I’m in Florida on vacation for the week, so posting may be light. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t share something that happened to me today.

Today, we headed down 30-A to visit Seaside, the little town made famous by The Truman Show. Seaside was one of the first planned “smart growth” developments in the country and the brainchild of planner Andres Duany, a man who is often considered the most influential person in American land use planning.

Duany and his wife, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, are the founders of the Congress for New Urbanism and are both outspoken proponents of reinvisioning the way in which America plans communities. Needless to say, I am a big fan of his work and his books, particularly Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.

I’ve been going to Seaside for well over a decade, and nowadays, I usually make the drive for one reason: To buy my summer reading from Sundog Books, one of the few remaining truly independent bookstores in the country.

So while walking up the steps to Sundog this afternoon, I noticed a film crew interviewing a man who looked exactly like Andres Duany. I asked around, and one of the guys at Sundog confirmed that it was, in fact, Duany; he’s in town for a big digital media festival in nearby Alys Beach (also planned by his firm).

Later on, I happened to wander directly into one of the shoots and had the opportunity to hear Mr. Duany speak about the differences between compact density and sprawl “density.”  

When they wrapped up the shoot, I called out to Mr. Duany to tell him that I was a big fan, and he walked up to where I was sitting and sat down to chat.

The film crew obviously saw an opportunity and decided to film our entire conversation. We spoke briefly about the smart growth efforts currently being undertaken in Alexandria and the work that his firm is doing throughout the Great State (which he says is one of his favorite places in the world to work).

He left me with some sage advice, a few book recommendations, and, of course, a small role in whatever the heck they were filming.

If you haven’t read Suburban Nation, buy it now.

Incidentally, I have written about Mr. Duany before on this blog, way back in 2006.

PS: Mr. Duany offered nothing but praise for the work being done by my friends at C-PEX (the Center for Planning Excellence) as well as the ongoing revitalization efforts underway in Downtown Baton Rouge.

3 thoughts

  1. How awesome is that! I just got back from vacation too. Greenville, SC’s downtown has it going on! In every town we stopped, I tried to purchase what we needed from independent stores located downtown or on main street. I look forward to seeing your conversation one day. Hopefully you can track it down and post it on youtube.


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