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[T]he greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure.
Charles Darwin

The 5 Principles: Diversity


Diversity: Mix It Up!

Why does Community Heritage Group encourage "diversity"? Planning can adopt a standardized approach because itís easier for policymakers to create uniform codes, instead of dealing with the "mess" of diversity. Itís also simpler for builders to churn out neighborhoods and office parks if everything more or less follows a similar template. It may be easier to plan and build uniformly, but experience argues that homogenous communities are not as economically, socially, or aesthetically attractive. While people complain, "Everyplace looks like everyplace else," communities continue to ratify zoning regulations that produce bland buildings, single-purpose clusters (shopping, office parks, housing), one-dimensional economies, and less socioeconomic variety.

For example: Many suburbs eschew anything unique; subdivisions look alike and codes prohibit differentiation. Further, developments include only homes Ė no stores or other gathering places (which are located in another pod). The typical suburb is often not very socio-economically diverse, and retirement communities are even more segregated and standardized. Itís understandable why the suburbs flourished after WWII Ė it was a time of abundant land, cheap resources, and a post-war generation seeking comfort. Unfortunately, itís pretty clear that more people and businesses are gradually turning away from imposed uniformity Ė seeking difference, diversity, and uniqueness, i.e. character!

Bottom Line: Regulations and zoning that promote uniformity were often written for the convenience of planners and developers, and some codes are outdated or misapplied. Just as towns shouldnít put all their economic marbles in one basket (for obvious reasons), so too should they diversify their built, natural, and social portfolios. Business consultants argue that products must differentiate themselves in order to compete; CHG believes communities should do the same.

DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY HERITAGE GROUP: CHG Programs maintain that sameness (in design, demographic mix, job base, or natural setting) is generally hostile to a regionís economy and quality of life. Central to the phrase "Communities of Character" is the word "character," which suggests difference, uniqueness, personality.

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