Brent Toderian- Downtown Cities

22 04 2013

Keynote speaker Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian), Consulting City Planner + Urbanist at TODERIAN UrbanWORKS discussing the concept of “density done well” at DSA’s 2013 State of Downtown Economic Forum on February 13, 2013 at the Seattle Westin.

Well worth 20 minutes of your time, and plenty to consider about how we create Winning Cities…


As ‘Green’ gets trendy, what can be said for the dirty word ‘Density’

7 03 2013


More people are choosing to live in Cities than ever before in human existence. Our new urban culture is driven by a transformation in the way we do business, the way we recreate, the way we connect with each other…. But are our Cities going to keep up?

For most people, when they think high population density, they think traffic congestion, increased pollution, antisocial behaviour… And of course, if manager poorly, they’d be right. But does it have to be that way?

Population density has been a key discussion topic at this years Greener Cities Conference. The experts are saying that high density cities are not only a desirable outcome for a sustainable future, but a reality that is coming to a City near you, whether you’re ready for it or not. It’s a global trend, and it’s happening, so we better start preparing for it.

The CEO of Green Cross, Mara Bun makes an interesting point, suggesting that as a result of this global shift towards Cities, our conversation needs to change around how our Cities are built. Instead of focusing on whether we want high growth or not, which is out of our control, we must shift to talking about what our Cities will look like in 30 years, and what decisions we need to make today to ensure that our Cities can maximise the opportunities created from growth, not just cope with it. This enables a more intelligent conversation, and one that will influence our decision makers to ensure a sustainable, thriving City for the future.

Mandurah’s population has been in rapid growth for some time, and while it has slowed recently as a result of the downturn in our economy, the reality is, our City will continue to grow.

This could mean a strengthened, vibrant economy, sustainable innovations, an intact and recognisable identity and culture, diversity in our people and a sophisticated and well planned City….. Or it could mean traffic congestion, urban sprawl and Mandurah simply becoming an outer metropolitan suburb of Perth.

But if all this talk of high density is still of concern, lets put our population into perspective. A quick bit of research on some dodgy Wikipedia figures (I can hear my university lecturer groaning from here!) demonstrates what Mandurah would look like, population wise, if we took the population density from a handful of Cities across the world:

If Mandurah had the same population density per square kilometre as the Cities below, here’s where our population figures would sit (population density per km2 of Cities mentioned below x City of Mandurah area):

Density of London: 903,241
Density of Sydney: 357,063
Density of San Francisco: 1.15m
Density of Gold Coast: 168,642

With a current population of 78,000 forecast to grow to 100,000 over the next decade… Let’s not panic just yet!

Let’s have the right conversation.

Feeling a little green…

6 03 2013

It’s with excitement that I’m blogging this week from the Greener Cities Challenge conference in Sydney, Australia’s premier ‘Green’ conference.

Considering the theme is ‘sustainability challenge’, The day started by getting into the spirit of things. The morning began with a session of yoga (kind of… I could see people doing yoga from the hotel window!), a quick hunt around the hotel room to turn all the lights and power switches off, and a sustaining breakfast, before navigating my way around Sydney’s public transport system to the Sydney Convention Centre for the conference… Sustainable morning? Tick!

The day begins with a key note speech from Gunter Pauli, an entrepreneur and activist from South Africa. We talk about human beings having great capacity… This man speaks seven languages fluently, and has become a world leading entrepreneur on the basis of transforming waste products into products of competitive, sustainable and social value. Simply inspiring!

Farming maggots on the waste products of abattoirs to cure diabetes and providing one of the worlds richest sources of protein (maggot saliva!), growing mushroom fields on unused waste from coffee plantations, turning coffee plants into clothing and carpet, making paper from rock… Gunter’s view is that we need to focus on doing more good, rather than less bad

The key message that stands out clearly so far is that a subtle change in the way we do business is not going to drive us along the path of a sustainable future. We need a rethink, of everything… from the way we structure our tax systems to the way we flush our toilets.

With over half the worlds population living in Cities for the first time in human history, and an overwhelming percentage of CO2 generated from our Cities, a cleaner city is a cleaner planet… So what an we do to rethink the way we do our business in our little City?

I’ll be blogging for the next couple of days on all of the interesting themes explored throughout the conference… Please follow along 🙂


Sort and Save: A Community Recycling Project

19 02 2013

In the City of Wodonga, Victoria, they are not only serious about recycling but also community engagement and partnerships. With this in mind they set up a new recycling imitative; Sort and Save.

The result was a community based recycling project that has changed the way Wodonga Council delivers its waste management service. Sort and Save is an example of how innovative management practices not only improve service delivery but also empower the whole community to adopt more efficient waste management habits.

Originally, the project was tabled as an answer to the city’s costly hard waste problems. However, through problem solving and community discussion, it was modified to offer creative, sustainable solutions to equally pressing social and economic issues within Wodonga. It is a project anchored in ongoing community partnerships, empowering those involved, particularly marginalised people, and is already showing many positive social, economic and environmental benefits. Sort and Save, while managed by Wodonga Council, involves partnerships with four local community organisations.

The strength of Sort and Save lies in the commitment of these partners to finding innovative ways of doing things better, smarter and more productively, while reducing everyday environmental impacts. Corrections Victoria, Recovery GAME ( ), Kalianna ( ) Enterprises and Beechworth Correctional Centre work alongside Wodonga Council to reduce, reuse and recycle goods received at the Wodonga Council Waste Transfer Station. The project provides a workplace for the long-term unemployed, skills development for marginalised members of the community, the reuse/resale of previously unwanted goods and a practical exercise in educating the general public in sustainable, environmentally sound waste management.

With its own share of marginalised peoples, high local unemployment as well as people wanting to do positive things for the environment, is the ‘Sort and Save’ type initiative something Mandurah could be looking at?

Cr Rhys Williams
Agree? Disagree? Make a comment?

The Digital Futures for Cities..

4 02 2013

Nestled between Geelong and Ballarat is the small rural municipality of Golden Plains. This small town is the link between three of the most popular tourism destinations in Victoria—Geelong, the Great Ocean Road and the Ballarat Goldfields.
The council wanted a way to make it easier for tourists to enjoy this region so they developed a Smartphone application.
The Smartphone application features an interactive map of Golden Plains, including helpful visitor information and landmark images designed to assist tourists in finding and enjoying the attractions. It also identifies important locations such as public toilets, food stops, petrol stations and eftpos facilities.
This technology enables people to access information about the Golden Plains anywhere, anytime from the convenience of a Smartphone, iPad or Android tablet. The initiative is a shining example of a progressive approach to economic development.
Historically, the Council has built and restored tourism infrastructure and co-located amenities, ranging from nature trails and parklands through to major tourist attractions such as the Golden Plains Farmers’ Market and Flagstaff Hill Lookout, in an effort to attract visitors to the region.
Council’s role is now to facilitate and collaborate with regional tourism bodies and neighbouring municipalities that have been integral to the successful market testing and deployment of the technology.
By having a sound project planning framework and involving the community at the earliest possible stages, the Golden Plains Smartphone application is a true reflection of the council’s innovative approach to infrastructure development. Importantly, the technology continues to create real value for local businesses and enhances the wider regional tourism industry.
Given the planned launch for free wifi in the central CBD, it begs the question; how difficult would it be to develop a similar application for the City of Mandurah? I think that question is worth exploring.
Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your views


‘For The Love Of Cities’ TEDx Talk by Peter Kageyama’

27 01 2013

Peter Kageyama is the author of For the Love of Cities, a book about the emotional connections we have with our places and the benefits to cities for becoming more lovable and engaging. He is the co-founder and producer of the Creative Cities Summit, an interdisciplinary event that brings together citizens and practitioners around the big idea of the city.

Peter’s talk showcased how people around the U.S. expressed love for their cities, and how the cities engaged and benefitted from the engagement.

The Tragedy of Suburbia

16 01 2013

‘The tragedy of suburbia’ TED talk by James Howard Kunstler

In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centres of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what currently exists in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.

In this humorous but very serious talk Kunstler suggests we take a hard look at what our cities have become. Although this critic is aimed at American cities there are some lessons worth noting for us here in Australia.