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Lessons from leaving town

Posted: 5:27PM October 5th, 2012 | Comments

Annie and Jessie just returned from presenting at the Growing Sustainable Cities Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.  Two days later, we are still talking about this story:

It’s 1998, in Olympia, Washington. A 2 lane bridge needs to be replaced. The planners looked at traffic history and thought they should replace the bridge with 4 lanes to keep up with growth. Wait, the planners thought. What do we want the future to look like? We don’t want traffic to keep increasing at its current rates. What if we have more bike and pedestrian friendly infrastructure? Could this lessen traffic and make this area a more enjoyable community space?  What we do TODAY creates the FUTURE. So instead, let’s build a 3 lane bridge with a bike and ped lane and public art and vista points! Oh and by the way, this costs the same as that 4 lane bridge. Fast forward to today and traffic is not jammed. Bike traffic is regular. And the vista points are a common place for wedding photos!

 

This is a small example of the power of back casting, a skill The Natural Step teaches us how to use. Yes, Susatin Dane was founded in part because of the beauty The Natural Step Framework provides. And yes, we drove all the way Iowa to learn this story from our very own board member during a pre-conference workshop! It’s funny how sometimes you have to leave town to learn lessons that are all around you...

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