Transcript - Dana Hoffman
[00:00:00] Kyle King: Welcome to the Crisis Conflict and Emergency Management Podcast, where we have global conversations and share perspectives about international crisis preparedness and how to build more resilient societies. My name is Kyle, and I will be your host. And just how vulnerable are we to the changing international environment and what can we learn from this experience?
[00:00:18] From AI to space warfare, to community development and crisis communications, there's something here for everyone. Join us for unique international conversations and perspectives into the current threats, challenges, and risks to our society. This podcast is brought to you by Capacity Building International and sponsored by the International Merchant Management Society.
[00:00:45] Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Crisis Conflict of Merchant Management Podcast with Kyle King. That's me. I'm the Managing Director of Capacity Building International, and today I'm joined by Dana Hoffman, who is a transportation planning professional focused on sustainable transportation, infrastructure planning, hazard mitigation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
[00:01:03] Dana has 11 years of experience working with local governments on long-range plans to achieve more sustainability and a developed future. She's focused on climate impact and making our cities more livable, equitable, and environmentally resilient through smart land use and transportation plans and policies.
[00:01:19] Dana leads the climate mitigation and adaptation related initiatives for the city of Denver, Department of Transportation Engineering with a focus on transportation, while also supporting these efforts for other infrastructure projects overseen by the department.
[00:01:33] So Dana, thanks for joining us today on the show. It's really great to have you here.
[00:01:37] Dana Hoffman: Yeah, I'm glad to join. Thanks for inviting me.
[00:01:40] Kyle King: So you're currently joining us from Australia. Yeah. So good for you. Thanks staying up late and having a chat with us.
[00:01:47] Dana Hoffman: No problem. Glad to be on.
[00:01:49] Kyle King: Now, I think one of the things I wanted to talk about with you specifically in terms of transportation and of course and towards more sustainable cities and communities, was really the struggle that I've seen happen, I think specifically in a lot of European cities.
[00:02:03] And I'm just saying that because I live in Europe. I'd love to get your sort of perspective on this. But there's been just so many sort of discussions and they eventually turn political about balancing transportation, sustainability, especially in large cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, other cities that want to really balance out community development, transportation needs, and requirements and eventually overall sustainability of their communities.
[00:02:29] And so I wanted to bring you on the show and just hear some of the perspectives about what you do in your day-to-day work and some of the challenges that you see in your field, and where are we progressing and where are we going and how do we get there? And I thought we'd just start with that.
[00:02:43] So what is it like for you in your sort of day-to-day work that you're doing, and what are the topics you're dealing with?
[00:02:48] Dana Hoffman: Yeah, I mean that, that is a big tension, right? All of the balancing act of our roadways and how we use them for many different purposes. So historically, so I've been working with the city of Denver for about five years now.
[00:03:00] I just changed roles to be really more climate focused, which I'm excited about, but I actually spent the last four plus years really working on bike and pedestrian related projects. The city has a pretty aggressive goal. I think over the last five years we installed 125 miles of new bike facilities, so we're not really on the same level as some of those European cities that you're talking about.
[00:03:23] But that same tension has been happening we're we are really trying to bring more bicycle infrastructure, better pedestrian infrastructure, and then working with our transit agency too into a city that historically is a cow town. Big trucks, people driving everywhere. We have a pretty strong bike culture as well.
[00:03:41] So that's all in that space. And we have a strong environmental ethic. One of the reasons I have my new role is that city Denver opted into a sales tax that's going to fund a climate protection fund and it's pretty big tax. So there's a lot of support for sustainability. But that tension of when you look at a given roadway, and that's where my job has been [for the] last four or five years. When we look and we have a plans network, that's every fourth mile we're gonna have a safe bikeable space. But when you look at that given street, there's always give and take, right? Sometimes it's removing parking from that street. Sometimes it's changing the nature of the street and how many lanes of travel there are. So there's just always a trade off involved, and it's an ongoing conversation with community members about what that trade off looks like and understanding the bigger picture. I think a lot of the time it's bringing people back to that second level. We all want to have a more sustainable system. We as a growing city, can't just do it by adding more roadway. We have to change the paradigm and move towards these other modes of transportation.
[00:04:50] And we have to do it in a way that makes sense. So sometimes we're changing the design based on community feedback and sometimes it's just a matter of education and communication. And it does end up getting political sometimes. And sometimes we can come up with creative designs that make it work. So it's really a mixed bag, but it's exciting to see the momentum as we move towards a more bikeable city in Denver. So it's rewarding work, even though it's challenging.
[00:05:15] Kyle King: I was recently visiting the states and I was struck by the fact that when you're living in a European city, a lot of these areas are bikeable. There's obviously the mass transportation in a lot of areas, and it's the same in the states, right?
[00:05:27] You go to bigger cities like New York and Chicago and there's transportation systems and everything else like that and in many other cities across the states. But it was also shocking at how there was a lack of overall transportation and different modalities outside of city limits, right? And outside a certain zone. Then everything just stops and you're on your own. Going anywhere is vehicle driven and everything else like that. But so really a lack of sort of the trains and the rail networks and what we're used to in a European environment to be able to just jump on a train and go to different regions or districts and things like that. And so, it is interesting to see that difference in almost the transportation culture between the United States and also Europe.
[00:06:12] And so what are some of the challenges that you're facing when trying to evolve communities and the urban planning environment and what are some of the common discussions that you're having when you're trying to integrate these more sustainable solutions?
[00:06:28] Dana Hoffman: I think there's two big things that are challenges, right? One is the infrastructure itself. So when you think about Europe, Germany, Berlin. Berlin's really old, right? Most of that infrastructure started in the 900s, 1200s, where it goes back pretty far. When you look at a city like Denver, most of the development happened post 1960. So the car was already the big mode of transport by and large. So that means that we had bigger blocks, for instance, just the nature of the blocks and the nature of the development is different. The challenge of density as well. So that's part, and that leads into the cultural component, which is for the second piece I wanna talk about, but that we have low density housing and low density development, generally speaking, and transit specifically really does much better when you have higher density. And a lot of my career has been trying to bring together these two pieces that is sometimes obvious for people to understand, but sometimes not that our land use decisions and our zoning decisions are just totally caught up in what the transportation network looks like and what different modes can be successful.
[00:07:39] So there's that challenge of shoehorning transits, bike, and ped into a system that was fully designed around the car. Sometimes that helps us in Denver, with really big wide streets. So sometimes the trade off isn't as bad as it could be if you're in New York and there's already narrow streets and you're trying to fit four different modes on it, it's a different kind of challenge.
[00:08:00] But by and large, having a less dense city is a really big challenge to just make it viable, and that's part of it. And then there's American culture, which is the American dream is that suburban home. The American dream is having your own truck and being able to go, having the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want.
[00:08:18] Moving away from that dream, even if it's not really true anymore, right? Americans are stuck in traffic all the time. We lose economically so much money on it and no one wants the air pollution impacts. So the dream's not real, but it's hard to move people away from that and to make sure that we're doing it also in an equitable way. That's another big challenge is making sure we're thinking about investments and sustainability while also thinking about our equity communities that have been hurt in the past as we build new infrastructure. So a lot of challenges.
[00:08:51] Kyle King: I think that's a great point. Culturally, I think being from a larger state myself, like Texas, it's like you have this innate desire to have freedom to go everywhere, and that's gonna remain, and I think that's not gonna change.
[00:09:04] But there is the realization, like you're saying, everybody hates traffic, right? So is there just a better way to get around this? Or do you want to continue to spend, I don't know how many weeks they say we spend in traffic every year, but the time just accumulates and so it just becomes smarter about how we design the way we interact with the environment around us.
[00:09:22] And it works to a large extent. And the density thing I think is a great argument in terms of shifting your thinking. You can still have that low density aspect and your car and things like that if you wanna live outside. But the closer you get to the city, then there's obviously different ways to address these issues and deal with population movements and everything else within these urban environments.
[00:09:41] Dana Hoffman: The message for me is it's a different kind of freedom to be able to hop on a train and not worry about where you're gonna park and not have to worry about traffic. Certainly we've spent most of this trip I was telling you about in Asia and spending a lot of that time in Korea, which is all new infrastructure. They built out most of their transit system not that long ago, 70s and 80s. But you can go to a national park with beautiful mountains that's 40 minutes outside Seoul, and you just hop on a bus and then you can do a one-way trail all the way to the other side of the mountain. You pick up a different bus and you head back in. And that sort of thing, especially for Denverites, they love their outdoor activities. If we can make those kinds of investments, I think that different kind of freedom message will be really helpful. But we have to actually change how we invest and that can be really hard. It's a change in paradigm, a change in how we think about things, and then when you add the later of resiliency, making sure that all those investments include a resiliency component. It can be hard. It's just an expensive venture and a totally different way of thinking. And our department, Departments of Transportation aren't known for wanting to shift and be agile. They like to have certainty and know what works. So working with engineers around those innovative, less clear, hasn't-been-done-before types of projects can be a challenge
[00:11:05] Kyle King: Yeah and speaking of engineers and getting into more technical side, I was recently on a panel talking about military resilience. This was back in May, maybe it's not recently, but like May of last year. Some of the conversations that we were having is along the lines of we're still working with technology that we've had for 30 years or something like that. And so we're still working with the best technology we have today. We're not innovating fast enough to be able to make any rapid changes. So even if we create something today, it's still gonna be 30 years before it can be replaced, you know? So we're still dealing with technology. And then you're talking about top level technology for, say, defense and security applications and things like that.
[00:11:46] These tanks and aircraft and all these things like that will still be around for another 20 or 30 years, right? Because it's the technology we have today. So there's this argument out there in a perspective of we're doing the best with what we have today. So how do we address these challenges of we can only innovate so fast and get the technology in the field to be able to develop the infrastructure to develop the technology we need to be more sustainable? And especially I think you're starting to get into that climate and adaptation role as well, and that's a growing thing that we see across the international work that we do is climate security is a growing space as well.
[00:12:24] Dana Hoffman: Yeah, it's interesting. I don't disagree with that argument. I don't know if you read the Bill Gates book, but he, in his recent climate book, he lays out very scientifically like percentages that can get done within certain frameworks. And one of those is what can we do with existing technology and how much can we do? Do we need to do by developing something new?
[00:12:44] A lot of the projects that we're doing, they really aren't new technology, right? Like we're building protected bicycle lanes and that's just a different form of concrete. Adding a Ballard here in this space. So the design can be a little innovative, but a lot of the materials and stuff are pretty basic and it's just a matter of changing the mode of practice and not doing it the way we used to do.
[00:13:10] And you can do that with a lot of these things. We can add better sidewalk. There's a lot of work that Europe and Asia have already done. So we're not reinventing the oil when we're building a bioswale. I don't know if you're familiar with those, but bioswales is, instead of a curb and gutter, you're using more natural greenery to help move water and clean it and slow it down as you go.
[00:13:32] So for Denver, that's pretty new. But frankly, we have so many other examples from cities across the US and also in other countries where it's already been done before and it's just a matter of tweaking it and getting our engineers comfortable with what someone else has done. It's obviously a little different in every climate and every space. We have to use different grasses, whatever, but a lot of it is there for us to use and it's just finding the way to help people feel comfortable in that space.
[00:14:01] And I think that's where I come in. I'm a bridge in my new role between our climate office, which is really focused on meeting these new aggressive climate goals and private climate programming. They have some money behind them and our department, which is an implementing agency, and they say, look, this works and people can die if we don't do it right. So let's just keep doing what we've been doing. And hey, if it's an extra $400 million over budget, that's your fault being. Sympathetic to that frame of mind, but also giving them the cover and the support and the resources that they need to do what they do well, but also move the direction a little bit and use some of these newer things.
[00:14:39] And again, they're not that new. I think there is a new technology space, and maybe you were talking about this a little bit, about like hovercrafts are coming and we really should be adjusting to those. And that's true too, but I think a lot of sustainability can be achieved with what we already know. We just have to build it that way.
[00:14:57] Kyle King: I think it's an interesting job or role that you have to try and be the integrator between these two sort of ideals. The ideal of "Look-- and I'm just assuming or speculating, presuming whatever the case is-- you have just the hard infrastructure engineering side, which is this is what we know, this is what we can do. It's time tested it works, we know it works, and this is how we develop and build these hard projects. And versus the more idealistic side of we need to get to these sort of goals, we need to reach these goals. How can we push the envelope to get there? And then your role of being the integrator of trying to bridge these two gaps. And it is interesting though, because when you do travel a lot, which I think is a benefit that all Americans should do is there's a lot of things out there that have been done for a very long time that I believe you're right. It is really just the art of the application and how we design our communities and how we rebuild or build or continue to expand.
[00:15:54] And one of the reasons that I think about that quite often is because we're often working at that space of what we call Crisis, Conflict, Emergency Management. And we talk a lot with communities about how or what direction they should be going in. So you have to balance the perspective of what are you capable of today versus where is the community going, where are the goals, the objectives of the international community and in terms of things like climate security and adaptation. And then how can we get there? And there's a growing realization, of course, if we look at the most extreme scenario of the war in Ukraine and what's happening there. And then if you were going to rebuild these societies, what direction should they go in? So it opens up this whole door of the idealistic component plus the technical side.
[00:16:41] While you obviously want to rebuild these communities in a new robust, sustainable way, what does that even look like? That's a tragic, but also opportunity to work with these communities and go in that direction. But I think in terms of the technology and coming back to your point that the integration piece and the art of the integration is gonna be, I think even more and more important and it is gonna be a culture shift, I think, to a sort of extent, because we're used to doing things the way that we do them and have done 'em for a long time.
[00:17:10] Dana Hoffman: Yeah, it's an interesting point on Ukraine. It is weird, right? When a city burns down or other tragedy happens, you have a lot of opportunity to rebuild. Sometimes it seems like a blank slate, but it's never really a blank slate. So part of my previous work has been very deep in community engagement, so you'd really have to sit down with those communities and say, "What from the past do we want to preserve and what can we now, move towards in terms of goals?"
[00:17:45] And some of that's education about what will allow us to be more sustainable? When I talk about higher density development and those core centers, oftentimes it's an education that higher density allows for less traffic, which people, that's not intuitive. But yeah, I think that's like rebuilding New Orleans.
[00:18:04] There were a lot of neighborhoods that were completely wiped out. And that was a great opportunity to rebuild, but it brought up a lot of sort of difficult equity issues of people just wanting to go back to where their home was. And then also saying, why do we have to change and be totally different and take on all of these new fangled practices about where ways to get around when you know the community down the street that's not of color, that isn't a vulnerable community, didn't get hit.
[00:18:32] Yeah, it's a really fraught conversation when you're rebuilding. It seems like a great opportunity to move forward and change things and shift things, but you have to have a really vulnerable and sympathetic and long conversation with community members about what that actually means.
[00:18:48] Kyle King: What is the time delay there? So using a disaster scenario and you mentioned New Orleans and things like that, these communities have been decimated. And then if you wanted to come in with some innovation or new ideas towards rebuilding those communities. What is the time delay in terms of, I'm trying to phrase it right in my head but, what I imagine is we're fixed in our policies, procedures, codes, standards, whatever the case is, but then we want to innovate and you're coming in as an integrator to do the application of some new ideas and maybe adjust things even incrementally is better than staying with what you were at.
[00:19:25] But what is that time delay then? Because there is also this factor of if we are rebuilding this community, you can move rapidly because you've always done things this way and you can rebuild the house the exact same way faster than if you redesign the community.
[00:19:39] So what is that gap in time, I guess is what I'm struggling with, because that's also a factor. We could rebuild tomorrow and you would have your house back, or we could do this really sustainable design of your community and you'll get it back next year.
[00:19:52] Dana Hoffman: Yeah that's a really good [question], that's where the tension is, right?
[00:19:56] Because you want people to have their house back, but there it is just gonna get flooded again in two years if you don't build it. And my director hopefully will be delighted that I say that. She really loves to say, you gotta move slow to move fast. It's like one of her favorite phrases. And the idea behind that is you really need to build community support and have a common vision. Otherwise you're gonna start building down the line and then it's gonna all blow up in your face because the community vision's not there. The community support's not there. Just doing like a new neighborhood plan, we might go through a six to eight month planning process and that's before you finalize design and then you might wanna change your building codes. Ukraine might look at where they are now and say, you know what, our building regulations are just not even where we want them to be anymore. So you have to reinvent the wheel on those pieces and all of that does take time. That's tough if people are living in a state of limbo. So it can take many years to really build back.
[00:20:59] One of the places we visited on this trip was Christchurch in New Zealand, and they had a horrible earthquake that basically resulted in them tearing down about 80% of the CBD. And that was in 2012, I believe. They still have just huge empty lots today. So what are we at least a decade later, and they're still rebuilding a lot of their structures.
[00:21:25] So just getting back to where you started can take a couple decades depending on what's out, what the lay of the land is.
[00:21:32] Kyle King: And we have that issue on the international space as well. If we come in with these higher level ideological sort of perspectives and recommendations, there's always gonna be this gap between what the nation is capable of and then the institutional change required, the cultural change required.
[00:21:51] And then if you just come in [and] hear very often sort of international work of like,
[00:21:56] "Just go to this international standard or go to the EU standard of this."
[00:22:01] There's the same conversations that are happening on the international space, which is like,
[00:22:05] "Okay, do you rebuild the school the way it was so you can resume life? Or do you start to get into this whole technology piece and like the investment and then having to do that top-down legislative piece and then reinvestment and then how does that money flow through the national government then to get fought amongst the regions to the municipalities to be eventually invested in the school? Or can you just rebuild it quickly?"
[00:22:30] I think that prohibits a lot change because it's overwhelming. And I recently had a conversation about like for example, the bunkers and bunker systems. Again if we were using that Ukraine example, but more so if you look at Finland, and they have these a very interesting design aspect within their communities that every building has a bunker underneath it. And so every apartment building house, everything is regulated by their codes and standards to have a bunker underneath of it, which is a full bunker with blast doors and air filtration and all sorts of stuff. And they learned that sort of post World War II. And so [for] over 50-60 years, they have integrated that as part of their society in this civil defense aspect. And they have a lot of it in Switzerland too. But the idea being like, "Hey, if you wanted to institute that now, like in communities that don't have that, [then] that's a lot of work." And I'm not sure people are like, "That's just overwhelming if you start talking about that stuff."
[00:23:27] Dana Hoffman: Yeah. That's really interesting. I do think you do need to bring in the stick at some level, right? Like our federal government and sometimes you just need to play the bad guy, right? They say this money can only be spent if it meets these sustainability criteria. And then local government can come in and say, those bad guys say we need to do this. We're gonna help you out, and then let's try and make that, those, whatever the build back better is. Make it ours, make it something our community can be proud of. But hey, the bad guys say we gotta at least do it this way to get the funding. I don't know, that's maybe a little cynical perspective over here, but I think that can work because it is really hard to move the needle without someone having a stick. And we all know that we can't continue to build the way we have. Our FEMA budget is looking really bad even today. So the change has to happen and we've been having that conversation and how FEMA funds things for probably a decade now, but when it comes to post-disaster, it's just always hard to say no.
[00:24:29] So you have to start here and have legitimate hazard plans in place. Like every community is supposed to have a hazard mitigation plan that's up to date. And the idea is that if this thing does happen, there's at least some idea that's a community vision about where you can move forward without starting from scratch.
[00:24:46] Kyle King: I'm sure there's examples out there where people have done it, but I think they're far and few between as opposed to the expediency of rebuilding quickly so you can resume normalcy and because that's, I think, the driving factor for a lot of people, which is understandable. Like I just, like you mentioned, I just wanna get back to my house and resume and get back to where I was pre-disaster.
[00:25:04] But these are some of the challenges we're faced with today. When you're looking out towards the future and seeing some of the things coming up over the next 5 or 10 years, what are some of the challenges that you're seeing within your domain and from your perspective?
[00:25:18] Dana Hoffman: I talked a little bit about this before. Is thinking more creatively about multi-use, I guess is how I'd put it, or sort of dynamic infrastructure? I'll coin that term. I don't know if that has meaning, but whenever we do have the opportunity to rebuild something, thinking about it, not just a new road or building a new canal, like so we're in the city of Denver.
[00:25:43] They are wanting to rebuild a lot of our stormwater infrastructure that runs two major creeks run right underneath the main part of the city. And it's a major flood risk sort of day-to-day flooding, but also the a hundred year flood. So moving backwards, you have to start at the top and then move all the way upstream is building not just a big pipe in the ground, which is the temptation because that's what we did before. But then, Also providing the green infrastructure component. So can we, instead of building the big pipe, create a surface system that runs along a major community roadway and make it a community asset and a park at the same time? So there's some examples of that are pretty obvious. Like our detention ponds can also be a park, and that's been done before.
[00:26:31] But I think we need to do that with every single piece of infrastructure moving forward. Like any time we make an investment, we need to be thinking about that multipurpose and that resilience piece and that's where a lot of creativity has come in and I don't know who knows that stuff. That's the stuff I feel like I need to be suggesting with every project and finding the people who have those ideas and how they work is one challenge. And the equity component is also just so difficult. This is my personal opinion, but we as a planning profession, urban planner is probably one of our biggest errors of the last century, was building a highway system in the United States that was meant to connect people. And then we built those highways right through communities and usually they were communities of color, vulnerable communities, and they end up functioning instead of connecting people, they're a big wall that divide those communities from economic viability and from their neighbors. So we now have $2 trillion infrastructure bill that got passed last year by the Biden administration. It's a big deal, probably the biggest investment since we built the highway system. But with all that money, I feel like there's the chance that we could make those kind of errors again.
[00:27:48] Sometimes that was unintentional. Sometimes it was very intentional about where they built those highways. But in making these new investments and racing forward towards what we think is more sustainable, I think sometimes we can make that same mistake of not listening to those communities and harming them more than helping them.
[00:28:07] So how do I, on a daily basis, have reducing vehicle miles traveled, which is how I think about reducing our emissions, be my top goal? But also, you can't do that without bringing our equity communities to the table. And sometimes their goals just, they're more worried about safely walking down the street at night than they are about having a fancy new EV charger in their neighborhood.
[00:28:32] So those things tend to butt heads. So we really need to be thinking about them together and robustly. So I think that is a really big challenge for us as we spend all this new infrastructure money across the nation.
[00:28:46] Kyle King: I do think that those are often different dynamics that we do have to explore because like you just mentioned, I mean there's this Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right?
[00:28:54] And then unless nobody cares about an EV charger, if you can't walk the streets at night or if there's no jobs in your community or whatever the case is. It is quite interesting on the one comment that you had about having these professionals that are able to, or having this creative ability, whether that's through people or process or whatever it is, in terms of being able to determine that value added for each community across this, for example, pipeline that's going across multiple communities. I was like, where is the value added for that? Can it be integrated and is it sustainable? And I think that that's a very interesting point because we often think in terms of end-to-end value add.
[00:29:32] So I'm pumping from here and it's being received there.
[00:29:35] Dana Hoffman: That's the engineer's help.
[00:29:38] Kyle King: Yeah. You want this amount of volume at this location, sure. Just to clarify your point, is that something that is coming up and growing as a space that people need to really start exploring? Do you find that there's a sort of a knowledge gap in the profession with regards to that? Or is it a resource issue or is it just simply a cultural mindset thing? Like where's the gap there that people could fill? I mean is that even a profession, I guess would be a question? Are people actually just thinking about these things in that way?
[00:30:08] Dana Hoffman: Yeah, I think it's actually all of the above, especially in the storm water drainage space. We have a sort of green infrastructure team that was in infancy four years ago, and some of it, again, like I said, bioswales have been done everywhere. It's not a new technology, but how you integrate a bunch of different systems effectively and still achieve the end goals. There aren't that many professionals who are that good at that, right?
[00:30:39] We have the US Army Corps, which is really good at building really big dams, but they are less familiar with the ins and outs of every city's own sewer system and storm water system. It actually varies a lot by city across the United States. Not to mention our smaller towns and how all of those operate. So I think green infrastructure, it's not quite my area of expertise, but it comes up over and over again as really important. And it of course bleeds into other things, right? So if you can have a green infrastructure, then you're creating park space. And park space can allow you to have green canopy.
[00:31:19] And green canopy helps reduce the urban heat island. And then you can have more space for bicyclists to get where they wanna go. So all of these things are connected and the those folks who can understand the technical side of drainage and infrastructure, which is pretty technical, but still have that vision of how all these things connect together and greenery and what grows where, and all of those things together is, I think there aren't that many people who know that. The ins and outs of that very well. But yeah, some of it's also about money. It's some of the most expensive infrastructure that any given city can face and some of it's culture. But I think that the need is there for more people to be working in that space.
[00:32:00] Kyle King: That's interesting. There you go. So a lot of people can go out and develop that field and become experts and develop a new career field.
[00:32:08] And it is a lot about money, but that's where I come back [and] reflect upon the sister cities concept that we have in the United States with many other cities that are internationally, and I don't know whose Denver's sister cities are, but basically, there's gotta be other things that can be learned from other cities. And as you mentioned, your travels and looking at how sustainability is approached in various different climates and cultures is really something that we can just take advantage of. And I think from my perspective, highly encouraged, we take this international view, because I have an expression right or wrong in my personal opinion, like there's no plagiarism in policy.
[00:32:40] Right? If you have a good idea, just use it. Nobody's gonna come after you for it and say, oh, you stole our idea about greenery.
[00:32:48] Dana Hoffman: Sincerest form of flattery, I think.
[00:32:50] Kyle King: Yeah, exactly. So I think that there's some good ideas out there that we should all approach and start taking a wider international view of some of this. And that is in our space. That means that we have to take a wider view on some of the recommendations that we provide internationally to communities that are rebuilding. Because it's also heavily adapted to their culture and their environment and you have to take a snapshot of where they are today and where they want to go. And it's not always an application of here's the set of rule books, go with this and here's your standards and start working in that direction. It is far more complicated in that because it's just an incremental progress. It's like, can we just get one step better? Then the national government has to take over responsibility for moving the nation and that right strategy and where they want to go from there. It's just not an easy fix. It's not a quick fix. So that's something that is the biggest problem.
[00:33:40] Dana Hoffman: I'm curious how much time you spend connecting people? A lot of the time I feel like learning from other cities or nations comes down to trust in some ways and like actually going there and meeting the people who are doing the innovation is really key. And that's where I sometimes I wish I knew more international organizations were able to make those connections easily so that you don't just find the rule book or the paper, but you can talk to the people and learn what their lessons were, "lesson-learneds" were, and all that stuff. That kind of learning is really valuable even though it may just be the same information in a report somewhere. Learning it from the people and meeting them in person and talking through the issues can be really helpful.
[00:34:23] Kyle King: It's extremely helpful in some of our more recent work that we've done. It's invaluable. We've recently had a workshop in Poland and there had 40 something people there and had multiple discussions across multiple domains. But the idea is that at least I think, is that you have to be open to ideas because I think one of the biggest problems that I've seen, at least in the international space, is people come over with preconceived ideas and notions about how things should be done and when they encounter like it doesn't have to be that way. It's such a cultural and paradigm shift for a lot of people to understand that the way they've been doing it is not always the right way, or it doesn't have to be that way. It is technically correct in accordance with their laws and standards and things like that, but it doesn't mean it's the only way.
[00:35:06] And I think people have to be very open and confident in understanding that it's just different ideas and the way to approach these different projects, whatever, sustainability or just infrastructure and things like that. Because just the general ideas like that would never work in our community, generally comes up quite a bit.
[00:35:25] Dana Hoffman: Yeah. Some of that comes down to PR and framing, but there are certain communities that you never wanna mention. In Colorado, no one says, this is not New York. This is'nt Paris. Doesn't matter what the idea is.
[00:35:39] Kyle King: Exactly.
[00:35:39] Dana Hoffman: If it's not New York, don't mention New York. You have to frame things certain ways. But yeah, creating that openness is really important.
[00:35:46] Kyle King: It's either that or you get people who are very good, like you're saying, just that can fill this sort of knowledge space. And then they go out and they collect these ideas and then apply the same knowledge to a Denver scenario. And then so they just say, that's a great idea. And then they're never aware of the fact that it is a New York idea. This has been an interesting sort of conversation, a little bit more larger theoretical and strategic than what I originally thought we would be talking about. Sort of the more technical stuff. But I think it's helpful to understand the challenges because those are really the issues that we're gonna be facing if we do want to implement any type of new plans, designs, or community development coming up in the future. It's all gonna be about the people and perspectives and culture that we have to shift.
[00:36:30] And I think we do have to recognize like there's a lot of perspectives out there and they're not too far separate from each other and they're not always wrong. And so we have to learn from others and what other communities are doing. And I see it in Europe quite a bit. If anybody ever goes to Amsterdam, I mean you'll get assaulted by bicycles or everywhere. You can't drive a car anywhere. Even now for me in Europe, like we hesitate driving a car because it's just really problematic. They park anywhere and traffic and everything else. So it's generally train, walking, and bicycles which I imagine is also like in New York or any other sort of big city as well. I think that's something that we just need to be aware of, but we're not gonna get around the human factor just to be able to implement the technology factor.
[00:37:12] Dana Hoffman: Unfortunately not.
[00:37:15] Kyle King: So this has been a great conversation. Thanks Dana. I enjoyed having you on the show. Where can people find you if they wanna connect with you?
[00:37:21] Dana Hoffman: I'm not a huge social media person, but I am on LinkedIn. I think I sent you my LinkedIn information.
[00:37:30] Kyle King: We'll definitely include your LinkedIn on the show notes so people can just connect with you that way. That's probably the easiest way in case you have any questions about the good work you're doing over in Colorado and working in that sustainability field. So thanks a lot. Thanks for joining us. Really appreciate it having you on, and thanks for the conversation.
[00:37:49] Dana Hoffman: Pleasure to chat with you, Kyle.
[00:37:51] Kyle King: All right, thanks.