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Published on September 1st, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Build Happy Communities: “Neighborhood Planning Conference”

“Striving for Happiness” is more than a theme for Richland County’s neighborhood planning conference this year – it also describes a vision of creating healthy, vibrant and involved communities.

The Neighborhood Planning Conference is a free event from 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11 at the Columbia Convention Center where guest speakers will offer helpful tactics about neighborhood planning and development. The conference is open to everyone, and it provides an opportunity for certified planners to further their training, at no cost.

“The conference will provide resources and practical information that attendees can apply in their communities to achieve and sustain healthy and happy neighborhoods,” said Brandon Madden, one of several County employees coordinating the conference. “This is a really great resource for every citizen – community leaders, elected officials, professional planners, architects and neighborhood residents.”

The two Richland County neighborhood organizations with the most conference attendees will each receive a $250 grant to be used for a neighborhood project, such as a monument sign, park or after-school program.

Headlining the event is Abraham Goldberg, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science at the University of South Carolina Upstate. His research supports the idea that the quality of life in residential areas can be directly influenced by the built environment around it. An article he co-authored called “Understanding the Pursuit of Happiness in Ten Major Cities” has received international attention from top scholars and media outlets.

County Councilman Torrey Rush, District 7, will co-present a session titled “Take a Walk in a New Park – A County and Community Success Story.” The session includes a “mobile workshop,” a first for the conference. Attendees will travel by bus to view Crane Creek Park, a neighborhood park that’s undergoing redevelopment.

Staff from the Richland County Ombudsman’s Office and Development Services Department will speak about County services available to neighborhoods. The conference also will feature Richland County School District representatives, real estate agents and members of regional organizations that provide services and information that help build better communities.

“We also really enjoy hosting this conference as a way to thank our citizens and neighborhood leaders for the countless hours they spend making their neighborhoods and the County a better place to live,” said Richland County Planning Director Tracy Hegler.

Registration for the Neighborhood Planning Conference is free, though attendees are encouraged to register in advance. For more information, including a complete schedule of events and registration forms, visit rcgov.us or call the Ombudsman at 803-929-6000.

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