Monday, May 23, 2011

A Diverse Week of Planning Activities

Last week was a great week to work for the Planning Department. We tend to have our fingers in more than a few activities going on in the community, whether we are overt or covert about it is another thing.

Last week was one of those weeks, when I'd say to my sweet wife, I'm doing this today, or today I met with X and she'd say really how is that Planning? I get that a lot. People don't always see the connections, which I think is cool, because when you point them out they tend to make a lot of things clearer.

The diversity of my position and department is one of the strong appeals to me. It keeps things light and keeps the stress level constant (high, but constant). I've got a great group of people working for me and one reason they are great is that they are always looking for things to do, and projects to benefit the residents.

Last week those projects included a permaculture class, green commute week, with free breakfast on Friday and the Cochecho River Field Day/Clean up Day. Also we participated in Commute Green Week with a local project. These are atop regular meet with residents/property owners etc that we do daily, and atop zoning administration and enforcement.

The Permaculture class was interesting, informative and out of a comfort zone that I think many of us appreciate. The idea behind permaculture is that we should think about development (whether your backyard, your neighborhood, or your community) as it incorporates into nature, and not as a replacement for the environment around it. The class was 12 people and was a good and interesting bunch of people. It reminded me of graduate school where you are focused on a topic and it can be more investing than undergraduate classes were (just saying for me at least).

The Commute Green week was an outgrowth of an event designed to encourage people to travel by bike. The goal of the week is to inform the public about the benefits of carpooling, walking, biking, or taking transit. We had great partners for the week, including Adelle's coffee shop, C & J, COAST, Holey Rosary Credit Union, and New Hampshire Coffee Roasters. According to, over 48,000 vehicle miles were saved last week in NH, by commuting.

We saw almost 50 people stop into the transportation center on Chestnut Street between 6 am and 10 am. I got to pretend I was a barista (or barrister as auto spell check suggests), and serve coffee (not very well, I forgot sugar - we got some, and stir sticks. It was great to chat with the people who commute everyday. The pastries were a success and the interactions with the Station Hosts were the best part.

The Station Hosts are a great group of individuals who volunteer their time to come and meet the train when it is in Dover. The hosts open the transportation center a half hour prior to the arrival of the train and help people with the quick track ticket machine. While they might be there for the train, they are also quite aware and educated about the COAST, Wildcat and FastTrans systems in place as well. Their service really benefits the community as a whole.

Saturday was the clean up day. This event is great. It allows three areas we are working on to come together. The Community Trail, conservation efforts, and sustainability efforts, all come together with the assistance of Great Bay Trout Unlimited, the City and Measured Progress.

Trout Unlimited and Measured Progress have been tremendous partners and community members. Their assistance, leadership and efforts have made Dover a better community, and made it easier for many projects to get completed along the rural portion of the community trail. If you haven't been down to that end, please check the trail, starting at Watson Rd. Speaking of Watson Rd, starting in June work will commence on the trailhead/parking lot off Watson Road. This will make it easier to visit the trail. Not only easier, but I should add, safer.

One last item, I began week four of walking to work. Its been successful and enjoyable. If you can try it, I encourage you to do so. Its worth the time and effort.

OK, one more last item, if you listen to podcasts, check out How to do Everything, a whimsical cast about doing very odd and different tasks (how to catch a fish with your hand etc...).

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