ISC

Sustainable Communities Boot Camp

Xavier de Souza Briggs, Associate Director for General Government Programs at the White House Office of Management and Budget, speaks at the Sustainable Communities Boot Camp in January.

Prosperity, Equity and Sustainability: Transforming Regional Development


The Sustainable Communities Boot Camp helped 13 regions in the U.S. develop new approaches to development that integrate social, economic, and environmental priorities.


Increasingly, metropolitan regions throughout America are recognizing that economic, environmental and social goals must be advanced simultaneously. Metro-regions across the country are working to create more integrated strategies for prosperity—from comprehensive approaches to growth that better integrate economic development, land use, housing, and transportation planning to efforts that increase access to affordable housing and economic opportunity.

But fragmentation of planning and economic development programs is standing in the way of achieving truly coordinated regional systems that connect to—and benefit from—resilient regional economies, that create opportunities for all, and that improve environmental quality and public health.

To help practitioners address these challenges, ISC partnered with Living Cities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Harvard Kennedy School to design and deliver the Sustainable Communities Boot Camp: Transaction to Transformation in January 2011.

The event served cross-sector, inter-jurisdictional teams of practitioners from 13 regions that won grants under HUD’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. Teams included those with senior responsibility in planning, transportation and economic development as well as real estate developers and social equity partners.  More than a dozen senior officials from HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities worked alongside participants on the challenges of transforming regional development.

“Like any boot camp, it’s critical we get in shape if we’re to tackle the challenges facing our communities,” said Shelley Poticha, Director of HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. “We’re all called to think in new, more sustainable ways about the places where we live and work and I can’t think of a better way than to gather in this setting, roll up our sleeves and get down to the real work of transforming our communities to meet tomorrow’s demands.”

The Boot Camp gave participants a conceptual framework for basing land-use, transportation, and housing planning in an overarching, regional economic strategy that provides economic opportunity for all. Over three days, participants also learned about practical strategies and tools for using the framework to transform their regions. National experts worked with practitioners on practical issues such as  regional collaboration and financing transit-oriented development.

“I often say that if I return from a conference with one thing I can take home as useful, it was worth it. I'll go home with dozens of useful things from this Boot Camp,” said one participant.

This the fifth intensive peer-learning workshop put on by ISC’s Climate Leadership Academy. It was the second time ISC partnered on a Boot Camp with Living Cities, an organization comprising 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions.

Boot Camp Presentations

Participating Regions

  • Houston-Galveston Region, TX
  • Metro Boston, MA
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Region
  • New York-Connecticut
  • Northeast Arizona
  • Northeast Ohio
  • Puget Sound, WA
  • San Joaquin Valley, CA
  • Southeast Florida
  • Southeast Michigan
  • Twin Cities Region, MN
  • Western North Carolina
  • Wisconsin Capital Area