What would keep Northfield a livable community?

Editor's note: We don't usually promote events outside Northfield. But there have been so many discussions recently on this topic, we thought it was relevant. 

On Thursday, September 21, AIA (American Institute of Architects) Minnesota will present "Livable Communities - A Town Hall Forum" for mayors, civic leaders, architects and design professionals, exploring livable communities and encouraging dialogues for creating them in Minnesota.

The AIA Minnesota kickoff event to AIA national’s sesquicentennial (AIA150) in 2007, aims to begin the larger picture discussion and education on livable communities.  By defining the term “livable communities” not only for civic leaders and architects, but also for the media and public in Minnesota, we hope to have far-reaching effects on communities.  A host of perspectives from AIA National, AIA Honolulu, the city awarded most livable in 2004 by the United Nations endorsed International Awards for Livable Communities; Minnesota mayors and AIA Minnesota’s Minnesota Design Team, will provide the depth and broad exploration of the subject necessary to bring creative, sustainable ideas to Minnesota communities.

Ben Lee, FAIA, former Managing Director of the City and County of Honolulu and author of The Renaissance of Honolulu, will frame the discussion by highlighting Honolulu’s path toward livability, noting the specific roles of the people involved in creating it.  These serve as examples and insight for individuals to strengthen their leadership in building sustainable and vibrant communities in Minnesota.

Livability101, a book outlining AIA’s 10 Principles for Livable Communities, handed out at the forum, will guide the continuing discussion as four Minnesota mayors showcase how their communities have developed a vision for the future and engaged in a successful process with architects.

Mayors presenting include Ardell F. Brede, Mayor, Rochester; Chris Coleman, Mayor, St. Paul; Elizabeth Kautz, Mayor, Burnsville and RT Rybak, Mayor, Minneapolis.  They will all address three principles of their choice to give the audience insight into all of the ten principles from Encouraging Mixed-Use Development to Protecting Environmental Resources.

After an exploration from the civic side, Beverly Dougherty, Project Coordinator for Willmar Design Center and Julie Rath, Economic Development Specialist, Redwood Area Development Corporation, will address the Principles for Livable Communities through presentations on their communities. Both success stories are the result of pairing with the Minnesota Design Team (MDT), developing shared community visions since 1983 to nearly 100 communities. The Town Hall Forum hopes to attract over 300 attendees including mayors, civic leaders, architects, design professionals, public and media from Minnesota’s urban, suburban and rural communities.  

Reservations are $25 and must be received by Monday, September 18, 2006. The event takes place on Thursday, September 21, from 2:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. at the U of M, McNamara Alumni Center, Minneapolis Campus, 200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Make reservations and get more event information at and reference for more information at www.aia.mn.org.

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Ten Principles for Livable Communities

Good resource - kudos to Anne and Northfield.org for calling attention to the forum. The AIA principles are:

1. Design on a Human Scale
Compact, pedestrian-friendly communities allow residents to walk to shops, services, cultural resources, and jobs and can reduce traffic congestion and benefit people's health.

2. Provide Choices
People want variety in housing, shopping, recreation, transportation, and employment. Variety creates lively neighborhoods and accommodates residents in different stages of their lives.

3. Encourage Mixed-Use Development
Integrating different land uses and varied building types creates vibrant, pedestrian-friendly and diverse communities.

4. Preserve Urban Centers
Restoring, revitalizing, and infilling urban centers takes advantage of existing streets, services and buildings and avoids the need for new infrastructure. This helps to curb sprawl and promote stability for city neighborhoods.

5. Vary Transportation Options
Giving people the option of walking, biking and using public transit, in addition to driving, reduces traffic congestion, protects the environment and encourages physical activity.

6. Build Vibrant Public Spaces
Citizens need welcoming, well-defined public places to stimulate face-to-face interaction, collectively celebrate and mourn, encourage civic participation, admire public art, and gather for public events.

7. Create a Neighborhood Identity
A "sense of place" gives neighborhoods a unique character, enhances the walking environment, and creates pride in the community.

8. Protect Environmental Resources
A well-designed balance of nature and development preserves natural systems, protects waterways from pollution, reduces air pollution, and protects property values.

9. Conserve Landscapes
Open space, farms, and wildlife habitat are essential for environmental, recreational, and cultural reasons.

10. Design Matters
Design excellence is the foundation of successful and healthy communities.

Should really be eleven principles

11. The right to quiet
Improve and preserve the citizens' quality of life, and the town serenity, by reducing noise pollution.