Mayor John Robert Smith of Meridian, Mississippi, has been named President and CEO of the national nonprofit Reconnecting America. He has served on Reconnecting America’s board for five years, and was a founding partner and board member of Reconnecting America’s predecessor organization, the Great American Station Foundation, voting to expand its mission and change its name in 2004.
Reconnecting America President and CEO Shelley Poticha has been appointed Senior Advisor for Sustainable Housing and Communities at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan made the announcement on Friday.
Changing demographics and housing preferences as well as concerns about quality of life are boosting the demand for walkable urbanism and transit-oriented development in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region as elsewhere in the U.S. The Twin Cities’ real estate market must be able to provide for this demand in order to preserve the region’s economic competitiveness, but a recent study by the Brookings Institution found the Twin Cities ranked below average in the number of “regionally significant walkable places.” Brookings found only two such existing places – the downtowns in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
As the Center for Transit-Oriented Development's report "Capturing the Value of Transit" pointed out, "Americans are increasingly prioritizing the advantages provided by neighborhoods near transit, including economic savings to households, reduced carbon emissions, healthier lifestyles, fewer traffic accidents, and reduced suburban sprawl."
Writer Matt Dellinger rode the Amtrak Zephyr line to the 17th annual Congress of the New Urbanism in Denver this year, and interviewed author William Lind over Brandy Alexanders and cigars on what was a 1,400-mile-New-Urbanist-salon-in-motion-on-Amtrak. Lind and Paul Weyrich, two conservatives noted here for their support of public transportation, wrote "Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation," which was published by Reconnecting America because we found it a most compelling argument for putting public transportation at the very top of the conservative (as well as liberal) agenda for reasons of national security and economic development.