Season 1



Legacy & Hope: Advancing Biophilic Principles

Steve Nygren talks about finding his purpose in building this utopia for his grandchildren and all the residents that have chosen to spend their lives here.

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Serenbe’s design is based around Biophilia - the idea that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature - and in the final episode of season 1, Steve Nygren talks about finding his purpose in building this utopia for his grandchildren and all the residents that have chosen to spend their lives here.

The biophilic principles are meant to provide personal wellbeing, community engagement, national security and global balance. Those 12 principles are: Land Use, Education, Food Systems, Economic Development, Tax Base, Transportation, Energy, Structures, Waste Management, Community Engagement, Green Infrastructure and Water.

Through the whole first season, Steve has mentioned some of the principles as he talked about what went into creating Serenbe. At the time, Steve was just trying to do what was right for his family and community. Now, Serenbe is a model and there is a Biophilic Institute whose mission is to educate people on the principles and how they can be implemented in other communities. Each year, they host a Biophilic Leadership Summit (April 24-29,2020), which focuses on changing higher-level policy and educating the  next generation.

Steve calls his generation one of hippies and greed, yet believes it is they who have the responsibility to help be the solution to make the world better for generations to come.

Questions Answered

What is Biophilia?

What are the Biophilic Principles and why are they important at every level of development and government?

What is the mission of the Biophilic Institute?

Why doesn’t Steve Nygren plan to build more “Serenbe’s?”

What is the future of Serenbe?

People + Organizations Mentioned

Rodale Institute

Serenbe Development

Steve Cover

The Grand Strategy

Terrapin Bright Green

Tim Beatley

Bill Browning

Biophilia at Scale

Biophilic Cities

Chattahoochee NOW

Mark “Puck” Mykleby

Nygren Placemaking

Riverlands Project

Episode Transcript

Monica Olsen (1s): Hey guys, it's Monica here. I wanted to tell you about a new podcast that I've started with my very good friend, Jennifer Walsh called Biophilic Solutions. Our last season of Serenbe Stories, Building a Biophilic Movement, was so popular that we decided to dedicate an entire podcast to it. Every other week Jennifer and I will sit down with leaders in the growing field of biophilia. We'll talk about local and global solutions to help nurture the living social and economic systems that we all need to sustain future generations. More often than not, nature has the answers. You can find Biophilic Solutions on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and follow us today so you don't miss an episode.

Monica Olsen (41s): All right, now let's get back to Serenbe Stories. Serenbe is a place where people live, work, learn, and play in celebration of life's beauty. And we're here to share the stories that connect residents and guests to each other and to nature. This is Serenbe Stories.

Monica Olsen (1m 25s): Steve, welcome back. We are diving into our 12th episode.

Steve Nygren (1m 29s): Thanks, Monica. I can't believe it's already the 12th episode. It's been fun remembering all these times.

Monica Olsen (1m 35s): I know, I know. And now here we are. We're wrapping up the season. We've kind of covered your whole story, we've had in your daughter's in, talked about where Serenbe came from, and want to talk about two more things. I want to talk a little bit about the future, but before we get into the future, I want to talk about biophilia. We've touched on it a little bit. You use the word, but I know that you use it in a very specific way with a biophilic circle. And can you tell me a little bit about why there's a biophilic circle, what it is and how you plan Serenbe around it?

Steve Nygren (2m 9s): Yeah, absolutely. We planned Serenbe to be a responsible, vital community, without really thinking about how to speak about it. They were just principles that seemed very important on how we should be responsible and how we could live a fuller life. And of course, I've mentioned that the real models where America, 80, a hundred years ago, and Europe and some of the places, so those were my models and I never had the biophilic umbrella over it. Although going back and looking at some of the recordings, Bill Browning mentioned biophilic principles in our very first charrette, which was in September of 2000.

Monica Olsen (2m 58s): And Bill is a really well-known designer that does interiors and architecture and all sorts of different things. And he brings nature, biophilia, into those spaces. And he has his own biophilic principles for, from a design perspective, which are fascinating. And we can put onto the website.

Steve Nygren (3m 18s): That is correct. And when Bill was here for our charrette, he was with the Rocky Mountain Institute and representing the Rocky Mountain Institute. And then it's since then that he has left and founded Terrapin Bright Green, and it's through Terrapin that they have created the research and the design biophilic principles.

Monica Olsen (3m 38s): Okay great. And the biophilic principles that sort of sit within this circle, I'm going to go ahead and like list them off. And we're not gonna talk about all of them here because we've really hit on them throughout all the episodes. But I do think it's interesting how they all work together.

Steve Nygren (3m 54s): Let me get one thing in there first. I did not think a lot about the biophilic principles or biophilia as such, because we were in the trenches making things happen. I did realize that we were different than what most people were doing. So I stopped going to conferences because everyone was telling me how crazy we were and tried to put their arms around me in the most nurture, nurturing way to say, this is the way you have to go. And this is the way you have to go. But there was something just from a gut feeling that that we were headed down a slightly different path than what had been traditional, whether that was how we graded the, the land or saving the land and all these things.

Steve Nygren (4m 42s): And then of course, with the recession hit. And so at that point, it was holding on, but this gave us a lot of time to think about what we were doing and because walkable communities and environmental communities were the first to step out of the recession. Suddenly more people were calling to ask about Serenbe, and there was a tendency to put Serenbe in the various cubby holes of a new urbanism or farm to table or environmental. And I realized that all of these were part of Serenbe, but none of them defined us.

Steve Nygren (5m 24s): And it was misleading to suggest that we were any one of those movements, because this was a much broader movement that encompassed various things. And at that point, I started looking at what described us and Tim Beatley, with the university of Virginia and the founder of biophilic cities, and I were on a panel and we talked more about biophilia and Steven Calvert who had been teaching this at Yale. And as I looked at it, it became very obvious.

Steve Nygren (6m 4s): Yes, we are developing in the biophilic principles. And as I started looking at all of the silos that I had to deal with both in public perception and in regulations, it was separate silos that due to regulations were causing unintended consequences to the next silo, because it had become so independent. And as I look back, people developing 80, a hundred years ago, it was much more integrated. And so you didn't have this silo approach.

Steve Nygren (6m 46s): And we understood the comprehensive effect that various things had on nature and on our individual lifestyles. And so this is where I really developed the biophilic circle, because it was all of the various silos that sort of swirled around one another, without anyone really thinking about the place that they were applying, these regulations or principles to. And the first presentation I did was for a group of national planners. And so in the presentation, I had very lightly a land plan and design to where no one could really read it and they were all straining to read it.

Steve Nygren (7m 35s): And then I talked about the various silos, and I said, the thing is we never really look at the overall design. And at that point I brought the design and planning up forward so they could read it clearly in the center of the circle. And what was amazing to me is how many planners do not walk the land or especially walk it barefooted, and you really have to connect with the land to understand it. We cannot do it from topographic maps and your computer screens, and just a decade or two ago it was from the, the, the flat drafting board and any real- you really have to get and understand the site because there's not one pattern that applies.

Steve Nygren (8m 26s): And that's part of what the biophilic principles are, is to relate to the elements and the physical place that you are.

Monica Olsen (8m 35s): Right. Well, that makes a lot of sense. And I think that goes back to what we always talk about is reconnecting to nature. It's just another opportunity to do it, but when you're building a place starting there, starting on the land to your point versus sort of the cold drafting table or a digital screen, or a map, really get out there, that's, that's how it used to be done.

Steve Nygren (9m 3s): What I discovered is one of the key threads was reconnecting period, whether it's to nature, whether it's to each other, whether it's to the natural resources, to really reconnect with understanding the biophilic sphere. Now, everyone might not think of it as the biophilic sphere, but that's really what it is when you look at the entire living system and all the components that make up the living system.

Monica Olsen (9m 33s): Yeah. It is a whole system, and I've been talking lately about ecosystems. And I really thinking about how things work together rather than just one by one, and again, to your point, unintended consequences. And I know we do the biophilic, we have the biophilic Institute, which we've touched on, and we have a leadership summit every April. And we partner with Tim Beatley with Biophilic Cities. And I had a really interesting conversation with one of the attendees last year, talking about principles versus models. And so we discussed how Serenbe is a model, and it is a model. And it's, place-based, we're here in Georgia.

Monica Olsen (10m 13s): There's certain typography, there's certain weather patterns. There are certain cultural societal aspects, as well as the land as well, you know, where you're situated. Anyway, the point being that the model, Serenbe is a model. And I know that that is very much sort of what you want. You want people to see it as a model. Steve Nygren (10m 34s):Absolutely. I continue to see it as a model for inspiration, where people can visit and take those principles elsewhere and change the places that they're living and the places they want to develop.

Monica Olsen (10m 46s): And there are principles that we have applied to this particular model, but it can be taken out. The model can't be replicated because it's in it's site-specific, but the principles can be used and taken out anywhere. And so talk about that a little bit. Steve Nygren (11m 4s):Well, absolutely and I believe it becomes very obvious to me as I sit here in my office and we're on the second floor, overlooking the streets of Serenbe. And because Serenbe has been recognized by several circles. We have planners, architects that arrive, and we have started the biophilic conference and Nygren placemaking conference to share some of these principles because I ran out of time to have a coffee with all the people that were interested. And I realized that there were also those people that just wanted to talk about it. And those people that really had the capacity to do something about it.

Steve Nygren (11m 46s): So having the conferences and setting up a consulting theorem helped sort of sift through who was legitimate about this, and I'm happy to meet with those people. And when they come, we really talk about the principles and they understand the difference between a model and the principles, but every now and then I look out of my office here over the street, and I'll see some group of people who were pretty obvious by their dress and their cameras and their tape measures that they are planners or architects or planning something and they have come to understand Serenbe. And if I have time, I'll introduce myself and I'm surprised how those folks sometimes are shy about telling me who they are.

Steve Nygren (12m 34s): And it's as though they think they're going to steal something or take something away. And they're seeing it as a model that they're trying to replicate. And that just can't work because every, every situation, the, the, the various conditions for each site, whether it's a physical condition where you are economically the, the, the social circles, you have to take all that into account, and then you can apply them to a place that would be very similar to Serenbe, but it might look totally different.

Monica Olsen (13m 6s): Right. And I think that's the beauty of it to me is that, you know, both conferences do different things, but the Nygren placemaking is so great because it really just opens up the whole book. Like it's an open book of how to build quote, Serenbe if you will, but how to build these principles. And you talk about all the details that go into it, and you're more than willing and want other people to build this way. And so it is you're to that point, it isn't about, oh, don't copy us. It's like, please do like, that's flattering, you know, please follow the principles. In fact, we'll give them to you. And we'll, you know, we'll put the circle up on the website.

Steve Nygren (13m 47s): Two conferences were intended to really share the principles as much as we could, as the Nygren placemaking is geared for actual developers and a place that developers can bring their local politicians that might be fighting them. Or sometimes we've had the local politician bring a developer that they're trying to convince them to do something more responsible. And one of the great things is we bring in the people we dealt with. So for instance, Steve Cover, who was head of planning when we brought these crazy ideas and he was head of planning for our local government Fulton county. And he's now been at, in, in Virginia and he's currently in Sarasota.

Steve Nygren (14m 28s): So they're able to hear to people that, that aren't just us, or our perspective. We bring in the, the engineers, the banker, the various folks that whom we dealt with, and they're hearing it from them and what it's like and how to better communicate some of these principles when you're talking to these various fields. The biophilia conference is really a thought leadership to where this is more a think tank discussing these principles and how they can implied sometimes in the big cities. So we're getting city planners comin. We're educators are coming and it's is to really have a changing conversation each year to really push forward a lot of these principles.

Monica Olsen (15m 12s): And I'm going to go ahead and just list them. And then I also want to talk a little bit about what we think of, or you really have put together as the result of when you do do these, right. So we've got land use, education, food systems, economic development, tax space, transportation, energy, structures, waste management, community engagement, green infrastructure, and water. But what I think is really interesting and when you see the circle are the outcomes, so do you want to talk a little bit about that? Like, why did you decide and were you inspired or why did you choose those outcomes if you can talk through those.

Steve Nygren (15m 56s): As I was starting to think about the silos that I had to deal with to develop Serenbe is how those specific silos or titles for those silos came about, because it was where I got bogged down in having to change things generally, or change general perception about how development was done. So those are not absolute titles, but those are titles for Serenbe in developing Serenbe. And it overlaps, and we can have a whole discussion about each one of them separately, but the, the outcomes is something that, that is, is, is the real issue.

Steve Nygren (16m 38s): And it's personal wellbeing is the first and while we started thinking about all these things 20 years ago, now, when we first started thinking actually broke ground 15 years ago, we realized as we were developing Serenbe, the importance of creating a place where we connected to nature and lived in nature and places where people interacted with one another, and then there were several other things that, that fit into that. But what's the result of what we now call the biophilic circle is personal wellbeing.

Steve Nygren (17m 19s): And now 15, 20 years later, actual studies are coming out that really back up what we just knew from our gut or our heart, there was a different way. And we can go into a whole thing about these studies that show that. If you have personal wellbeing and a place where people interact, you have community vitality. And this is a huge thing that's missing across America. And we find globally, when people come together as a community, and it's where you live, maybe, and there are communities that are virtual community, sometimes that have some of that, as long as you're come together, some point.

Steve Nygren (18m 2s): So it's what you define as a community. And if you have vitality within that community, that's a key. And we've found by developing through these biophilic principles in the circle that it community vitality comes now, a new result became aware to me when one of our scholars was visiting named Puck Mykleby and Puck had just retired from the Marines. And he had been called into the Pentagon to look at the grand strategy for the United States. Puck has since written the book that he was talking about, and it is The Grand Strategy.

Steve Nygren (18m 45s): And the result of this two year study in the Pentagon was that our enemy is not outside as much as, as it is interior. And if we do not deal with the sense of community, personal responsibility, and education, we will rot from the interior and Puck said, what you're doing here, Steve is literally a matter of national security. And it was through my conversations with Puck and his encouragement that we formed the Biophilic Institute. And he remains the vice chair of that group today. And he is now a national speaker.

Steve Nygren (19m 25s): And as we look at all of these issues that are in the biophilic circle, we realize that there's no boundaries, whether it is neighborhood or state or nation. And so this is really a global balance that we're talking about because how we affect the, the, the climate and the various issues, whether it's our food system, our natural resources, it really affects planet earth. And we've had a lot of ideas on how we can expand that conversation in a global way, using these principles and using Serenbe is a model because at Serenbe, you can take a two hour walk and understand the various circles that are within the sphere that we have created.

Monica Olsen (20m 16s): That's great. And we will put that up. It, it is, it's sort of everything that we've talked about really ties right back into that circle. And so I think we'll put that up and dive into it a little bit more, probably in another conversation when we get Puck in here and have that conversation. You know, the, the conference that'll happen in April is biophilia at scale and we're focusing on land and water use. So I think that'll be really interesting. I think there'll be some good green infrastructure and regenerative agriculture, especially with everything we're doing with the Rodale Institute. And I do think that as we continue to be out there and talk about sustainability and talk about wellbeing, I have a huge hope that we will begin to create a biophilic movement where people really understand bringing all of these things together.

Steve Nygren (21m 8s): I think the movement has started.

Monica Olsen (21m 9s): It has started. It's true. It has.

Steve Nygren (21m 14s): As you mentioned that, it would be fun to bring a expert or someone who's done a deep dive in each of these circles, and we can have a future discussion about how we applied it as Serenbe, and then the much larger national, global issues around that subject.

Monica Olsen (21m 29s): I love it. That's great. So, sort of leads us a bit into what's next. Cause I think you were touching on, or maybe we've talked a little bit about what's coming actually out of the ground. One of those things I want to talk about is education. And can you tell me a little bit about that, that that's still sort of a little bit of a distant neighborhood depending on funding and partners, but can you talk about that? Cause I think what you're talking about with education and biophilia ties into that neighborhood.

Steve Nygren (21m 59s): Absolutely. We, we talked about the, the principles that are in this biophilic sphere. And then we also have four pillars that we have built Serenbe around and that's art, agriculture, health, and education. And we have created physical bricks and mortar places that really facilitate these various items, whether it's in Selborne spaces for galleries and art schools, Grange is the agriculture, Mado is the, all the health providers and now education. And that is going to be our fifth community.

Steve Nygren (22m 42s): And while we have a Acton Academy here on campus, which is a Montessori based springboard, we have a great charter school just off property. So it's, it's not a matter that we're waiting for education because all these things happen in all the in community, but what can we physically do that really takes education to another level? And our fifth community has a circle. It would be a circle similar to Columbus circle, DuPont circle, any of your large circles that are in a lot of your cities. And there'll be four story buildings around this circle. And it would be a traffic circle, but the fifth community that still has not been named will have no automobiles.

Steve Nygren (23m 28s): There'll be a major garage off the circle that you can park. And from those garages, it's a tiered garage because of the hill will take you into the pedestrian streets.

Monica Olsen (23m 38s): Wow. That's surprising. I like that.

Steve Nygren (23m 40s): Yes. I mean, and we've thought about this since the very beginning. And so you look at today, 15, 20 years later, that's not such a far stretched idea where, when I initially talked about it, it was like people would roll their eyes and now you can see where that's coming. And so in this circle, there are four quadrants. The one quadrant will be a charter school on campus that will really deal with education from kindergarten through eighth grade. Then catty corner from that circle, we've envisioned a, you know, begin with a high school and it will be an international school where all of the key curriculum is taught in a foreign language, one of five foreign languages.

Steve Nygren (24m 23s): And there will be a boarding component for the high school. We'll also be adding a seventh and eighth grade level, but that will not have a boarding component with it. Then one quadrant will be for the semester away program. A few years ago, we began this first with Texas A&M who brought a group of 12 students for a 12 week period with a professor and using Serenbe as the lab and to where they could understand a lot of the biophilic principles. I do not believe there is a semester away bricks and mortar location within the United States, especially encouraging curriculum around the environment and biophilic principles.

Steve Nygren (25m 13s): Now, to be clear, this is a bricks and mortar place that any university can set up the curriculum and bring their students. We're working now with the university of Georgia and possibly other universities to create a base curriculum that then students one off students from other universities around the world could actually come. As long as their host university will accept their credits. We are going to have up to 60 research and development sites for corporations that they could come and actually have their research and development here in the midst of these visiting students who are here in the various semesters.

Steve Nygren (25m 59s): One of my fantasies is it international corporations would set up a scholarship program. So no matter where they are in what country in the world, they could offer scholarships for a semester away in environmental planning and understanding the biophilic principles that exist. This would truly create a global conversation on these issues with our future leaders. And then the fourth quadrant we'll have a corporate training center. So people who are in the corporate world can come and they can have their various conference here. Now, this is all important because what we've found is that as you're talking about these principles, it's easy to take a walk around Serenbe and understand how they all relate.

Steve Nygren (26m 48s): And you just understand the personal wellbeing, the community vitality, if you can just feel it and see it, and you start then understanding how all of these other things play into these things. And so this is why Serenbe's an ideal place for this kind of campus. And of course we have Atlanta very close and an international airport that connects us to capitals of the world. So our location is unique and what we're doing here is unique.

Monica Olsen (27m 18s): It's overwhelming. And it's so exciting. And I want to see it happen like tomorrow. And I know, you know, we need can probably the biggest thing we need to do that would be-

Steve Nygren (27m 27s): Well we're starting, we're starting, we're, we're not waiting to have the funding to make all this happen. Although I would, I would love that, that the, the, this seems so clear to me on something that we need, but we are pulling a few apartments. Now they're going to be available out of our Inn rental program. And so now we can make this available right now, adapting apartments for a minimester, if it's a four week program or a full 12 week program. So we're, we're going to start right now. And then the hopes is that soon we'll be able to fundraise for a 50 bed dorm. And that will have a classroom within it.

Steve Nygren (28m 9s): And then that will be the first piece to a full campus.

Monica Olsen (28m 13s): I love that. And we should talk about actually what's happening right now. We're finishing up a second half of Mado has been released, and those lots are selling. Mado's the health and wellness focused neighborhood. And just adjacent to that will be the fourth neighborhood that'll come online, probably spring 2021. Tell us a little bit about that, what you named it and what's sort of special about it?

Steve Nygren (28m 38s): Well, we had the opportunity to do additional land in the, in Cowetta, which is our neighboring county. We are actually on the county line and our city covers the two counties. And this is an area that in our initial charrette was not included, but it was a very obvious place that we wanted to expand to because of the beautiful landscape, the school system that is in that area. And we realized that it's an extension of Mado, which is about health and wellness. And so this will be 300 houses centered around a central park, and the park will be left very natural.

Steve Nygren (29m 24s): If you're familiar with sections of central park that have the big rocks and the old trees, and that's what will be this, and there'll be small, little manicured gardens and some ball fields and all that within the park. And the focus of this area will be play, which is really extension of health. And it's play at all ages. And on the highest spot of all of Serenbe, we're going to do a lookout tower or tree house, if you will. And that will have a zip line down to the wine bar,

Steve Nygren (29m 57s): Which will be all containers that are cut open in this very natural kind of thing. So we're going to have a lot of fun with that. And we're calling that Spella, which is carrying on the Scandinavian idea, and that is play in, in Swedish.

Monica Olsen (30m 14s): Oh, that's wonderful. And then we've also talked about a little bit about the assisted living area and how that'll integrate with the education. And so that was also sort of a really lovely part of Mado that's happening.

Steve Nygren (30m 26s): Down the one street called prom field. And I think we've talked about that origination of prom field, but the one side is where the pool is next to that is the campus for Acton Academy, which has been developed and then Little Acorns daycare that across is the land that we have set aside for senior dedicated housing. While we have a lot of seniors living here, everyone's worried about the day that they might not be independent, or that their children think they're not independent. And how can we develop something that's more responsible, less gated than many of the communities that we've become used to.

Steve Nygren (31m 10s): I was especially impressed in looking at Scandinavia at some of the principles where it's real integration of both your seniors and your children and how can we make that happen. And so we're looking at programs that are, are very integrated. We're going, because it's across the street, we're going to have the street closed at certain periods of the day. We're going to do common art rooms and reading rooms so that the seniors are coming in. And the memory care and those that are really more shut in and can't get out into the community, those are going to be windows and terraces that open over the swimming pool and the school.

Steve Nygren (31m 53s): So they can actually see all this activity and the noise doesn't bother them there, where sometimes you could put someone else there that, that, that wouldn't necessarily work. So it's going to be real integrated in, in what we're doing, what it physically looks like and how it incorporates with the entire community.

Monica Olsen (32m 13s): That's also another thing I'm looking forward to really, really amazing ideas. So as we wrap up, I want to know sort of legacy, you know, you've got three grandchildren, all your daughters are back. So I know that as the boomer generation, you felt like you have a responsibility to help be part of the solution. And we see so many young people right now, really taking a stand for what they believe in and becoming really young activists that at eight years old, or, you know, 12 years old. And it is so amazing. And so tell me your thoughts on sort of legacy with Serenbe, how that can be part of it, or just, you know, what are you, what are you looking to sort of leave for the kids before I make you cry?

Steve Nygren (32m 58s): I was thinking legacy, what do you mean legacy?

Steve Nygren (33m 2s): We're still in the middle of doing it, you know? Is this the retirement party? I really struggled with thinking about that, but

Steve Nygren (33m 18s): I think it's so exciting when you see nationally, internationally, the young people that are stepping forward in, in a way that I don't think they ever have and things are moving a lot faster. And I think of some of these young people, they had been raised in a period where national media, they are understanding how broken it is, where when the baby boomers grew up, you know, this was on fifties television, that it was an ideal world and there was nothing to worry about.

Steve Nygren (33m 59s): And then of course we hit Vietnam and a lot of things, and, and that generation was going to solve it with love. And then they found out that there was a whole other side. And so they became the greed generation. And so just the exposure was very different. So I'm hoping the baby boomers will come back to center, but what's exciting is these young people will meet the baby boomers that have decided more responsible because they have lived in a world where we're talking about all these issues and you can see why they're really feeling it literally is their future. And some of them feel desperate and hopefully we can meet them with hope and some of the solutions to make this difference.

Steve Nygren (34m 41s): And I believe Serenbe is one of those places that shows we can do it differently. Development has has a very bad name. And it's not development, it's the way we have built for development that's caused such a problem. And if we can do that more responsibly and more connected, then it shows a pattern on how this can really take us into the future in a hopeful way. And as I see the university students, as I see the children being raised here on the streets of Serenbe, including my own grandchildren, it's very interesting to see what's going to happen.

Steve Nygren (35m 22s): In fact, just last week, someone asked if we were doing a study on these children today and suggested that we study them for the next 20, 30 years and see what the effect of living in nature, living in a community that's this responsible, what effect that's going to have. So I realized that there is going to be a legacy. I believe one of the most obvious is, is line planning. They were showing the economics and the common sense of condensing all of your development within a smaller footprint and saving the greater land for a real cultural recreation, forestry, whatever it is.

Steve Nygren (36m 5s) :It just makes a real difference. And of course, that's, the city is 40,000 acres. The Chattahoochee hill country is 65,000 acres. And now we're very involved in the river lands project, which is a hundred miles of the river going through right through Atlanta and it's dealing with the land on a mile on each side. So that's 200 square miles. Now, the north 47 acres or miles, I'm sorry, the north 47 miles has really been developed. That's where Atlanta's sprawl has happened. And that's really a lot of the things that we have not appreciated our resources.

Steve Nygren (36m 47s): And so that's going to really be connecting some of the parks and the green space and the national park, but coming south our 53 miles south, just think that's 106 square miles that we can re envision the future. Now, a good section of that 30 miles is, is, is within our city of Chatt Hills. But what we've done here, I hope will influence that areas. It has a finger right into the center of Atlanta and as people developing in other cities come to see how it can be done. Then hopefully that is the legacy. As you point back to Serenbe pointing the way that this can be done.

Monica Olsen (37m 29s): Well that's wonderful. And that's a perfect way to end our episode. So thank you so so much, Steve. Our next season, we're going to dive in further, but we're going to bring in some of the experts and leaders and influencers and talk to them for the next season and find out sort of their perspective of how it happened and how it's having changed out in the greater world. So thank you.

Steve Nygren (37m 50s): Looking forward to it.

Monica Olsen (37m 55s): Thank you for listening to Serenbe Stories. We hope you enjoyed all 12 episodes. We'll be back in January with our second season and more stories. This time, featuring the people that worked with and influenced Steve over the years to help build Serenbe.

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Steve’s early career was in hospitality and in 1972, he opened the Pleasant Peasant, which became a restaurant corporation that grew to 34 restaurants in eight states by the time he departed in 1994. Steve and his wife, Marie, retired to a farm just outside Atlanta with their three daughters and six years later, he became concerned about urban sprawl invading their adopted country paradise.


The Serenbe Stories podcast provides an exclusive inside look at the thriving biophilic community, from its history and development to first-hand interviews with the residents. Listen to Serenbe Stories today on any platform where podcasts are available.