How Can I Find and Help Build
a Walkable Community?
This is one of the most important and necessary
questions anyone should ask before settling down in a permanent
location. Many corporate leaders looking to expand or move
locations are now looking for towns offering appropriate start
up breaks, but also where they and their middle managers want
to live many years, raise a family and retire. Our web site,
has a 12-step
program for defining and achieving or strengthening community
But finding a walkable town is a different
task. So, I have built a list of the 12 most important things
to rate when searching for a Walkable Community. Note that
there are many walkable communities in America that are declining,
due to poor politics, staffing or a lost vision. And there
are some communities on the cusp of becoming walkable that
have strong leadership and direction. Given a choice, I would
move to the community that is up and coming.
You can, of course, move into a new Walkable Community, such
as Seaside, Celebration, Abacoa, Florida; Kentlands, Maryland,
The Crossings, Mountain View, California; Fairview Village,
Orenco Station, Oregon; Northwest Landing, Washington; and
now hundreds of others. I know these places well. I return
to them often, photographing, walking and measuring their
essences. The paint, the grass, everything is fresh and new
there. Some of these new urban villages are rather complete,
and fit well into the fabric of the greater town or region
But if you don’t want to wait for these places
to become organic, go for the real towns of America
… they are abundant, old, tried and proven, and
they need many defenders of their greatness. This article
is mostly on how to find existing Walkable Communities.
They are way too numerous to list more than a fraction.
This article is also a little bit on how to protect
these delicate real places of the heart. As I write
this, I am sitting in East Lansing, one of my favorite
Walkable Communities. I am eager to go out for a walk.
But I am also 100 miles from Holland, Michigan. I am
torn - I'd like to go there, right now, take in the
color of the tulips, walk its streets and listen to
the outward pride and laughter of its people.
You can either be a passenger on the train to change,
or get up in the engine helping stoke the fire, taking
in the gusty winds of change feeling the sting and smell
of hot cinders burning the hair off the nape of your
neck. These up and coming communities may be more affordable,
and are likely to be fun places to place your energies.
But before you move, truly check out the politics of
Good towns come in all regions of the country.
The best are often small places like Keene, New Hampshire;
Winter Park, Florida; Flagstaff, Arizona; Crested Butte, Colorado
or Los Gatos, California … or they include big cities
like Seattle, Washington; Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; or San
Diego, California that have many small, well designed compact,
intact neighborhoods, each with a village center and a character
and personality of its own.
In some of these villages, strong enclaves of Hispanic,
Jewish, Polish, German, Asian, Afro-American or gay
cultures are found, taking pride building or maintaining
their communities. Other villages are fully mixed, rich
in diversity of people, age, abilities and wealth. You
can live in a town that is sprawling itself to death,
and still lead a healthy life in several great neighborhoods.
Note that top rated towns in this listing either already
have or are now developing many villages in their city.
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33 E. Pine Street, Orlando, FL 32801 (866) 347-2734
For any comments, questions or suggestions about the content of
this web site please email: Ken Owens
April 22, 2005