Chapter 3, page 67 

Leadership and Communications

Leadership Talking Points for Sustainable Urbanism

Jim Hackler, former head of the USGBC's LEED for Homes and Atlanta's EarthCraft House program, and Irina Woelfle, IWPR Group

Complex ideas, such as sustainable urbanism, are particularly challenging to convey in this age of sound bites and short attention spans. However, insights from the communications industry can be used to get a clear message across. The challenges and the opportunities are many. Sustainable urbanism is relevant to many different trends and current events: climate change, quality of life, the environment, building community, lowering taxes, and the like.

Communications professionals have developed methods to address these challenges:

  • Define your mission. Decide who you are and what your goals are.
  • Define the audience. Influencers? Partners? Potential partners? Customers?
  • Lose the jargon. The phrase "sustainable urbanism" is suited only to a technical audience. For the general public, consider a layman's definition: neighborhoods where you prefer to walk to everything-to see people, to enjoy the parks, tree-lined streets, and environmentally friendly buildings.
  • Collect statistics in your support. This book is a good resource; just don't overwhelm your audience with too many facts and figures.
  • Define your message for each audience. For example:
    • Planning board members need to know that high-performance infrastructure' means lower taxes.
    • Potential residents need to know your buildings use a small amount energy and help slow global warming.
    • NIMBY groups need to know that a mix of uses reduces traffic.
  • Use a positive message. Have fun! Emphasizing the positive may attract more people than gloom and doom.
  • Use synonyms. To connect with your audience, you may want to use related terms that may be more familiar than Sustainable Urbanism: "smart growth," "green urbanism," "eco-cities," "LEED-ND," "healthy neighborhoods," "walkable communities."

The Five W's
The Write Stuff
On the Air
MODAvational Exhibit
In the Works
Environmental Education
The Green Machine
Talk the Walk
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