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DUSP hosts sustainable development forum

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On Monday, Sept. 25, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) will host the "Regional Sustainable Development Forum," a day-long session of workshops and exercises focusing on several of the Boston area's most promising and innovative projects in sustainable development.

The forum will open with comments by Bill Shutkin, lecturer in DUSP and president of New Ecology, Inc; Professor Bish Sanyal, head of DUSP; and Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow. The keynote speaker on Monday morning is Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). The afternoon keynote speaker is Alan AtKisson, cofounder of Sustainable Seattle and author of Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks at a Pessimists' World.

The mission of the development forum is to "highlight development that promotes economically vital, ecologically healthy and socially just communities through projects such as affordable housing and eco-industrial parks, green space preservation and public transit -- and to link practitioners and policymakers who might not yet be talking to each other, let alone working together. The time is ripe for collaboration and experimentation in new and better ways of developing our communities and regions. This forum, we hope, will be a catalyst in accelerating the pace at which these projects are developed and building awareness of and support for them," said Mr. Shutkin, an organizer of the forum.

Commenting on his own vision for the forum, Mr. Shutkin said, "Sustainable development, in its fullest sense, is the most important concept and set of practices we bring into the 21st century. The real test before us, as practitioners, policymakers and citizens, is whether and to what extent we can create vital economies, healthy ecosystems and equitable, engaged communities."

MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning "has always been a pioneer in the fields of community development, urban planning and environmental policy, which are at the heart of sustainable development policy and practice, and while the focus of the forum is the metro-Boston area and place-based strategies, the ideas and lessons that will be discussed apply across geographies and communities," Mr. Shutkin said.

The Sustainable Development Forum will feature a Virginia Wheel of concurrent workshops and panel discussions. Morning session workshops will focus on topics such as planning and zoning for sustainable development and transportation and alternative fuels. Moderators for the morning sessions include David Queeley, sanctuary director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Boston Nature Center and Claire Barrett, board president of Move Massachusetts. Case studies and projects to be highlighted before lunch include "Clean Energy Initiatives" and "Encouraging Alternative Commuting in Massachusetts."

A panel of lunchtime speakers will address the state of regionalism and sustainable development in Massachusetts. Panelists will include Professor Shutkin; Caesar McDowell, director for the Center of Reflective Community Practice at MIT; and Beth Tener, founding board member, Sustainable Step New England.

Afternoon workshops will focus on topics including recycling and reuse-based economic development and housing. Moderators will include Jane Holtz Kay, author of Asphalt Nation and Lost Boston, and Felice Mendell, executive director of the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development.

Sponsors of the forum include New Ecology, Inc., EPA Region 1/New England; MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Chelsea Center for Recycling and Economic Development; NSTAR; Fleet Boston Community Banking Group and Sustainable Measures.

For more information or to register, call Kit Perkins at (617) 354-4099 or go to the New Ecology web site.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 2000.

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