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Friday, May 16, 2008

Kennecott and New Urbanism

The West Bench plan is an impressive road map to a sustainable future on the West side of the Salt Lake Valley . I like the plan along with many citizens and groups throughout the valley. This plan is especially interesting considering that a mining company is responsible for building these green new urban communities. However, the way Kennecott has chosen to communicate this plan intrigues me. I have found that many of my neighbors in Daybreak are puzzled when I mention that Daybreak is a New Urban community. They have never heard of the term. That is completely understandable since I have not seen Kennecott use the word in any of their advertisements or brochures.

They use the terms smart growth and sustainability all the time, but not “new urbanism.” Of course, I have not searched through every single piece of literature that Kennecott Land has ever produced. Is Kennecott shy about the fact that Daybreak follows new urban principles? More likely Kennecott decided that the public was not ready for an advertising campaign that proclaims the merits of new urbanism. This makes some sense considering that the Daybreak community was the first major new urban community in Utah . Introduce the concept slowly so people get used to the idea. So you see the advertising featuring the kids playing, the traditional architecture, community gatherings, and the silhouette of the tree on the yellow background with the tag line “this is getting good.” These advertisements appeal to our nostalgic side of how neighborhoods used to be. It also appeals to parents who feel that it takes a community to raise a child. Not that these advertisements are bad. They’re not. In fact the old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" applies here. But while they show the pictures of and people who live in a new urban community, they do not convey the philosophy behind the development.

Maybe that is why some people are surprised when the City of South Jordan distributed the flyer informing citizens about the future Daybreak apartments. Conflicts usually come about because people or groups have differing expectations. Kennecott Land should probably stick with their current campaign, but they need to inform the residents and prospective residents about the philosophy behind Daybreak. Maybe then people will know what to expect.

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