Your Invited! What would make a Sustainable Urban Village in Santa Fe, such a great place, you’d move in?!

The September issue of the Green Fire Times is a compilation of ideas and visions on Sustainable Urban Villages.

How do we make sustainable real? How do we have a high quality lifestyle and yet lower our impact on the planet? How do we grow our economy and yet lower our consumption?

Our proposed answer is in creating a smart infill project,  a deeply affordable Sustainable Urban Village (SUV); a lively, 3-4 story, mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood with enough density to make the commercial successful, say 5000 residents within walking distance.

As to the question of how to make it real, well that’s where collaboration comes in, and you’re invited to join in.  Share this invitation with your friends and networks!  Together, we can make sustainable real!

Image courtesy of Spears Architects. An image from the City of Santa Fe’s St Michaels Drive- Visions of the Future.

For more St. Michael’s Boulevard images click here.

Suburban sprawl could well have run its course.  It’s time for something new to emerge and resurrect the economy.  Polls have shown that 1/3 of the Boomers are looking for a simpler, walkable lifestyle, and 88% of their children, the “Millennials” want to live in a creative, alive urban environment. 9000 Santa Feans currently commute to their jobs in town. Many of these people (and others) would welcome an alternative to car-dependent sprawl.  This sizable unmet market demand could help the emerging sustainable economy….emerge!

Because this is a new market, your ideas and visions are key; Design it to your specs and needs, and I believe the architecture, planning, construction, and financial industries will work to make it real!

What  would make this neighborhood so compelling, so supportive and fun, that you’d move in??!!

Brian Skeele, Aug 10, 2011

Located Where?

To give these sorts of visionary ideas a place to focus, let’s look at an area in Santa Fe that has the potential to actually be transformed for the betterment of residents and businesses. With 72% paved parking area, Rail Runner access (commuter train), vacating car dealerships, an art/design college at one end, a  hospital at the other end, and nearby Santa Fe High, De Vargas Middle School, an elementary school, and Llano Library, St Michaels Drive is a good choice for visions of a major redesign. Other location possibilities could be Zia Station, Airport Road, Indian School on Cerrillos, or any of the streets that cross the Rail Runner (see Rail Corridor Study).

SUVs can exist in rural, suburban, as well as urban locations. The key is to have the commercial and services supported by the residential. Locating the shopping/services/residential within pedestrian-friendly distances, makes car-free households a viable option. Not having to purchase, maintain, fill up, and insure a car is a substantial savings, and frees up disposable income for a wide range of benefits, such as local food, professional development and entrepreneur start up, etc. This kind of smart infill density also creates a healthier, walking lifestyle and safer streets with neighbors out and about on foot and bicycle.

In a rural community, farming families and farm employees need affordable lifestyles, including affordable housing, transportation, land, water, organic fertilizer, etc. A high density Sustainable Urban Village gives a farming community the best of both worlds, a deeply affordable, creative urban neighborhood in a rural setting. The variety can’t help but entice future generations in continuing an agricultural tradition with a supportive modern context.

Similar dynamics exist in a suburban environment. Evolving your burb into a pedestrian-centered lifestyle will increase the vitality and resiliency of the community.  Co-locating services, housing, learning, recreation and work lessens the barriers created by suburbia, and naturally strengthens the connections of community.

Benefits / Why

If Santa Fe was to create a SUV, the benefits could well be substantial;

  • A deeply sustainable demonstration showcase site would create a compelling destination attracting eco tourists, students, government officials, and business owners from around the world,  such has happened in Gussing, Austria.
  • Economic growth- Gussing, a sleepy agricultural town of 4000, flourished as part of their sunflower crops and woods became sustainably harvested for biofuels. Many companies focusing on sustainability, relocated (50 companies) and 1000 new jobs were created.
  • a significant revival of the local construction industry.
  • the development of Santa Fe’s capacity to collaborate, now and into the future as opportunities arise.
  • a Pathways curriculum, hands on, relevant learning, giving high school students the real world challenges that deeply respect and call forward their innate capacity.
  • Neighborhoods can once again become vibrant and alive- with safe, pedestrian- friendly streets and a simpler lifestyle supporting rich diversity; a mix of incomes and housing, young families and retirees, employers and employees, artist and patrons – a lifestyle that’s based on real, lasting values; a lifestyle that’s good for people, good for the planet, and good for the polar bears!
The flyer here, is still informative and will give you a sense of the opportunity before us. 

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