Representatives from eight cities gathered at Portland’s Ecotrust building Tuesday for the start of a workshop designed to train municipal leaders on the art of neighborhood revitalization.
The group EcoDistricts, formerly known as the Portland Sustainability Institute, is hosting urban planners and community leaders hoping to learn a bit about sustainable city tenets. The three-day EcoDistricts Incubator event includes representatives from Bend, Burlington, Vt., Cambridge, Mass., Charleston, S.C., Denver, Oakland, Orlando, Fla. and San Diego. The event also hosted several federal government representatives from throughout the country.
The EcoDistricts Incubator will help each of the cities tackle a different EcoDistrict project. For instance, in Bend, city planners want a major couplet that connects the established downtown with the city’s historic residential neighborhoods and erstwhile industrial lands.
Several local leaders are playing leading roles at the event. For instance, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Portland Democrat, told attendees that notions of urban sustainability are in many ways a throwback to how cities operated in the past. Blumenauer, an avid cyclist, added that Portland has boosted its biking levels — its 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths helped it top Bicycling Magazine’s list of top cycling cities — organically.
“We have not framed it as a choice,” Blumenauer said. “We made it convenient, attractive and hip. We never actually declared war on the automobile, but this is a community that decided not to surrender to it.”