Reconnecting America has released an impressively comprehensive survey of every metropolitan region in the US measuring a wide range of characteristics related to livability and smart growth. The survey gives grades from A to D in four areas: Living (housing and neighborhoods), working (proximity and access to jobs), moving (walkability and transit), and thriving (health and culture). ... The real value of this report, called Are We There Yet?, is in drilling down to data from individual metro areas, where there are many surprises.
Better! Cities & Towns
Our experience working with Reconnecting America was excellent. Chris Yake and Bill Sadler brought us some great ideas that are being directly applied in our sustainability planning. The data driven methods that they exposed us to are exactly what we needed to assess our region and make recommendations for improved transportation options.
Gulf Regional Planning Commission
Transit analysts Reconnecting America and the Denver equity coalition Mile High Connects have released an impressive compendium of maps and research showing how expansion of that city’s transit system could bring major opportunity to traditionally underserved populations – if local agencies take the necessary steps to prepare and coordinate. Called the Denver Regional Equity Atlas, the data-rich report is among the more sophisticated uses of GIS mapping that I have seen. (Read more)
Natural Resources Defense Council
"Where we live matters." [Reconnecting America] A Washington, D.C. based non-profit that advises civic leaders on how to create better communities for all. Particularly strong on transit-oriented development. Jeff Wood's daily email and web newsletter, The Other Side of the Tracks, is an invaluable round-up of transit, rail, and urbanism related news stories.
This morning John Robert was the keynote speaker at a regional civic breakfast here in Atlanta. The backdrop was our July transportation referendum. His presentation was absolutely "spot on" -- A very inspirational "can do" message, great examples, visuals and facts -- exceptional delivery.
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
John Robert Smith was excellent this evening! I have listened to many politicians from both sides of the political aisle and at all levels of government and have yet to hear someone speak so sincerely, and eloquently about transportation investments.
Masters in Community and Regional Planning Candidate 2013
University of Oregon
[John Robert Smith] Thank you so much for joining us in Philadelphia for our "Reinventing Older Communities: Building Resilient Cities" conference. We have received rave reviews of the transportation session and we know you were instrumental in making it such a success.
Manager, Administration and Research
Community Development Studies & Education
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
"[John Robert Smith] promoted passenger rail as economic development tool and highlighted the growth Meridian experienced. This was the perfect message for our state and received excellent coverage in our media."
Vice President of Public Policy
Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce
"The session in which [John Robert Smith] participated: Making Great Places, was a roaring success. We heard from many workshop attendants that it was one of the best workshops they have attended in all of the NLC conferences they have attended."
Donald J. Borut
National League of Cities
"[John Robert Smith's] keynote address was the perfect way to end the conference — very inspiring and entertaining. According to the attendee evaluations, you were a big hit!"
Community Resource Associate Specialist
Local Government Center
Montana State University
"[John Robert Smith's] presentation and messages were so well received by the attendees and were responsible for much of the "buzz" throughout the day. ... The communities emerged from the Summit energized and committed, in large part because of your words and the experiences you shared."
Gordon M. Carr
I have heard many people talk about [John Robert Smith's] story of Meridian and now understand why it is so compelling. You make a strong argument that combines economics and community that is both short and inspiring. It is stories like that of Meridian’s Union Station that could potential reignite the messaging for Sustainable Communities funding. Moreover, it is these types of narratives that need to be developed across the nation in order for the TOD case to be made!
On behalf of the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce, Joan and I would like to thank you for your tremendous participation. Mayor Smith, we have heard nothing but rave reviews about your keynote talk. Your story is so incredible – your personal story as a child, your amazing accomplishments as mayor, and now your national leadership with Reconnecting America. You did an excellent job of talking about obesity in general, and weaving in the transportation aspect.
Leslie A. Meehan
Director of Healthy Communities
Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
[Addressed to John Robert Smith] Thank you so much for joining us for our board meeting in Washington, D.C. and for sharing your perspectives on the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The board very much enjoyed hearing your personal story about serving as mayor of Meridian, and your words about leaders emerging because they discover a "reason to care" resonated with many of them.
Policy Consensus Initiative
"I have listened to many politicians from both sides of the political aisle and at all levels of government and have yet to hear someone speak so sincerely, and eloquently about transportation investments."
University of Oregon
What a tremendous story, beautifully framed, and policy and practice relevant! Meridian, Mississippi, and rural America has benefitted, and will continue to do so, from your leadership, intellect, passion, and vision!
Charles W. Fluharty
President and CEO
Rural Policy Research Institute