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Livability For the Rest of Us

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Discussions of livability typically focus exclusively on urban living, yet 20% of the country lives in rural areas or small towns. As speaker Rachel Goslins pointed out at Partners’ "Building Livable Communities” forum,  “It’s not necessarily true that a livable community is a city.” Goslins, the executive director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, asked us all to consider what livability means for small towns and what urbanites can learn from them.

Her observation is a fitting one. Small towns fare well in many aspects of livability, boasting low crime rates, access to natural amenities, affordable housing and land, ease of mobility (for most), and engaged citizens with a strong sense of community. Yet there are many barriers to livability in small towns, as they strive to deal with changing demographics, the decline of traditional industries, environmental damage, and deteriorating infrastructure. These woes may sound familiar to residents of any size city, but the effect and the solutions for small towns are often different. Long distances between amenities, limited resources, and negative stereotypes about rural America can make these challenges more difficult to surmount. 
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Leveraging Youngstown State University

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How does a city aspire to be livable when the outside public seemingly brands it as ‘dying?’ How does the city grow when it is told that is 'shrinking’? With eyes that are turning away from the core industrial cities and onto the technological hubs of the twenty-first century: can the city sustain itself?

For Mayor Jay Williams of Youngstown, OH, hearing his city being labeled by Forbes Magazine as one of  Americas 10 Fastest-Dying Cities, inspired him to take the city in a new direction; one that leveraged successful development upon its own definition.

At the “Building Livable Communities” forum held at Washington, DC's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on September 22, 2010, Mayor Williams held a detailed discussion on how civic institutions in Youngstown redefined their role to promote dynamic change as amenity rich centers.
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Artists vs. Blight

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President of Partners for Livable Communities, Robert McNulty, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal article “Artists vs. Blight ,” discussing artist occupations of blighted homes and neighborhoods in transitioning communities such as Cleveland and Detroit.
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Livability to the Rescue

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The American Society of Landscape Architect’s weekly blog, “The Dirt: Connecting the Built and Natural Environments,” posts detailed highlights from “Building Livable Communities: Creating a Common Agenda,” Partner’s recent Forum in collaboration with the Hirshhorn Museum.  Recapping the panel of Federal officials including HUD, DOT, and their overlapping agendas to create an “infrastructure for livability” through “interdependencies,” the blog also includes highlights from the speakers representing local government, non for profit agencies, and corporate entities. The Dirt showcases some of the newest ideas and agendas surrounding the national livability framework presented at the forum. Read about it here
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Partners Presents Statewide Agenda on Culture Builds Communities

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On August 18th, 2010, Partners President Robert McNulty and Partners Trustee and former Florida Secretary of State and Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood hosted a workshop for over 150 attendees of the annual Florida League of Cities conference in Hollywood, Florida. Entitled “Culture Builds Community,” the 3-hour session explored how in these hard times for local governments and public finance, communities can mobilize a team of new players to support cultural and heritage resources as key infrastructure for their citizens, quality of life, and their ability to attract new investment.

Workshop participants learned how to:
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