How do you identify a town or city as of one America’s "best?" Outside magazine put together a list of criteria based on the elements that make it a great publication for those committed to the outdoors and recreational exercise. "To spotlight the new American dream towns," Outside states, "we started with a wish list of criteria: commitment to open space, smart solutions to sprawl and gridlock, can-do community spirit, and an active embrace of the adventurous life. We looked for green design and green-thinking mayors, thriving farmers' markets and healthy job markets."
This is not a bad list of criteria for what is, no doubt, a fairly particular audience. Among those locations picked by Outside: Salt Lake City, Utah; Littleton, New Hampshire; Charleston, South Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; and Pasadena, California. The magazine has gone beyond just choosing locales and has done a nice narrative on the assets of each location as they see it. While not a rigorous examination of "smart growth" by any stretch Outside has put together some interesting narratives that might help some when it comes time to envision how they might want their community described.