Livability, Walkability, and Environmental Justice

CCDA 09 Cincinnati

CCDA 09 Cincinnati

Flourish was at the annual Christian Community Development Association Conference (CCDA) in Cincinnati, on Saturday, October 24, where I gave a presentation called “Green-the-Hood: Livability, Walkability, and Environmental Justice.” It’s adapted from a talk I frequently give to Mission Year teams. Here’s the workshop description

What is the relationship between the built environment and a healthy and just neighborhood? New Urbanism is a movement in city planning and urban design attempting to create infrastructure(s) conducive to healthy, vibrant neighborhoods. Participants learn through a mixture of discussion and award-winning video and slides how the physical structure of the neighborhood (sidewalks, roads, buildings, greenspace) strongly shapes community-building, public health, safety, civic-mindedness, and both economic and environmental sustainability.

For those who attended, and for anyone else, here’s a taste of the web resources available for learning about the built environment and tools for making your community a healthy place (compiled by Flourish’s built environment guru, Joanna Pritchard).

Built to Last video on YouTube

Winner of The Congress for New Urbanism CNU 17 video contest. This short film explores the connection between New Urbanism and environmental issues. Created by independent filmmaker John Paget with Flourish partner First+Main Media (Drew Ward, Chris Elisara and John Paget). Chris Elisara also directs the Creation Care Study Program, and collaborated on the CCDA talk.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an extensive, reliable and user-friendly set of web pages documenting the many links between health and the built environment, including excellent fact sheets, video, research articles, statistics, etc. An authoritative, exhaustive health information source and great place to start in understanding why the “built environment” should be on your radar as a concerned Christian.

Congress for New Urbanism is a multi-disciplinary organization promoting walkable communities and opposing sprawling development. Information and reviews of the best practices and thinking on designing and building traditional neighborhoods, plus links to events organized by CNU. Approaches the topic from the architect/designer/urban planner perspective.

National partnership promoting safe bicycling and walking to and from school in the USA. Web site includes detailed info on how to set up safe routes to school in your community, shows you what folks are doing across the country, and links to broader issues related to walking and kids’ health – from physical health, educational benefits, to carbon footprint.

The American Community Garden Association is an inspiring, hardworking national organization with a website packed full of resources. Learn how to start a community garden, find out where they already exist in your area, or get hold of curricula for engaging youth in learning via gardening, plus more. Strong emphasis on minority empowerment. Their workshops are also highly recommended.

The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership brings together research and action ideas regarding transportation choices in the US today. Insightful reports on how transportation is linked to equity, livability, safety, health and the environment. Learn about federal funding and advocate for wise spending of your transportation dollars.

The National Center for Bicycling and Walking promotes active living and health through the creation of walkable, bikeable communities. In addition to tips and ideas via web, they offer workshops and trainings to help local communities of all shapes and sizes recreate themselves to become more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Get out there into your neighborhood and assess in concrete (sorry!) terms just how walkable is YOUR neighborhood! Great as a group exercise – this tool gets you thinking and motivated to make improvements. Maybe even try it as a comparative exercise – between an old, traditional neighborhood and a new, suburban area, to see the effects of postwar sprawling design in your city.

A sister site of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, the Active Living Resource Center is a hands-on resource for promoting healthy living. Many ideas and how-to’s for local communities, whether doing a community assessment, building a bike rack, getting junk food out of schools or organizing a kids’ bike safety rodeo.

A suite of tools from the The US Dept of Agriculture designed to promote healthy eating and active living, particularly for children. Includes factsheets, hands-on activity guides and ideas. Many are suited for use in schools and health departments but also useful for other types of community outreach.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a national leader in the study of how landscaping impacts mental health, from crime and safety to ADHD to community cohesiveness. This website focuses on research documenting the linkages but also suggests ways to boost your community’s health by landscaping and increasing nature contact time.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Livability, Walkability, and Environmental Justice | The Just Life
October 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm
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