EcoDistricts commits to advancing district-scale sustainability work in ten (10) projects across North America over two years through an innovative pilot program called 'Target Cities'. Through this program, EcoDistricts has targeted cities experiencing significant change, either through shifting demographics, new infrastructure investment (such as light-rail or the development of a new industry cluster), or environmental and social stress. All of the cities chosen have a shared vision, a focus on sustainability at the heart of their mission, strong support and involvement of their municipal government and the desire to think strategically about how to work as team, across sectors, to get sustainability projects delivered.
The ten (10) selected projects are:
Talbot-Norfolk-Triangle Eco-Innovation District, Codman Square, Boston MA
Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA
Sun Valley, Denver, CO
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA
DowntownDC ecoDistrict, Washington, D.C.
St Elizabeth's Campus / Congress Heights, Washington, D.C.
Southwest Ecodistrict, Washington, D.C.
The Isles, Ottawa, ON, Canada
AUC Vine City Ecodistrict, Atlanta, GA
Westbrook Place Neighborhood, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada (Intent to Participate)
EcoDistricts will provide technical assistance by helping to undertake a strategic engagement and governance process that will result in the formation of a decision-making body at each Target City with collaboration at its core. They will also guide the development of an integrated infrastructure master plan that not only embraces existing goals and targets but sets new inspirational sustainability goals. A roadmap and pipeline of projects will be created for each Target City which will include any necessary business planning for deploying the strategies.
More than forty (40) organizations have been assembled across the ten (10) projects listed above to help fund and allocate organizational capacity to the Target Cities program. Beyond direct financial contributions, some these organizations will contribute technical skills, research capacity and project management support. They will participate in exchanging information among projects, spend time raising the investment needed to delivery strategies, and assist in the monitoring of performance.
EcoDistricts has developed the pilot program to provide ten (1) communities and cities with a Framework and technical assistance support to create more socially just, environmentally sustainable and economically resilient cities from the neighborhood up. This support will come through the use a numerous tools, such as collaborative governance workshops, district assessment methodologies, Road Map templates, and monitoring dashboards and platforms. The EcoDistricts Protocol, a major output of the program, uses an inclusive and transparent multi-stakeholder collaborative approach to establish the planning process, set clear project priorities and implement a development plan to create just, resource efficient and healthy neighborhoods.
This next generation urban development pilot program is a matching program, whereby projects contribute financially, with EcoDistricts matching those funds with foundation support that has been committed for Target Cities from Surdna, Kresge and Summit Foundations, to deliver a two-year program of technical assistance, peer learning and marketplace development. The commitment to each City will come to a closer after the two-year agreement; however, significant time will be spent establishing conditions for extended development within the City and may involve joint fundraising and assistance in developing a longer-term investment strategy. EcoDistricts aims to work with the Target Cities to double the number of pilot projects within two years.
A network of implementation partners, collaborators and technical experts has been assembled to work with the pilot projects. The implementation partners or private and third sector organizations (eg. Community Enterprise Partners) who are actively contributing financial resources and in-kind to help accelerate the deployment of strategies. Our network of collaborators are a combination of private, public and third sector organizations who will provide support to the Target Cities participants, through research activities (eg. Brookings Institution), information exchange (eg. Smart Cities Council) and knowledge management. The Technical Experts assembled will provide director technical support to project teams when identifying, assessing and delivering technical strategies within the districts and neighborhoods. These implementation partners, collaborators and technical experts are both nationally serving and in some cases, locally specific to the Target Cities projects.
For each 'Target City', the following phases of project development are planned:
Phase 1 - Mobilization and Inception (These workshops will occur between July and August 2014.)
An Inception Workshop will be delivered for each project to commence the program to bring together key stakeholders who will form the leadership group for the project. This workshop will determine the current status of the project (planning process, investments, and proposals) and what the key tasks are for the project in the coming years. The outcome of this workshop will be the development and approval of a tailored Target Cities Project Plan.
Phase 2 - Implementation (These workshops will occur between September and November 2014.)
There are four key intensive workshops associated with the Implementation Phase of the program, these are:
A District Organization Workshop will be the first workshop delivered after the Inception Workshop. This workshop will focus on establishing a governance model for the project that best positions it for strong leadership and deployment of integrated sustainability strategies. This workshop will result in a confirmed governance model for the district or neighborhood.
The District Assessment Workshops for each project will be carried out between October 2014 and March 2015. This workshop will project the project teams with a process for developing a baseline of conditions for the project, the establishment of goals and targets and the development of an EcoDistricts Roadmap of project priorities.
A District Projects Workshop will be facilitated to assist each project establish the necessary business case, feasibility and financing models for deploying strategies. These workshops will be facilitated between April and July 2015.
A final program workshop on District Management will be undertaken between August and December 2015 to assist each project establish an ongoing framework for district monitoring, reporting and continual strategy deployment.
Between each workshop over the two years each project will receive ongoing strategic technical support, participate in monthly peer-to-peer learning webinars and gather to exchange success at key EcoDistricts conveneing (such as the annual EcoDistricts Summit)
Many communities across the United States are facing the destructive realities of climate change, declining public health and increasing poverty, among other challenges. The form and function of urban cities are rapidly changing and it is vital to take action now in order to guide this change in the right direction and renew cities to be more sustainable.
By adopting a proactive, solutions-oriented approach to confront some of the most pressing problems impacting communities, cities can fight growing income inequality and environmental resource depletion to build prosperous and healthy neighborhoods. However, urban regeneration is a complex process requiring multiple solutions. Public policy is often a barrier to activating successful outcomes, true collaboration is difficult to achieve, and district and neighborhood leadership is lacking. Successful technical solutions tend to be isolated, single-issue focused, and capital intensive. The rate of successful, integrated, and equitable urban regeneration is thus stifled.
The EcoDistricts Target Cities program will address key barriers and challenges including but not limited to: (1) how to plan for all generations, as demographics are shifting and more people, including young families and the elderly are choosing to live in cities; (2) addressing food access issues like food deserts, or 'swamps' where affordable, and healthy food access is low, and there is little connection to where food comes from; (3) working towards fixing a broken transportation system, which currently values the automobile over 'place' and a variety of transit options for residents; (4) prioritizing affordable housing for lower income residents; (5) catalyzing engagement in a time where residents feel disempowered, socially disconnected or simply don't have the time to participate in traditional public process; (6) ensuring underserved communities have the opportunity to participate and prosper in economic advancement, health, and education; and (7) delivering buildings and infrastructure with a low carbon footprint, ensuring they are integrated and meet deep reductions in natural resource consumption.
EcoDistricts is seeking partners and collaborators to add to our network of technical assistance experts who can add support and guidance to the seven Pilot projects across the country. Technical assistance collaborators are needed across all fields, from energy, to food systems, to transportation and equity. They are also seeking additional financial support to add to grants from the Surdna, Kresge, and Summit Foundations.
The Target Cities pilot program offers other cities and projects the opportunity to participate in a matching program that builds a cohort of sustainable urban regeneration models. We offer technical assistance, access to world-class experts, partners and collaborators.