Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Making Better Places: A Research Project

This post is published on behalf of Tashia Dixon:
Connection is at our core, the first thing that strikes us when we consider anything.   To really know anything one must study all of its immediate and mediate connections.  For example, cutting down trees will reduce the bird population, a natural predator for many pests, leading to an increase in the number of pests that destroy agricultural crops.   Cutting down trees will also contribute to soil erosion which can lead to increased pollution of our water ways that our food crops rely upon.  Everything is connected.   
I am an urban designer who is researching how human settlements and communities can benefit from replicating the patterns of connectivity found in natural ecology.  The goal of my work is to design/ create better places for people to live, work and play in by drawing lessons from the complex interdependencies found in natural networks and systems.
My study is focused in the City of Moreland, specifically on the existing community and business networks that have formed around sectors such as food, energy, community, environment etc.  
What I Hope to Achieve?
Through my research I will critically analyse the current model for urban development which often starts with a design and layout for a community of people who don’t yet exist as a collective.   It is my contention that in order to build strong and robust frameworks for sustainable development we should engage with community and business networks before we put pen to paper.  
What if the process for development changed to prioritize the importance of community/ business networks, placing them ahead of the design process and the bricks and mortar?   Instead of Council assessing open space contributions, road networks and layouts, building heights, densities and setbacks for a new project, they would first assess plans for building connections and networks for community health and wellbeing, economic productivity, social vitality and environmental protection.  
How Can You Get Involved?
I am seeking people who are involved in community/ business networks (as organizers, members or owners) to fill out a brief questionnaire to gain insight into how their activities and connections contribute to building sustainable urban environments. 
The questionnaires have been designed for each specific group and can be filled out in a few minutes.
My research requires the engagement of three groups:
1. Organisers of community/ business networks
2. Members of community/ business networks
3. * Small – medium business owners/ operators
*I would also like to hear from small/ medium businesses who are not involved in local networks. 
Please email me at tashia.dixon[at]gmail.com  for a questionnaire.   
Many thanks for your time.

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