Featured Presenter: Debra Efroymson

March 20, 2008

Today’s featured speaker is coming all the way from Bangladesh. Debra Efroymson, Regional Director for HealthBridge will be speaking at the Summit late morning April 26th. Keep reading to learn more about the fantastic project she’s involved with: WBB Trust – Work for a Better Bangladesh.WBB Trust (Work for a Better Bangladesh), with guidance from HealthBridge, is challenging accepted ideas about urban planning and transport. By introducing new information, working workshops, as well as by co-organizing a closely with electronic and print journalists to gain attention to the issues, and regularly organizing seminars and design contest at the leading technical university, WBB has succeeded in showing that there are more than one way to view the urban planning/transport paradigm.


While for years the emphasis in media and planning has been on the perceived negative role of cycle rickshaws and how to ban them gradually from the city streets, there is now much discussion of the benefits of rickshaws and the problems caused by cars.

Ecocity designs made by urban and regional planning students introduced the possibility of urban neighborhoods of 25,000 people without cars or other motorized transport, and the designs were very well-received. Challenges to traditional transport planning, organized by WBB and partner environmental and other organizations, have succeeded in greatly slowing rickshaw bans, possibly blocking a planned elevated expressway, and in bringing attention to the need for car controls, better situation for pedestrians, and the possibility of including bicycles into urban plans.

Further, WBB has worked with renowned experts such as Jan Gehl and Richard Register–both of whom have visited Dhaka–to emphasize planning focused on people, and with inclusion of nature.

While there is much more to do to arrive at genuinely people-focused urban planning that will reflect the ecocity philosophy, WBB has shown that much can be done, even in a city of over 12 million people.

Featured Presenter: Whitney Dotson

January 29, 2008

Rick Bacigalupi (huge thanks) went for a walk with Whitney Dotson to discuss his work and the upcoming Summit.

Whitney Dotson is an environmentalist and activist. He lives in Richmond, California and is a member of the Board of Directors of Citizens for East Shore Parks. Dotson has worked to restore Breuner Marsh and to protect Parchester Village in Richmond.

Parchester Village was developed after World War II for African Americans who moved to Richmond to work in the shipyards and could not buy houses elsewhere. It was built on the donated land of founder Fred Parr, a white developer. Local residents say that it is the first African American homeowners’ community in the Bay Area. About 1,000 people live in 400 single-family, one-story homes on this small tract sandwiched between two railroad tracks. It has remained mostly black since it was built, though some Latino families have moved in recently.

Whitney Dotson’s father, the late Reverend Richard Daniel Dotson, was one of the early settlers in Parchester in 1950 and became a community leader, organizing to preserve Breuner Marsh and helping to get adjacent Point Pinole turned over to the East Bay Regional Park District. Mr. Dotson will present on Day 2 (http://www.ecocityworldsummit.org/program.htm) of Ecocity’s main conference sessions.


Whitney Dotson was 5 years old when he moved into the brand-new house his father bought on Jenkins Way in Parchester Village. It was the early 1950s, and the planned 420-house development was Richmond’s first subdivision in which an African American… (read article at latimes.com

January 22, 2008


World’s Best and Brightest Will Gather to Design the City in Balance with Nature

San Francisco will host the 7th International Ecocity Conference (Ecocity World Summit), next April 22-26 2008. The event will be convened by nonprofit Ecocity Builders and held at UC Berkeley Extension and Nob Hill Masonic Center/Grace Cathedral.

“Times are crying out for a much larger effort in the direction of the city that restores, not destroys, the biosphere,” says Richard Register, President of Ecocity Builders and author of (New Society Publishers, 2006). The answer to many of our pressing social and environmental problems, he believes, is to redesign and rebuild cities for people and revitalization of nature instead of for cars and sprawl.

The world-renowned series follows the first, held in Berkeley in 1990, and five subsequent conferences in Australia, Senegal, Brazil, China and India. Ecocity World Summit 2008 will take center stage before the highly influential Bay Area community of architects, planners, designers, policy makers, green businesses, political and nonprofit leaders, with the added participation of international experts and delegates.

Speakers include architect and master planner Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba Brazil; former Governor of Maryland Parris Glendening, President of Smart Growth America Leadership Institute; Wang Rusong, President of the Ecological Society of China; Fiona Ma, CA State Assemblywoman and Chair of the Congressional High Speed Rail Caucus, Stephen Schneider, Stanford University Climatologist; plus architect and design visionaries like Paolo Soleri and Richard Register, and directors from nonprofits such as Global Footprint Network, who have important sustainability accounts for entire countries.

The conference will also draw high profile journalists and media attention; conference organizers are already signing on media partners and are receiving requests for interviews and articles.  According to proponents of the ecocity approach, the healthy built human habitat is the “walking city,” of which some parts of existing cities are already good examples. Whether small scale or large, it would cover a small fraction of the land consumed by today.s sprawling cities and towns. The guiding principle is “access by proximity.”

“The idea is to design communities so that instead of having to drive “over there,” what you need or want is “just around the corner,” says Register.

Current conference sponsors include SF Environment, UC Berkeley Extension, SF AIA, EDAW, BART, SF Neighborhood Parks Council, SPUR, Ecological Society of China, SF Bicycle Coalition, Ecocity Builders, Green Century Institute and organicARCHITECT.

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For more information or to schedule an interview with Richard Register or other Ecocity World Summit speakers, please call Amy Senn at 312.528.9111 x102 or e-mail Amy at AmySenn@sensiblecity.com.