Placemaking: A Tool for Rural and Urban Communities

In late 2011, West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC) applied for and was awarded a Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This was one of only 10 grants awarded throughout the United States. The grant allowed WCWRPC to partner with the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) to conduct placemaking exercises in two local communities. This article provides an overview of placemaking and summarizes the results of a local placemaking exercise.

What is Placemaking?

Current Issues Related to the Sustainability of the Built Environment

There are many current issues that affect the long term sustainability of the built environment. From a land use standpoint, the way the U.S. has developed around sprawl and the automobile has become an issue with sustainability.  For example, the separation of uses as the predominate pattern of development after W.W. II  has increased the use of energy for transporation of people and goods in turn putting more strain on the environment. 

The built environment has a dramatic impact on …

How Close Must Food Be Grown to Be Considered “Local”?

Unlike organic food, there is no legal or universally accepted definition of local food. In part, it is a geographical concept related to the distance between food producers and consumers. In addition to geographic proximity of producer and consumer, however, local food can also be defined in terms of social and supply chain characteristics.

In terms of defining distance, opinions are quite varied. Distances that are perceived to constitute local may vary by region. Population density is important because what …

What are the Differences between Mobility, Accessibility, and Connectivity in Transportation Planning?


Mobility is the ability and level of ease of moving goods and services. Some examples of mobility include: Interstate highways providing designated truck lanes to increase the overall amount of goods transported; Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems with bus only lanes that increases the efficiency of moving people while removing automobiles from the roads.  Congestion Management Systems are the trend in mobility due to the lack of funds and the land constraints to keep expanding the transit system infinitely. These …

Sustainable Communities: A Local Systems Approach to Planning

Course Information

This course is intended for all Extension professionals and public officials interested in community development and sustainability topics. The course will provide you with a systems perspective of community sustainability looking through the lens of some of the common topics that communities are facing today– energy, local food, built environments, mobility, natural resources, community capacity, and economic development. 

This Sustainable Communities course was previously a training program created by a task force of the North Central Regional Center