Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smart Growth Retains Young Talent

Our very own Nichole Strack was recently featured in the Hartford Courant's "FreshTalk" for her views on how Connecticut can improve its retention of young professionals:

"I live in Connecticut partly by choice, but mostly by coincidence.

I left Ohio to attend Trinity College in Hartford on a full scholarship. When I graduated, I faced two options. I could leave Connecticut and start fresh in Tampa, Fla., living for free with my favorite grandparent, or I could accept the job that I had been offered here.

I stayed.

I am now the voice of 1000 Friends of Connecticut, a coalition of smart growth advocates determined to curb sprawling development and improve our quality of life. One of the first conferences I attended in my new role posed a way to measure sustainability in Connecticut: How many 15- to 25-year-olds want to stay in the state after graduating from high school or college?

Now, seven months have passed and I cannot help but wonder, "Why do I want to live here?"

...Read the full op-ed at the Courant's web site.

Smart Growth = Economic Development

1000 Friends of Connecticut hosted the final event in its Speaker Series on Thursday, January 19, in the Great Hall of Union Station in downtown Hartford, featuring Tom Condon from the Hartford Courant and Commissioner Catherine Smith from the Department of Economic and Community Development. The overarching message that Smart Growth is economic development was heard by all throughout the evening. Moreover, the Smart Growth group demonstrated a shift in its own message as Tom Condon and Commissioner Smith highlighted not only what Smart Growth prevents, but what it produces.

Commissioner Smith spoke to using her agency to promote healthy cities, rational mass transit, and compact, walkable communities. She reported meeting regularly with the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Dept. of Transportation to ensure that moving forward, economic development happens around individuals and existing communities, as opposed to automobiles and parking lots.

If you missed the event, there are a few ways to catch up: You can read Tom Condon's opinion editorial, "Smart Growth is Economic Development," by clicking here, or you can watch the evening's program on CT-N.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DECD Commissioner to Outline Smart Growth Agenda


For more information, Contact:
Nichole Strack, Executive Director
1000 Friends of Connecticut
(860) 523-0003 or (860) 906-4020

HARTFORD, CT—Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, will outline her proposals for sustainable economic development in Connecticut on Thursday, January 19, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM in the Great Hall of downtown Hartford's Union Station. Special guest, Tom Condon of the Hartford Courant, who is known for his outspoken commitment to smart growth and improved quality-of-place, will moderate the event.

The event, sponsored by 1000 Friends of Connecticut, is the third in a series concerning the Malloy Administration's smart growth agenda. Previous events included talks by DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty and ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker, each of whom were asked to speak to how their offices can work together to promote a future in Connecticut marked by economic prosperity and environmental conservation.

“We are encouraged by the caliber of these Commissioners, their grasp of smart growth issues, and especially by their willingness to work with one another,” said Nichole Strack, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Connecticut. “We look forward to working with Commissioner Smith to make real progress on an agenda that includes revitalized downtowns, compact and walkable town centers, remediated brownfields, and the multi-modal transit options and smart-energy practices that create healthy, thriving regions.”

1000 Friends of Connecticut is a statewide organization whose mission is to promote and shape growth to ensure a prosperous economy, a healthy natural environment, and distinctive, integrated and attractive communities while promoting opportunities in education, housing, transportation, and employment for ourselves and future generations.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the group’s web site at www.1000Friends-CT.org.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Curbing Costs in Connecticut with Public-Private Partnerships

The Board and Staff at 1000 Friends of Connecticut recently asked over 4,000 of our followers if they thought Connecticut can "grow smart" now that strong leaders for our cause are in the Administration. Their responses are still streaming in, but the public at large leans towards wondering whether or not Governor Malloy and his executive agencies are "walking the walk," as opposed to just "talking the talk."

The Commissioners from the Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Transportation (ConnDOT), and Economic and Community Development (DECD) have risen above and beyond in terms of staying in the public's eye, but our Friends still want to know more. In theory, linking the environment with transportation, energy-efficiency and the economy makes perfect sense to everyone, especially as election season approaches. But what does it look like in practice?

At Connecticut Transit (CTTRANSIT), it looks like a sixty-foot accordion on wheels. Just yesterday, Commissioners Esty of DEEP and Redeker of ConnDOT applauded the new "bendy buses," as they are known in Britain, for meeting the Federal EPA's 2010 near-zero emissions requirement.

According to CTTransit's web site, Commissioner Esty stated, "DEEP and DOT are working together to create a 21st century transportation network that is a key to rebuilding Connecticut's economy, creating jobs, and making our state an attractive place to live and work. The type of larger-capacity, low-emission bus being deployed ... will help us accomplish those goals--while protecting our air quality and the environment."

Two of these hybrid buses began service on Wednesday, January 11 in Hartford on Park Street and Farmington Avenue. They join CTTransit's fleet of nearly fifty diesel-electric buses and five hydrogen fuel-cell powered buses. In addition to that, their flexible centers allow for their greater size and safe turns, translating into more passengers on the bus and less vehicles mile travelled. The innovative design seats up to fifty-seven people with enough space left over for fifty-five standing passengers, and the interiors of the buses resemble what
one might see in Britain.

The costs of the new buses were fully covered by Federal funds, exemplifying the very opportunities that 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Speaker Series has aimed to highlight. This cross-sector partnership between the privately-owned CTTransit with ConnDOT and DEEP is essential to furthering a Smart Growth agenda that makes real progress in areas including rational mass transit, enhanced energy practices, and the land-use decisions that support them; however, where do the revitalized downtowns and compact, walkable communities come into play? Join 1000 Friends of Connecticut on Thursday, January 19 at Union Station in Hartford and learn how Commissioner Smith's vision for the Department of Economic and Community Development will complement it's sister agencies in a way that maximizes infrastructure investments in a sustainable manner.

For more information on 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Speaker Series, click here.

CTTRANSIT is the ConnDOT-owned bus service serving Greater Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford. Read CTTRANSIT's press release on their new hybrid-electric 60-foot articulated buses here, or contact Phil Fry at pfry@cttransit.com.