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No Really, Californians Might Not Have All The Answers

Jul 9, 2009
Many times I have attended a conference or workshop on land use and public policy that included an expert the organizers brought in from another country. While the expert could be from London, The Netherlands, China, Buenos Aires or Capetown, my private reaction was always the same: What could this "outsider" possibly tell me that's relative to California?

I suppose that attitude makes me sound like your typical arrogant American. "Hey, Mr. International Expert, we've got this thing wired. You should be learning from us not vise-versa."

But inevitably, and usually within the first few minutes of the foreign guest's presentation, I was furiously scribbling notes and asking where I could get the PowerPoint slides.

Turns out that we Californians and we Americans don't have all the answers. It's always good to be reminded of this.

That brings me to a new blog by Jeff Loux, who heads the Land Use and Natural Resources program at UC Davis Extension. Jeff and a group of students are spending a month in Europe "exploring how cities, neighborhoods and projects can be planned, designed, built and experienced in a more sustainable manner." (Sounds like tough duty, doesn't it?)

Jeff promised to post regular blog entries during the trip, and his first two entries, from Stockholm, went up this week. Stockholm's planning strategy, we learn, is to build the city inward by focusing compact development on large infill and brownfield sites.

In other words, Jeff and his students are not in the Sacramento Valley anymore. And I'll bet they are learning a whole bunch of valuable lessons because of it.

Paul Shigley
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