We all know that today more and more people live in urban areas. In many ways, cities shape our world and our future. However, the fabric of every city is it's neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are where people connect, identify and commit to investing in their community. Neighborhoods are the landscape of our day to day lives and therefore, greatly shape our lifestyle.
For these reasons, a great opportunity for progress and engagement exist at the neighborhood level. Formerly known as Portland Sustainability Institute, EcoDistricts developed a model and a vision for creating sustainable cities from the neighborhood up. As described by this group of thought leaders:
"An EcoDistrict is a new model of public private partnership that emphasizes innovation and deployment of district scale best practices to create the neighborhoods of the future – resilient, vibrant, resource efficient and just."
You likely know the historic neighborhood of North Park, characterized as an arts, culture and entertainment district and a gem in San Diego. Last fall, North Park Main Street, both a business improvement district and a Main Street Program, began working to turn the vision of a more sustainable North Park into a full speed ahead community initiative.
Working with two key community partners- San Diego Gas and Electric and San Diego Green Building Council- and inspired by the EcoDistricts model, North Park EcoDistrict was launched in early 2013. North Park EcoDistrict aims to evolve as a neighborhood that collectively uses resources mindfully, embodies a thriving green economy, sustains it's historic nature, provides for the well-being of community members, nurtures the local environment, promotes equity in many fashions and inspires community members and other neighborhoods.
Today North Park exhibits many EcoDistrict qualities:
- Thriving arts community
- Farm-to-table restaurants
- Locally focused and mindful businesses
- Several EcoDistrict landmarks
NPMS has worked to install bike corrals, recycling receptacles, and very soon- a parklett will exist in front of the neighborhood favorite Caffé Calabria. (A parklett is a very neat urban invention that provides a small community green space by extending the side walk area and most often encompassing a 2-3 public street parking spaces.)
The North Park EcoDistrict initiative is meant to fully harness these community attributes and build upon them through public-private partnerships, community engagement and leadership.
Also happening in San Diego: A group of architect, planning groups and community members are envisioning an EcoDistrict in the Pacific Beach and Mission Beach community. San Francisco is also on its way with an EcoDistrict launched in the Central Corridor of San Francisco.
For more information or to get involved with local EcoDistrict efforts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Owens has been with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Residential Market Development team since 2008, overseeing a suite of international green building education programs. A local to the North Park – South Park area, she is excited to be part of the North Park EcoDistrict team. Her work includes progressive initiatives with an emphasis on market transformation, community and leadership.