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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chautauqua Institution wins Livable Community Award

CHAUTAUQUA - Chautauqua Institution has been recognized as one of the world's most livable communities.

At a ceremony in Chicago, Chautauqua Institution was presented with the Silver Award at the International Awards for Livable Communities, also known as the LivCom Awards. The competition, launched in 1997, is endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme and is the world's only competition focusing on best practice regarding the management of the local environment.

Delegations from communities in 22 countries and six continents were in attendance for the five-day finals event, presenting to a panel of international judges and exchanging best practices in a collegial atmosphere.

Chautauqua is the first dedicated community institution to reach the finals of the international competition and the only American finalist in the small community (under 20,000 population) category. Other finalists in the small community category included Emly, Ireland; Haapsalu Municipality, Estonia; Pushchino, Russia; and Trim, Ireland.

"We are very pleased that Chautauqua Institution has received international recognition as a livable community," said Chautauqua President Thomas Becker. "Equally important, we hope this award calls attention to the richness of life in the larger community of Chautauqua County and brings us together to promote tourism and foster civic pride in the region."

Communities in all population categories for the LivCom competition were judged on five criteria: enhancement of the natural and built landscape; arts, culture and heritage; environmental best practices; community participation and empowerment; healthy lifestyle; and strategic planning.

After submitting a written application in June, Chautauqua Institution learned it was a finalist for the Whole City category in August. Attending the finals event on behalf of Chautauqua were Matt Ewalt, publications editor for Chautauqua Institution, Charlie Heinz, community planning associate and former vice president for administrative and community services, architect Marty Serena and summer resident Ernest Mahaffey.

"We were honored to be part of this international gathering of communities that have dedicated themselves to issues of historic preservation, environmental sustainability, civic engagement and lifelong learning," Ewalt said. "Recognizing that the institution does not operate as a city, town or village in the traditional sense, it was important for our delegation to call attention both to Chautauqua's unique functions as well as its true strengths as a livable community and how it functions as a prototype, a model for other communities to draw from."

Ewalt said that the delegation's presentation focused on Chautauqua's efforts to protect Chautauqua Lake through stormwater management, implement energy-saving best practices in all its facilities, and engage all residents and visitors in programs encompassing the arts, education, religion and recreation. Aspects of good community planning and design were also highlighted, including the importance placed on public space, a pedestrian-friendly environment, and a strong connection with nature and the lake.

"Having attended presentations made by other communities at LivCom, I was also impressed by the emphasis on lifelong learning, volunteerism and healthy living by the judges," Ewalt said. "Chautauqua, as a community, truly sets a global standard in these areas and in its focus on community.

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