F. Kaid Benfield is senior counsel for environmental strategies at PlaceMakers, LLC, a planning and development consultancy working across the US and Canada.
Based in Washington, DC, Kaid is also a senior adviser to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law; co-founder, LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system; co-founder, Smart Growth America coalition; author of several books on smart growth and sprawl, and a regular contributor to the websites The Huffington Post, Sustainable Cities Collective, Better Cities and Towns, and NRDC's Switchboard. He was selected as one of the world’s “top urban thinkers” on the city planning website Planetizen and one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
Environmentalists used to think of cities as a source of environmental problems, but I see them as a source of environmental solutions, enabling living patterns that reduce pollution and consumption. At their best, they also support efficient commerce and nurture the human spirit. People Habitat is a collection of thoughts about how to make to maximize cities’ endless potential to support greener, healthier living.
This is the fourth book about some aspect of cities with my name on the cover. I am excited about it: It is the one truest to my heart and was the most fun to write. Unlike the others, each of which pursued a singular topic in depth and explored points of advocacy on behalf of my employers, this one comes from me alone. I intend it to be broad in its reach, exploring many issues related by no more of a central premise than asking readers to think with me about how to make human settlement as good as possible. That may sound a bit glib, but I hope to persuade you to join me in considering some of the more difficult issues, the ones where the answers aren’t so clear.
People Habitat is less expository writing than storytelling, more illustration than proclamation. While I will always say exactly what I think – or believe I am learning – about these subjects, polemic writing and thinking don’t interest me. The nooks and crannies do. We live in a world of questions as much as answers; anyone who pretends to have all the answers is faking it, in my humble opinion.
To me the notions in these 25 essays include salient ones, challenging ones, and a couple that are just fun. They can be read in any order you like. They are the stories I most wanted to share, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Other books by Kaid Benfield include Solving Sprawl; Once There Were Greenfields; Smart Growth in a Changing World (Jonathan Barnett, editor); A Citizen’s Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development; and Reaping the Revenue Code.