Jeff Speck in New Albany at noon on Thursday, January 16, courtesy of Mayor Gahan and Develop New Albany.


Last year, when I first began toting Jeff Speck’s book around town to meetings of various government bodies, there would be looks of pained incredulity, suggesting that overnight, I’d come to resemble Gregor Samsa’s enlarged insect.

Among those who did not have this reaction, and understood the issues raised in Speck’s book, was Joe LaRocca and Stefanie Griffith. In addition, Mayor Jeff Gahan has offered qualified support for certain tenets of walkability (including my own pet project, a two-way street grid) both publicly and privately. While such matters never move fast enough for me, and I’m not backing away one inch from the position that planners in a largely unplanned town owe us some explanations as to the direction of their decision-making, it would be churlish and short-sighted not to give the mayor credit for helping bring Speck to town, if only briefly.

Symbolically, it’s huge. Naturally, thanks to Joe and Stefanie, too.

I’ll be there at noon on the 16th. It’s a workday … but who can join me?

Mayor Jeff Gahan, in conjunction with Develop New Albany, is pleased to bring Mr. Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, to New Albany for the first event in a series of public education sessions. Mr. Speck will be speaking at the Strassweg Auditorium in the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library on Thursday, January 16th at noon. This event is free of charge and open to the public.

Mr. Speck is a city planner and architectural designer who, through writing, lectures, and built work, advocates for smart growth and sustainable design. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and created the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, a federal program that helps state governors fight suburban sprawl. Prior to joining the Endowment, Mr. Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk and Co., a leading practitioner of the New Urbanism, where he led or managed more than forty of the firm’s projects.

He is the co-author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream as well as The Smart Growth Manual. He serves as a Contributing Editor to Metropolis Magazine, and on the Sustainability Task Force of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His new book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, is now available in print, digital, and audio format.

“I’m very excited to welcome this internationally acclaimed author to New Albany,” stated Mayor Gahan. “This is the perfect timing for Mr. Speck to visit as we evaluate our downtown street grid.” Joe LaRocca, Executive Director at the Floyd County YMCA branch said that, “Having personally read Mr. Speck’s Walkable City, I think that this public education session will be a great opportunity to look at and learn how we can improve New Albany’s walkability and bikeability.”

“We are very pleased that we were able to partner with Mayor Gahan to bring Mr. Speck to New Albany,” stated Stefanie Griffith, President of Develop New Albany.

For more information on Jeff Speck, visit his website at