at prices Vermont’s people can afford.
The guide culminates a year of work with six Vermont communities through the Project for Code Reform, CNU’s strategic initiative to support cities and towns as they reform outdated zoning codes in favor of more walkable urbanism. With financial support from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, AARP-Vermont, and the Vermont Association of Realtors, CNU worked with DHCD and Vermont’s Regional Planning Commissions to create the new guide, focusing on increasing housing access and affordability in walkable centers.
The guide emphasizes incremental changes that can have a big impact in a single neighborhood or area of town, making it easy for communities to create solutions right for their needs and circumstances. This focus helps local leaders test approaches, build political will, and gain community support as they go, before moving on to other reforms.
During this time of uncertainty and intense separation, the need for communities to come together to find new ways to adapt and become and resilient becomes even more important. We hope communities large and small can use the guide to expand access and inclusion in housing, increase vitality and transform into even better places for their residents, businesses, and visitors.
You can download the guide here.
New Ruralism Takes on Main Street
NNECAPA's New Ruralism Project is excited to announce a remote workshop session at this year's Radically Rural Conference. Titled 'New Ruralism: Making it on Main Street', the workshop will feature community stories from the project's newly-released nationwide series on case studies of New Ruralism. These new case studies looking beyond northern New England were made possible with a grant from APA's Small Town and Rural Planning Division. This year's Radically Rural conference includes sessions on arts and culture, clean energy, community journalism, entrepreneurship, land and community, and Main Street, with keynote speakers from SaveYourTown and Appalachian Partnerships, Inc. The gathering will be online this year so tune in on September 24th with folks across the country interested in dynamic and thriving small communities.
Tufts Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning Seeks Field Projects
Every year, the Tufts planning program takes on "field projects" for students to work on. These hands-on efforts allow students to learn about planning and policy practice, and provide clients high-quality research and planning products. Over the
course of a semester, first-year Master's students will work in groups
with community partners to produce substantive research. They are now accepting proposals for Spring 2021.
Saint Anselm College to Hold Event on "Building the Cities of the Future"
Do the best-functioning cities grow organically through
the market process, or do we need comprehensive planning to make sure we get
the right kind of development? Come see a robust exchange of views among some
of the top scholars and researchers working in this field nationally, and learn
about what it all means for the future of New Hampshire.
On August 10 at 5 pm., the College will host an on-line event featuring Harvard's Ed Glaser and other experts on the issue of the future of cities. Their event, titled "Building the Cities of the Future: More Markets or More Regulation?" is part of their "Building a Better New Hampshire" roundtable series. More information and registration here.
Burlington Planners Highlighted
June's edition of Planning Magazine highlighted the work of many planners nationwide in handling the COVID-19 crisis. Among those profiled were Burlington's Planning Director David White, FAICP, and Principal Planner Meagan Tuttle, AICP.
LaFleur moves to Community Heart & Soul
On June 1, 2020, Jane Lafleur became the Senior
Director at Community Heart & Soul. She leads a team that works with the
program’s partners, coaches, and champions to take Community Heart &
Soul to significantly more small cities and towns across America. She is
working out of her home office in Camden, Maine with frequent trips to
News from Downeast Maine
Thanks to Jim Fisher!
Sadly, Ellsworth Planner James E. Fitgerald (Jef) passed away in April from illness (https://www.ellsworthamerican.com/maine-news/late-city-planner-shaped-plans-trails/) .
Ellsworth recently hired Theresa Oleksiw as their new
City Planner. (https://www.ellsworthamerican.com/maine-news/new-city-planner-envisions-updating-comprehensive-plan-and-planting-more-trees/)
Judy East resigned her position directing the Washington County COG and took
on leading the Land Use Planning Commission.
Crystal Hitchings is now working for the Sunrise County
Economic Council (SCEC).
Jarod Farn-Guillette has been hired as the new
planner for the Hancock County Planning Commission and will be starting in
More Vermont News
Cymone Haiju moved to Vermont this spring to take her position as Planning Director for the Town of Milton. She moved from Georgia where she worked as a regional planner on rural transportation, MAP 21, and Community Services Block Grant administration. Cymone received her B.A. in Human Rights and Development from Wells College and her Master’s in Regional Planning from Cornell University. She has lived and worked in Mumbai, India and Bronx, NY as a researcher on housing and economic development and is thrilled to be serving at Milton and permanently settling in Vermont with her spouse.
Faith Ingulsrud, a planner in the VT Department of Housing & Community Development, is pivoting to new things after 26 years of service to the people and landscape of Vermont. Vermont planning grew in capacity under Faith’s steady contributions as a state planner. Many of Vermont’s local, regional, and state planners have Faith to thank for mentorship, thoughtful analysis built on diverse professional experiences, helpful trainings/resources, humble pragmatism, and creative problem solving. She more than capably stewarded the State’s Municipal Planning Grants and administered several of the State designation programs that re-focused planning and implementation on Vermont’s vital centers. Fellow planners look forward to following Faith’s future contributions and wish her well as she builds a home in Burlington.
Jared Ulmer, MPH, AICP, with the Vermont Dept. of Health, shared the arrival of his daughter, Greta Louse Ulmer on April 16. According to Jared, she is excited to be exploring Vermont’s beautiful trails and backroads this summer, though mostly so she can get in a bouncy nap.
Kate McCarthy, AICP, of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, along with her husband, Tom Leahey, and 5-year old son Will welcomed Jacob Spencer Leahey to the family on March 6. She reports that with the support of family and community, along with a flexible, family-friendly workplace, she has stayed safe and healthy as she adjusts to this unique time in the world and in their lives. Kate notes that while Jacob’s outfit is highly auto-oriented, they spent a lot of time walking around their hometown of Montpelier, and two of their favorite books are about buses!
South Burlington's City Planner Moves On
After 15 years, Cathy Larose has decided to step down this summer.
"This was not an easy
decision to make. I have long been proud of my ability to be a full time
working mother to young children, something unfortunately underrepresented in
the workforce and in the City. I’ve been lucky to have found amazing care for
my two boys throughout the last 15 years to allow me to be the best planner I
can be- it takes a village after all. The COVID pandemic has now turned that
balance on its head, restricting my options for safe and reliable child care,
and I cannot at this time be both a good parent and full time employee for the
I have met some of the most remarkable people in my time in South Burlington and through the VPA network, and especially my time serving on the VPA executive board. Some of you have been more than just colleagues to me. I hope our paths continue to cross. I’m not yet sure what my next adventure will be- keep me in mind if you’re ever looking for assistance on a project."
We all wish Cathy the best in her next adventures. Many Northern New England planners can relate to the challenge of working and keeping up with personal responsibilities, especially during this pandemic.
Will be back in Northern New England in 6700 years. Photos courtesy of Lee Krohn.
Lani Ravin's Officemate Updates Us
Lani Ravin at the University of Vermont brings us this report from her officemate:
"Lani, my step-mom, and JoAnn, my
mom, have been spending lots of time with me! We now spend all day
together. I help Lani work remotely every day by being quiet and
snoozing. I help Lani tend to her apocalypse garden, with 30 tomato
plants, by fertilizing the yard as much as I possibly can. We have lots of
excitement every day: we both perk up whenever someone shows up at the gate. I
wag my tail and Lani puts on this funny piece of cloth over her snout.
Overall, this is a great dog's life. I hope it goes on for a long, long time."
Donna Benton from Dover, NH, adds a Planner
City of Dover, NH's City Planner Donna Benton along with her husband,
Chris, and son, Scott (2.5), welcomed Erin Faith Benton in mid-June. The
Bentons are all healthy and happy.
NNECAPA Awards open through August 14
The Chapter recognizes planners, their work, and their contributions to the field of planning each year though the NNECAPA Awards program. Awards are presented, generally at NNECAPA’s Annual Conference, in the following five categories:
- Plan of the Year
- Project of the Year
- Professional Planner of the Year
- Citizen Planner of the Year
- Planner Emeritus- New Awards Category!
This year will be no different, except possibly the forum in which we present the awards.
The Awards Committee accepts nominations each year with a submission deadline this year of August 14th (review the eligibility requirements and criteria for each award category). The Sections automatically submit their annual awards winners to the NNECAPA Awards Program. The application form and criteria are here. For more information, contact the Awards Committee.Please help us honor innovation and commitment to planning by submitting your nominations today.