Next week, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and the Friends of White Flint are hosting a happy hour on how to “make the suburbs hip.” While that might conjure images of trying to jury-rig H Street on Rockville Pike, the transformation of White Flint goes much further than that. The redevelopment of strip malls and parking lots into real urban places has real social, economic and environmental benefits.
In a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine, Patrick Doherty argues that the United States must reorient itself and its built environment to meet the challenges of the 21st century and remain prosperous. This starts in places like White Flint.
Today’s White Flint was built around the social, economic and environmental conditions of the 20th century, among them a homogeneous society, cheap land and cheap energy. Tomorrow’s White Flint will need to accommodate very different circumstances: an increasingly diverse population, land constraints, climate change, and an eventual shift away from fossil fuels.
If done well, the future White Flint will encourage a greater sense of community through a strong public realm where people can gather, hang out and even protest. It will help meet the demand for housing, particularly the desire for smaller living spaces and urban amenities, while providing a base of customers and employees for local businesses. And it will allow us to accommodate a growing population while using less energy, fewer materials, and conserving precious agricultural and undisturbed land.
The challenges are great, but the potential is enormous. I look forward to seeing White Flint become not only a “hip” place to live, but an example for how the rest of the nation can improve their communities and prepare for the future.
I hope you’ll come out to our happy hour next Tuesday, January 29 at 5:30pm at Seasons 52, located at 11414 Rockville Pike, a short walk from the White Flint Metro station. Montgomery County Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner will be on hand to talk about the transformation of White Flint and it means for our community. You can click here to RSVP.