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Strategy will ensure families, small businesses and communities are stronger, more economically competitive and better able to withstand future storms, and serve as a model for communities across the country

President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, chaired by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, today released a rebuilding strategy to serve as a model for communities across the nation facing greater risks from extreme weather and to continue helping the Sandy-affected region rebuild.  The Rebuilding Strategy contains 69 policy recommendations, many of which have already been adopted, that will help homeowners stay in and repair their homes, strengthen small businesses and revitalize local economies and ensure entire communities are better able to withstand and recover from future storms. Read more.

Residents of NE Portland are taking an "eco-district" approach to community rebuilding that centers on creating environmental wealth through social enterprise, outreach and advocacy. The most recent project is Let Us Build Cully Park! Working with 15 community based organizations, Verde, a Surdna grantee supported by all three program areas, established the Let Us Build Cully Park! Coalition. This compelling video shows how this low-income community is building assets of all kinds through a model that we hope can be replicated in communities throughout the country.

from PrettyGoodProductions on Vimeo.

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This video featuring Surdna staff member Helen Chin was recently produced to mark the Environmental Grantmaking Association's 25th anniversary. EGA works to promote effective environmental philanthropy by sharing knowledge, fostering debate, cultivating leadership, facilitating collaboration, and catalyzing action, and staff have been involved with the work since 1987.

from Trey Kirchoff on Vimeo.

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Allison Brooks, Chief of Staff for Reconnecting America, was interviewed by Haya El-Nasser of USA Today regarding their recent report: Are We There Yet? Creating Complete Communities for 21st Century America. Here is her section of the story and the entire story link is at the bottom:

Grocery stores, child care and other services near transit.

The young have been flocking to cities partly because they can walk to work or take mass transit. They still want that, but it can be daunting when they have kids in tow and need to take a bus to the grocery store and a subway to the day care center.

"The first thing to know is where the gaps are," says Allison Brooks, chief of staff for Reconnecting America, a national organization that works to link transportation and community development. She's co-author of the group's recent report, Are We There Yet? Creating Complete Communities for 21st Century America.

Brooks has worked with the city of Denver to map where day care centers, preschools, grocery stores and jobs are in relation to public transit stops. She has found more willingness among local leaders to cooperate in the face of this demographic transformation.

The availability of city data that are easily accessible to citizens has given residents everywhere more input in governing.

"There is more accountability and expectation of immediacy and responsiveness," says Ben Hecht is CEO of Living Cities, a philanthropic collaborative of 22 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions that invests in cities.

"We have to help people live easier lifestyles, healthier lifestyles and more affordable lifestyles," Brooks says. "There is real interest in creating these environments. Cities want to keep these people. They spend money."

The Fruitvale Transit Village in Oakland opened in 2004 with a library, a charter school, a senior center and housing near the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station and has become a national model for integrating transit and services.

Brooks, who lives in Oakland and has a 3-year-old, has no intention of leaving the city where 20% of schools are charter, she says. "I can walk to a BART station. I can ride my bike to downtown Oakland," she says. "Even if we decide to send her to private school, we're not going to move out."

You can read the entire story at this link:

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Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.