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Guest on The Infra Blog: Lynn Richards, President & CEO, Congress for the New Urbanism

Posted by Steve Anderson on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Lynn Richards, Center for the New UrbanismLynn Richards is President and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Previously, Richards had a long and distinguished career at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding multiple leadership roles over 13 years including Acting Director and Policy Director in the Office of Sustainable Communities. She worked with dozens of state and local governments to implement placemaking approaches by developing policies, urban design strategies, and environmental solutions for vibrant, prosperous neighborhoods. Additionally, she produced groundbreaking research on water and land use strategies.

Before joining the EPA, Richards worked briefly in the private sector at a consulting firm. She lived and worked in the former Soviet Republics from 1988 to 1995, helping environmental groups increase their organizational and political effectiveness.

Richards was awarded a Loeb Fellowship in Advanced Environmental Studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in the 2012-2013 school year. She has a dual Masters in Environmental Science and Public Affairs from Indiana University.

Smart Infra Investment Improves Communities
The U.S. is anticipated to grow by another 100 million by 2050. So there will be a need for new transit infrastructure. There will be a need for new streets and roads. There will be a need for new schools…We can use our infrastructure investment as a way of revitalizing cities and to bringing people back into the cities and to create…thriving economies.

Showing the Public What’s at Stake
It is difficult to generate political support around infrastructure investments when people don’t see the value of that investment…If you begin to move your water infrastructure up to the street level using a range of green infrastructure practices…you’re not only providing a storm-water infrastructure upgrade…but you’re also creating a constituency for that piece of infrastructure.

Getting People Involved in the Planning Process
I think that, in large part, we have many of the issues today because citizens haven’t been involved at the table…We need to enable the use of technologies where the single mother, after her child is in bed, can log online and opine on how she feels about the development that’s coming. And we need to enable the millennials to talk about how their community is changing.

Congress for the New Urbanism
The mission of CNU is to help build more great places. When you strip away everything else, we’re interested in designing and building places people love: places that are walkable, livable, where people thrive and economies prosper.

Download full transcript (PDF): Lynn Richards on The Infra Blog

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