Three-part series on ‘civic ecology’ explores thoughtful planning


Dr. Ken Yocom

How do we thoughtfully plan and implement civic design so that cities are more equitable, just, sustainable, and ultimately, good places to call home? A new series presented by the Council and Kent District Library examines the question of civic design, looking at global models to challenge our ideas of what works locally.


“Communities by Design” will feature presenters on three consecutive Thursday nights this fall—September 29, October 6, and October 13 at the Amy Van Andel Library in Ada at 6:30 p.m.


“Well-designed metros and public spaces enhance the community, creating opportunities for connection, economic prosperity, and environmental justice,” said the Council’s director of programming Erica Kubik. “Yet, designing a community is often fraught, as competing interests intersect in ways that can’t always be planned.”


The series begins on September 29 with Dr. Erik Nordman of Grand Valley State University, a professor of natural resource management, on “Commons, Collaboration, and Civic Design.” Nordman, who wrote a book on the Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom, will share Ostrom’s design principles and describe how communities all over the world are building vibrant urban communities.


On October 6, Sister Damien Marie Savino, Ph.D. and dean of science and sustainability at Aquinas College, will lead a program on “Civic Ecology and the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.” The Laudato Si’ is the second encyclical from Pope Francis and it discusses the notion of “integral ecology,”

the mutual relationship between natural and human ecology. The “action platform’ lists seven goals for achieving this win-win process.


Finally, on October 13, Dr. Ken Yocom, associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington, will share “At the Water’s Edge: Reconnecting Cities to their Waterfronts.” He’ll give national and international examples of urban waterfront revitalization. How does one enhance waterfront conditions while prioritizing public access?


All three programs are free and open to the public. The Council is grateful to partner Kent District Library for this annual collaboration on global/local topics that can enrich and inspire our West Michigan community. For more information, see here.