Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Community Resiliency and the Built Environment: Innovations and Policy Issues in Montana

From the Editor: I am posting this blog below for my colleague, Paul Lachapelle. --Dave Parker

As an MSU Extension Faculty member in the Department of Political Science and housed in the MSU Local Government Center, my responsibility is to provide Montana citizens with unbiased, research-based university information and resources on a host of community development issues. An issue facing many communities is how to address their built environment needs and demands. The built environment refers to the human-made physical structures and supporting infrastructure that provide the setting for human activity. In Montana, these surroundings shape our economic, social, environmental, and public health outcomes.

As Editor of the Montana Policy Review, we have devoted our latest issue, Vol. 15, No. 2, titled, Community Resiliency and the Built Environment: Innovations and Policy Issues in Montana to this important issue. With so many community resiliency and built environment policies, programs and projects, we felt it important to highlight the many innovative initiatives currently being designed and implemented across Montana. Citizens and local government leaders from all types of communities—from urban to rural to tribal—want to achieve the best possible outcomes while making the most effective use of limited resources. Policy decisions regarding transportation, land use, and community design influence many aspects of daily living: the distances people travel to work, school, parks, shops, and other destinations; the choice of transportation and housing options; the convenience of purchasing (or growing) healthy foods; the safety and attractiveness of neighborhoods for active living; and the economic and environmental resiliency of the local economy and place.

In Montana, there are many unique case studies that showcase how the built environment influences quality of life and economic prosperity. This issue of the Montana Policy Review presents a series of articles on this topic and identifies best practices, policies and strategies to help communities build safe, healthy and resilient places. In the 13 articles, you will read about community resiliency and the built environment from the people who coordinated or actively participated in all or many facets of the community programs and initiatives. With personal insights and professional learning and wisdom, the stories, narratives, and academic pieces provide the most complete analysis to date of built environment initiatives in Montana from the people who have designed, developed, and delivered the programs and plans. The first few articles present an overview of specific programs related to mapping, master plans, and related land use planning that provides a vision and framework for healthy active communities; these are followed by a set of articles examining issues associated with building and maintaining parks and trails in, near or connecting communities as an economic development and public health strategy; next are a set of articles on the role of transportation in building safe, healthy, and resilient communities with specific case examples of the processes and policy outcomes affecting people and places in the state; the last two articles provide insight on the economics of the built environment with tools and techniques for planning for and funding community initiatives.

In addition to printed to copies, we offer this issue on-line so that readers can click web links, view and download maps and pictures, and disseminate the publication to a far-wider audience than possible in the past. Go to: to download this current issue. For more information about the Local Government Center or the MSU Extension Community Development Program, please contact me at

Paul Lachapelle, Assistant Professor

Department of Political Science

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