Framing Livability

The Issue:         

 Many sustainability-related goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions (including carbon) or protecting the natural environment often do not resonate with the general public. As a result, the efforts of public agencies to create more sustainable development based on these goals often fail to garner public support. This has created a situation in which the success of sustainability goals and initiatives is sometimes more dependent on effective communication strategies than on a project’s sustainability merits or on an agency’s technical capacity.

The Research:

This work seeks to answer how sustainability-focused community development efforts can be communicated in the most effective way to garner public support. Although sustainability and livability are deeply intertwined, the general population often does not perceive them equally. By merging the resources, expertise, and energy of SCI and the School of Journalism and Communication, we are fostering a heightened and engaged understanding of livability, its opportunities for communities, and a lasting cross-disciplinary partnership within the University of Oregon.

The Questions:

  • How do agencies, scholars and citizens define livability?
  • How do these definitions affect planning, urban design, and transportation project development and communication/outreach?
  • How does incorporating livability principles into planning projects affect the outcome and funding of those plans?
  • What aspects of livability resonate most with different populations?
  • How can this information best inform public agencies for project development and effective communication strategies?

Defining Livability:

Defining Livability

SCI Faculty along with an SCI Graduate Student Fellow are performing an extensive literature review to explore and outline the current meanings of livability and its relation to public health, sustainability and transportation and development projects. This project directly seeks to answer what livability is, and how have agencies currently used the term in their development work. This research examines the use of academic studies related to definitions of livability, including citizen perceptions as well as the analytical review of state and local policies in Oregon to gain an understanding of how governments describe and define livability.

  • Audience: NGOs, State Transportation Agencies, MPOs, Academics
  • Funding: SCI

Effectiveness of Transportation Funding Mechanisms for Achieving National, State, and Metropolitan Economic, Health, and Other Livability Goals

Dr. Rebecca Lewis and Dr. Robert Zako are studying the outcomes of transportation projects in states and metropolitan areas that rely on livability-related performance measures and assesses whether the incorporation of these principles influences the types of projects funded. This project addresses how incorporating livability principles into transportation plans impacts outcomes and funding sources. Click here for more information.

  • Audience: NGOs, State Transportation Agencies, MPOs, Academics
  • Funding: SCI, NITC

Messaging Livability:

Framing Livability: A Strategic Communications Approach to Improving Support for Public Transportation in Oregon

A team of planning and strategic communications researchers is conducting formative research (Phase 1) and developing, testing and refining messaging.  This research uses the Powell/Division Transportation Corridor in Portland, Oregon as a case study  (Phase 2). This project examines how different populations understand livability, and how this information translates into messaging techniques that can be used by public agencies. Click here for more information.

  • Audience: City of Portland, Portland METRO, TriMet, Government Agencies, Academics
  • Funding: NITC, City of Portland

Successful Transportation Ballot Initiatives

An SCI planning and public administration graduate fellow is inventorying transportation ballot initiatives in Oregon to analyze the language and content of successful and failed ballot initiatives in Oregon over the last 20 years.  The inventory will focus on active transportation and transit projects that relate to sustainability and livability goals. This project examines how effective ballot initiatives were worded, marketed and communicated. Read the report here.

  • Audience: Academics, Local Agencies, NGOs
  • Funding: SCI

Case Studies Development - Livability Communication

A SCI journalism and communications graduate student Fellow is developing case studies from around the country to study best-management strategic communication practices that contextualize and infuse livability into community planning and development projects. This project examines communication practices are the most effective in different cities around the country, and how agencies have employed these strategies.

  • Audience: Academics, Local Agencies, NGOs
  • Funding: SCI

Assessing State Efforts to Integrate Transportation, Land Use and Climate

The research team will catalog programs and policies influencing transportation investments and development patterns, which may affect implementation of climate action strategies in the transportation and land use sector. Focusing on state-level plans and regulations, the research team will identify strengths and weaknesses of the transportation-land use-climate policy framework within California, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington, and seek to identify opportunities to improve the existing frameworks by offering policy recommendations, implementation strategies and recommendations for better agency coordination. Finally, lessons learned from these four states will inform other states attempting to reduce GHG emission from transportation. Click here for more information.

  • Audience: NGOs, State Transportation Agencies, MPOs, Academics
  • Funding: NITC, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon DOT, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Oregon Environmental Council