Improving the “People Habitat” is the Key to Protecting Wildlife Habitat

by Dom Nozzi

Late in 2011, Ethan Kent described how “placemaking” (the art of making wonderful, lovable places for people) was the “new environmentalism.” His article can be found here:

The thesis of this article is what has kept me interested in town planning for the past 22 years.

I got a degree in environmental science because I felt 25 years ago that environmental conservation was the key to improving quality of life. But as you will see in this article, environmentalism became too dry and abstract to keep people like me interested.

Environmentalism was also missing a crucial point — missing an essential way to protect the natural environment.

Regardless of how strong our environmental conservation regulations were written and enforced, they would be completely overwhelmed and undermined if the towns and cities where humans had lived since the beginning of civilization were designed to be so hideously repellant to people that a large number of us desperately wanted to flee the city. And that flight resulted in the steamrolling obliteration of much of the important, sensitive wildlife habitat that so often is found in areas surrounding our cities.

In other words, the push since the early decades of the 20th Century to create cities for happy cars rather than happy people was unintentionally inducing an enormous desire for millions of people to seek the “greener pastures” of suburban sprawl.

In about 1990, I learned about place-making – the art of making people happy instead of cars.

It was an epiphany.

The path to a better world – for the work I engage in, at least – is most effectively achieved not by fighting for stronger federal regulations regarding smokestack emissions or water pollution – important as that is in its own way – but by doing what I can to get communities to reach a tipping point, where leaders and citizens start seeing that the return to the timeless tradition of making walkable, people-friendly places (by reining in the dominance of the car) is the best path to a happier, prouder, more sustainable and lovable future.


Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.


Or email me at: dom[AT]

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = Hardcover =

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

My Adventures blog

Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog

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Filed under Environment, Sprawl, Suburbia

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