Aug 082011
 
Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois

Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois -- northwest of Chicago -- is a transit-oriented, mixed-use community that was developed in concert with an organic farm, learning farm, stables, and more. It is one of 12 projects of the UnSprawl case study book.

Over on my One-Car Town blog, a reader noted that while I asked what “UnSprawl” means, I never actually defined it. Fortunately, defining the term — which I coined when founding Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments nearly 15 years ago — isn’t too tricky. And yet “UnSprawl” can mean many different things to many different people, for what is one person’s sprawl might be another person’s utopia.

As a category, however, UnSprawl is the section of Terrain.org that, in each issue, contains an in-depth narrative and design-oriented review of a development that is environmentally, economically, and culturally more viable than conventional suburban (which is to say, car-oriented) development. So it really means communities (usually fairly new projects, but not always) that are un-sprawled in their design and implementation. With 27 issues published so far, we’ve explored more than two dozen innovative developments across North America.

Earlier this year I was approached by the folks at Planetizen Press to assemble a new book of 12 of these updated case studies — actually, 11 current and one new study. It’s a wonderful opportunity to continue to highlight these good projects, as well as to promote Terrain.org.

So even though the contract doesn’t cover the expenses necessary to visit and rephotograph all of the projects, as well as interview some of the bright minds behind them, I jumped at it. And in researching opportunities for reimbursing my travel expenses, I realized that using a fundraising site like Kickstarter.com might just do the trick. Why? First, it brings together a wealth of creative projects, including journalism projects such as the UnSprawl case study book, so that people who might not otherwise learn of a project now can find out more, and support it, on a secure platform that they know and trust. Second, it ensures that those who pledge to the project receive something in return, in our case ranging from a Terrain.org sticker to a copy of the book once published to a personal onsite tour of one of the developments. Third, it ensures that only those projects that meet their funding goals move forward — so there’s no risk that the project won’t be completed if not fully funded.

The UnSprawl case study book funding goal is $2,500, and it must be met by September 5th for the funding to be released. The book itself is due November 1st, and I’ve already been traveling a lot this summer — to Oregon, California, and Illinois. Trips to Tennessee, Georgia, Colorado, and Texas are on the horizon.

With ten case studies written by me and two by Ken Pirie, the UnSprawl case study book will be unique in its full-color project overviews, interviews, informative sidebars, resources, and exclusive online content. You can help support this important book — and learn about on-the-ground efforts to build community while counteracting global warming and other threats to our built and natural environments — by contributing to the project.

If building resource-efficient, pedestrian-oriented communities that create authentic sense of place is important to you, please consider helping us out.

Learn more and pledge online before September 5th at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/635178095/unsprawl-case-study-book.

Thanks very much for your consideration.

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