CaRDI Publications

CaRDI publications provide our readers with research-based information to help foster dialogue at the local, regional and state-level, and to inform public and private decision-making around critical community and economic development issues. Our publications are written by university faculty, state agency representatives, and CCE Educators, among other partners.

These publications are free for public reproduction with proper accreditation. For questions and comments about the CaRDI publications, please contact Jennifer Jensen at jkj37@cornell.edu.

CaRDI Publications

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Defining the Rural Wealth Impacts of Regional Food Systems

Published: 
Sep 27, 2016
Policymakers increasingly view local and regional food systems as a priority for supporting rural development in America. Between 2009 and 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) invested more than $1 billion in over 40,000 local food systems projects.1 However, our ability to assess the impacts of these investments is still limited. Most existing measurement efforts focus on short-term economic impacts, but growth-focused indicators shed little light on changes to wider notions of wealth and wellbeing in rural communities. If researchers can develop more comprehensive ways to measure the broader impacts of local and regional food systems, policymakers and extension educators can more effectively design and target rural community development support. Read more

Why Some New Yorkers Don't Vote

Published: 
Sep 15, 2016
Issue 74/September 2016
by Jan Vink and Robin Blakely-Armitage, Cornell University
The 2016 U.S. Presidential election has attracted an enormous amount of attention, both positive and negative. But it remains to be seen whether this attention will translate into action, i.e.voting. Americans have notoriously low voter participation rates compared to citizens of many other democracies in the world. Even though voter turnout is highest during presidential election years, only 56.5% of eligible voters actually cast a ballot in the last cycle (2012). A recent article in the NYTimes explains that what separates voters from nonvoters is not as straightforward as demographics, although income, race and age certainly play a role. Rather, the decision to vote or not is motivated by a combination of factors.

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Living with Water: Integrating Community Sustainability and Resilience

Published: 
Aug 2, 2016
What is the Issue?
Over half of the world’s human population now lives in urban areas, and an estimated 30% to 40% of greenhouse gases produced worldwide are attributed to cities. While cities are major drivers of environmental and social change in global systems, their geography and density also make them vulnerable to stressors ranging from climate change and pollution to chronic poverty and crime. The problem is particularly acute in thousands of smaller U.S. cities that lack the technical and fiscal capacity to strengthen their aging social and infrastructure systems. Understanding the resilience of cities can help inform and guide local governments onto a more sustainable trajectory of development. Read more

Community Wellbeing Indicators, Beyond GDP

Community Wellbeing
Published: 
Jun 1, 2016
By Yunji Kim [1], Cornell University

Improving human wellbeing is a goal of most communities and nations around the world. But how do we measure it? Since the Great Recession, gross domestic product (GDP) and other growth-centric frameworks have been critiqued as not adequately capturing social welfare or progress. For example, while the GDP in the U.S. has recovered and continues to grow in recent years, unemployment and poverty remain above pre-Recession levels.

What we measure and how we measure it matters, because our goals are often specified and evaluated by these indicators. Scholars and policymakers have suggested alternative measures of progress, such as community wellbeing.
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The Economic Implications of Using NYS Farm Products in School Lunches

School lunch
Published: 
Apr 1, 2016
Research & Policy Brief / Issue 72 / April 2016
By Brad Rickard, Todd Schmit, and Pam Shapiro, Cornell University

A significant amount of food is sourced for school lunches in New York State (NYS), which is procured at a cost of more than $366 million for 281.6 million school lunches per year. Food service directors currently source food through collective bids and pooling purchases, where they are encouraged to purchase locally- produced foods, but they are not mandated or incentivized to do so. Recently, there has been interest in finding ways to increase the proportion of local food in school lunches, which is expected to increase revenues for local farmers and related businesses. Unfortunately, the directors of school lunch programs face very tight budgets, and many are not able to spend additional money to procure local foods.

One way to encourage food service directors to procure more local foods is to offer reimbursements to compensate for the added costs of purchasing local food ingredients. A group of Cornell University researchers has evaluated the benefits and costs of potential proposals that seek to incentivize local food purchases in NYS school districts. Findings from this research suggest that if NYS lawmakers provide an additional $0.05-per- lunch subsidy incentive to food service directors that use local fruits or vegetables one day per week (e.g., “Thursday is Eat NY Day”), it would likely have an overall positive economic effect for farmers and local economies in NYS. Read more

Creative Placemaking: Linking Arts, Culture, and Community Development

OWFF
Published: 
Feb 1, 2016
Research & Policy Brief / Issue 71 (download PDF)
By Paula Horrigan, Cornell University

It is a familiar scenario in the downtowns of many “rust belt” cities across the Northeast: Oneida Square in Utica, New York, lacks social activity and aesthetic appeal, there are few places to sit or safely walk, and it is known around town as an unwelcoming and unsafe place. This area of Utica has seen some recent infrastructure upgrades—a roundabout, new sidewalks, and lighting—but it still falls dramatically short in the neighborhood and city’s eyes. Utica and underserved neighborhoods like Oneida Square bear a visible legacy of disinvestment, urban decay, and public spaces that prioritize automobiles over people.

Yet Oneida Square is a home to one of Utica’s most diverse downtown neighborhoods in a city hoping to benefit from the trend of people returning to cities. Cities rich in arts and culture attract people because of their quality of life, character, and opportunities for participation and investment. A growing movement called creative placemaking puts arts and culture at the center of community development efforts. Utica’s Oneida Square has been the focus of recent creative placemaking activities that have had positive effects on the neighborhood. Read more

Conservation and Land Use: Linking Municipal Capacity and Biodiversity Outcomes

Conservation and land use Figure 1
Published: 
Dec 16, 2015
Research & Policy Brief / Issue 70  (download PDF)

From zoning to wetland protection to decisions about  how to allocate land for open space or development, municipal governments make decisions that can significantly impact habitat and natural areas. The clear role of local decision makers in conserving biodiversity has led to calls for greater incorporation of ecology and conservation biology principles in local land use planning.

To educate and support decision makers in the 260 municipal governments of the biodiverse and populous Hudson River Estuary watershed, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University established the Conservation and Land Use Program in 2001. The extension program provides planning tools, training, and technical and financial assistance to municipal officials in the watershed.

It is important to understand how well this type of extension programming can influence municipal land use practices to achieve meaningful conservation outcomes. Using the Conservation and  Land Use Program as its focus, a recent study examined how conservation of habitat and natural areas is incorporated into land use planning by municipal officials who have participated in the program. Read more

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