Of the three legs of the Kentlands Community Foundation mission, the core of our founding lies in the creation of the new urbanism community of Kentlands in 1988, followed by Lakelands in 1996. Our communities continue to serve as a model for development around the world, as evidenced by the United Nations award received in October, 2015 as part of the World Cities Day celebration. On a beautiful fall day this November, the Foundation hosted a delegation of 16 government municipal members from Okayama located in Western Japan, a translator and their local escort. Their goal was to learn about New Urbanism and view a model community for new development in Okayama with the potential to attract citizens and stimulate local business and job creation. The tour was led by Ruthzaly Weich, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. In addition to a walking tour, the group attended a presentation in the offices of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. DPZ partner, Marina Khoury, discussed the founding of the community, the original design objectives and process, and the concept of New Urbanism. Following our walk, the group was hosted for refreshments at the Kentlands Clubhouse and learned about the management of the Kentlands Citizens Assembly from Executive Director, Beth Brittingham.
Over the years, KCF has hosted groups from countries around the world and won numerous awards. So, what is New Urbanism and why all the fuss? New Urbanism is a planning and development approach based on the principles of how cities and towns had been built for the last several centuries: walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, and accessible public spaces. New Urbanists make place making and public space a high priority. Streets are designed for people – rather than just cars – and accommodate multimodal transportation including walking, bicycling, transit and driving. Plazas, squares, sidewalks, cafes and porches to host daily interaction and public life is key. When you feel a sense of contentment as you greet neighbors, walk the trail system with your dog, take your kids to the parks and schools, and stroll to shops and restaurants, it is not a happy coincidence. Our community was designed with your health and happiness in mind.
Our goal is to serve as an educational resource and preserve the essence of our community through support of arts and cultural programs and by providing opportunities for volunteerism and community outreach. We are also actively advocating with local stakeholders to ensure that we have a healthy and vibrant retail core, a key element of New Urbanism. Enjoy!