Blog: Heather Carmona

Heather Carmona is Executive Director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association and a life-long Detroiter. She is also founder of Pure, an organic product consulting and consumer advocacy company. Heather will be writing about the interdependence and relationship between quality of life, sustainability and community.

Post No 2: Reinventing Quality of Life

magazine recently cited Woodward Avenue as one America’s "most fuel efficient neighborhoods". If I could rewrite the headline I’d call it "Woodward Avenue communities enhance quality of life".  

Five years ago many Woodward communities wouldn’t dare mention the word ‘transit’. Now it’s part of regular dialogues. 

Three years ago, communities didn’t know what the acronym TOD meant. Now, three Woodward communities – Huntington Woods, Pontiac and Ferndale – have included specific language in their master plans encouraging Transit Oriented Development and State Rep. Marie Donigan is proposing legislation to offer incentives to developers and communities as a tool for economic development.  

Two years ago, a community garden was considered an interim use for an underutilized parcel of land. Now communities are putting urban gardens into land use plans as viable, livable, desirable and profitable community development options.   

Two years ago, crosswalks were an afterthought in many planning and physical improvements. Now communities are realizing and residents are demanding crosswalks in areas once void of pedestrian activity. 

Dan Barden, a well-known community planner and founder of Walkable Communities Inc. in his 12 years of work advocating for walkable communities, Silicon Valley as an example, that most people don’t live near their work. They have high levels of income, education and you would think high standard of living, but many Silicon Valley employees have horrendous commutes and work in tech parks and ultimately studies have shown they’re less happy. Not something the business attractions folks are promoting I’m sure. 

Generally, quality of life is measured in terms of access to the things we value most - jobs, safe streets, affordable transportation and housing, and quality health care, schools, parks, etc. All of these things are challenging us to assess and helping shape different attitudes about what community and quality of life means.

I hope we can all keep and pick up pace.