GrowSmart Maine’s 2019 Annual Summit Recap: Smart Growth Builds Wellness
Smart growth projects, planning, and policies create vibrant, walkable, job-rich downtowns surrounded by rural woodlands, productive farmland and waterfronts offering access to the Gulf of Maine. But a new recognition of the direct connections between smart growth and health takes this concept one step further and is generating innovative ideas on implementing smart growth in communities nationwide.
GrowSmart Maine’s October 24 summit, co-hosted by Biddeford and Saco and held at the Pepperell Mill focused on this connection. GrowSmart Maine brought together Zoe Reich Margarites, Vice President at International Well Building Institute and Christopher Coes, Vice President of Land Use Development at Smart Growth America and director of LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors to compare ideas on how strategies linking smart growth and personal, community and global health can benefit Maine people and communities.
Additional sessions addressed the importance of sustainable and equitable infrastructure, health-focused housing, food systems and wellness. These were:
- Equity, Access, and Connectivity: Common Threads in Transportation and Smart & Connected Infrastructure
- Municipal Housing Toolkit: Housing for Healthy Communities
- How can Health and Smart Growth Systems Work Together Toward Wellness?
- Food Insecurity and Sustainable Food Waste System
Afternoon City Experience tours zoomed in on the methods host communities Biddeford and Saco have used to engage residents and generate economic activity during their recent revivals.
- Riverwalk: Trail of Two Cities
- Discover Biddeford’s Food Eco-System
- Powered by the Sun: Pepperell Mill’s Journey to Solar Energy
- Growing Community Through the Arts: Greater Health through Social Cohesion
- How to Make Zoning More Effective, Exciting, and Engaging
- What’s the Scoop with Saco? Main Street, Downtown Projects, and What Ice Cream Has to Do With it
After the City Experience tours Judith Meyer, Editor, Sun Media Group presented an engaging presentation, “Journalism, Truth and Healthy Communities” defining the connections between engaged local journalism and healthy communities.
The day wrapped up with the announcement of this year’s smart growth award recipients. This year’s winners showcase practical solutions to such challenges as the need for affordable housing, rebuilding downtowns and conserving land for public use. The winners were:
- Outstanding Project Award: Millinocket Real Estate Initiative/The Northern Forest Center
- Demonstrable Commitment to Smart Growth: Delilah Poupore, Heart of Biddeford
- Outstanding Project Award: Bethel Community Forest/Mahoosuc Pathways
- Outstanding Project Award: Parris Terraces, awarded to Kaplan Thompson Architects
- Outstanding Project Award: Charter Oaks Cooperative
Jodi Castallo, Community Outreach Director
Jodi Castallo, Community Outreach Director for GrowSmart Maine, first moved to Maine in 1997. Working with communities has been the basis of her career, and is also her passion. Her work with communities, both in and out of Maine, on important issues such as sea level rise, rural economic development, community engagement and facilitation, land use and the environment, adds to her focus on supporting Mainers as they determine the future of their communities.