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Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) has announced the CNU Best of Fest winner at the inaugural New Urbanism Festival. SagaCity is a sixteen minute animated film short that tells the tale of cities across America, and the world for that matter. It’s a cautionary tale of climate change, that, unfortunately, we are learning a bit too late. Or are we?

This is a story of SagaCity, or Buffalo, or Chicago, or Boston, or any other city that continues to build outward rather than building dense pockets of life. The further away that we get from our neighborhood cores, and the collective resources that are within walking distance of our homes and businesses, the more we must rely on the automobile and built infrastructure to support it.

If you follow the tale of SagaCity, you will undoubtedly recognize many scenarios that we have discuss on Buffalo Rising time and time again. The video short discusses urban sprawl, our love of the car, and our inability to affect change due to our growing reliance on all forms of technology.

When was the last time you saw a plot of forest land without a “For Sale” sign on it, or a “Build to Suit” sign? To think that we are moving further and further away, often times to get away from the things that made us move in the first place. It’s a vicious circle if you think about it. Parking lots, roadways, McMansions, strip malls and McChurches are leading to a big, big mess unless we take the time to rethink our way of life.

Nobody wants to sacrifice, and everyone wants to live the American dream, even if that means closing our eyes to the problems that we are causing. Developers will continue to develop wherever they can, especially on land that looks like its unused. Well, guess what? That land is being used for things that we just don’t think about because we have become desensitized to nature. How many times have we complained about deer intruding upon our lives? Guess what? It’s the exact opposite.

While we’re still busy creating heat islands, there are some people out there who are coming up with forward thinking tactics to reverse the trends that we have come to think of as natural. What do new construction rules and zoning regions look like? What about car sharing and communal bike services? These are some of the things that Buffalo is getting onboard with, but at the same time this movement is just the tip of the iceberg and must be supplemented with bigger and broader approaches.

If you have sixteen minutes to spare over the next few days, considering sitting down and watching this informative video that tells the story of practical urbanist methods that are intended to enhance our quality of life and combat climate change.

While many BRO readers are familiar with the actions and the inactions featured in SagaCity, I bet that there are a few things that we can all learn. More importantly, we can use this video as a tool to share with others, including the younger generation of Buffalonians who will be tasked to safeguard our planet. Thankfully, there are a few progressive cities that are implementing these sorts of practices, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel… instead we can learn from others who are leading the way.

2013 Awards

Best of Fest:  Saga City by Vivre En Ville

Best Urban Design Short Film:  Seaside, City of Ideas by First and Main

Best Tactical Urbanism Short Film:  Borrowed Light by Olivia Huynh

Best Bicycle Short Film:  Heart and Soul by Vancouver Cycle Chic

Best Healthy Cities Short Film:  Transitions Mar Vista by Stephon Litwinczuk

Emerging Ideas Award:  The Urban Conga


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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