Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Fun (Work) Websites to Visit

Oops! Hit that publish button too soon. Should never have two publishable pages right next to each other on my screen.

Not that there aren't interesting activities going on around the technical assistance network, but here are some enjoyable, fun and illuminating resources from other sources.

New York City is mapping 311 complaints. What will this accomplish? Not only will city government staff be able to see where the potholes are, but so will the neighbors. This type of device offers as much for rural residents, who live rather far apart, as for the uber-urban stoop-sitting folks of Brooklyn, who tend to gab when they run into each other. By the way, in my childhood area code, no one is kvetching about transit, though residents are not happy with parking meters and blocked driveways.

[Fish-shaped bike rack in Long Beach, CA, right near the beach.]

If you are looking for a new toy, this is it. Trust me, this new tool from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is addictive. It is an interactive county map of the U.S. with statistical and demographic information. Look up elderly populations, density, jobs, and so much more. A valuable instrument for work, with fascinating information, and fun.

Yes, you can find everything on the Internet, including conference materials. This PowerPoint presentation explains the Wisconsin mobility management program.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Employment Transportation: TA for Different Goals

Using math terms in a completely incorrect way, I will say that communities can have parallel goals that intersect. Though we learn in geometry that parallel lines never meet, in real life, completely separate initiatives sometimes have much in common and do in fact get together. Here are two examples of technical assistance resources in which commuter transportation serves two different goals: one, the primary purpose of every person going to work to actually be transported in some way to his or her job, and two, to make sure that our communities contribute to improving the environment and the air that we all breathe.

Getting to Work

Community Transportation Association of America
The Joblinks Employment Transportation Center at CTAA has a webpage devoted to workforce development transportation solutions. The page has examples of communities around the country that use workforce boards, community colleges and other partners to find transportation options for people going to work and school.

Getting to Work While Improving the Air

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
EPA's Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program is seeking letters of interest, due Feb. 23, 2011, to choose 20 communities for technical assistance:
geared toward communities that are relatively new to implementing sustainable communities development approaches but that have a basic understanding of the livability principles and how they apply locally. Appropriate Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program communities recognize that they have development challenges and are trying to kick-start the conversation about how to address a specific local issue.
Some of the tools the program will be offering involve commuter transportation, complete streets, zoning, and greenhouse gas reduction.

The TA provided will take place "over the course of one day, with minimal upfront preparation and no formal follow-up." Meetings with community stakeholders will be the avenue for the TA.

[Union Station in LA flanked by buses.]

Communities that send in letters of interest to EPA, whether selected or not, and are interested in commuter transportation as a way of addressing environmental problems, should check out Joblinks and other TA resources in the Technical Assistance Provider Network.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rural Webinars

National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)
NADO's current Rural Transportation newsletter is full of information relevant to those who work with rural communities.

The NADO Research Foundation and RPO America are hosting a webinar on Feb. 15, 2011 showcasing the work of two award-winning organizations on rural and small metropolitan alternative transportation. One of the presentations will focus on rural travel demand management via a website and outreach materials that address transportation options throughout the region.

National Rural Transit Assistance Program
RTAP will be hosting a webinar on Feb. 17, 2011 to showcase its recently released training module, Emergency Procedures for Rural Transit Drivers. Information about the webinar is available at

[Very opposite of rural is a Brooklyn subway station, which commemorates Sheepshead Bay's past as a fishing village. You can still fish in the bay.]