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October 7, 2021

Appreciation for Ed Risse, human settlement guru

Ed Risse, who died in August, advocated more efficient use of land and natural resources.
In addition to two critically-acclaimed major land planning graduate-level textbooks, Ed Risse was the primary author of more than 200 studies, articles, essays, reports and handbooks and hundreds of Current Perspectives analyses and policy blogs.
By G. Robert “Bob” Lee

Most folks residing in Greater Warrenton/Fauquier are not aware that Ed Risse (E M Risse), one of the nation’s esteemed land planning theorists and strategists, resided in our community for more than 20 years.

Ed departed this earthly life in August at his last home in the Woodlands development, which he helped plan, in Greater Houston, Texas. Ed and his collaborator wife Linda moved to Warrenton in semi-retirement after Ed’s distinguished career as a land planner for innovative, functional, award-winning communities, including a stint as the chief planner for the Hazel/Peterson Companies. The fortunate residents of Burke Center and a number of other communities in the area that Ed referred to as the Washington-Baltimore New Urban Region are beneficiaries of his design excellence for new planned communities.

Born in California and raised in Montana, and having higher education degrees in mathematics and law, Ed began his academic and land planning careers with the Adirondack Regional Commission (now the Adirondack Park Agency). This heralded regional planning program was created in 1971 by the New York State Legislature to develop long-range public and private land use plans for the largest park in the continental United States.

Over later years, through professional land planning and consulting, continuing human settlement pattern research and education, graduate-level teaching appointments and never-ending astute observation, Ed Risse developed his theoretical foundation for a conceptual framework for rational, functional, efficient and sustainable human settlement patterns, integrating jobs/housing/services/recreation/and amenities.

He published several substantial analytical and practical land planning books, including The Shape of the Future — the Critical, Overarching Impact of Human Settlement Pattern on Citizens’ Economic, Social and Environmental Well-being, …in the 21st Century New Urban Regions.

In addition to two critically-acclaimed major land planning graduate-level textbooks, Ed Risse was the primary author of more than 200 studies, articles, essays, reports and handbooks and hundreds of “Current Perspectives” analyses and policy blogs.

After moving to his last residence in Texas, Ed continued to witness first-hand the consequences of irrational, inefficient and ultimately unsustainable human settlement patterns and the mounting devastation from our reliance on fossil fuels and the resultant exacerbated climate disasters.

Ed’s last sagacious works related to the loss of our shared finite natural resources as adverse consequential outcomes of national policies that do not rationally and appropriately allocate the true costs of human settlement locational decisions. As we reap the climate outcomes of government subsidies for dysfunctional human settlement patterns, we would be well advised to heed the good counsel of the perspicacious scholar who resided in our community.

As our dear departed friend Ed Risse exhorted, we need a better shape for our future.

The writer represents Marshall District on the Fauquier County Planning Commission. He served 15 years as Fauquier’s county administrator after holding the same position in Clarke County. He also worked as executive director of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

> Bacon’s Rebellion: RIP, Ed Risse

> Mr. Risse’s archived columns for Bacon’s Rebellion

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