There is an old saying about the best-laid plans, but Jennifer Howland will gladly tell you that no blueprint is one-size-fits-all.
"What we envision is not a plan where everything would be the same no matter which community you are in," she said. "It's more about giving local communities options that they can select from and take steps based on their own sets of priorities to achieve a more sustainable future for their citizens."
As sustainability planning manager with the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Howland has had a lot of time to think about those priorities of late and she's very much hoping the community will join her in that process. Since late 2010, Howland's agency has been working on a regional plan for sustainable development. Bankrolled by a $4.7 million federal grant, the effort is designed to create templates to guide communities as they hammer out integrated, sustainable solutions to complex challenges from housing to water quality to public transportation. The resulting ideas can then be used by city planners in formulating policy.