Happy Holidays from all of us at the AALC.
Thank you for another year of working toward more livable communities in Arizona. As always, we have another monthly newsletter chock full of national and local resources. Enjoy.
THE ROLE OF DESIGN PROFESSIONALS
IN BUILDING HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES
In this month's newsletter, we focus on the role of design professionals in creating physical environments that directly impact and have the potential to build healthy communities. In particular, we discuss two professions that have a significant impact on creating healthy communities and healthy places within those communities: planners and landscape architects.
Before reading on - Please take a few minutes to take the Maricopa Association of Government's Active Transportation Plan Visual Preference Survey. This survey is a fun and interactive way of providing MAG with feedback to inform the devepment of our regon's active transportation plan.
Plan4Health - A Collaboration of the
Planning & Public Health Professionals
If you've been with the AALC for a while, you know that we're passionate about planning. Planners are key professionals involved in the design of the physical environment. Planners are involved in the shaping of public policy relating to how our communities develop. They are also responsible for community regulations that respond to public policy and guide the long-term development of cities, towns and rural areas. All of these aspects show that planners, through meaningful partnerships, have the potential to build healthier communities.
Over the past few years, the American Planning Association (APA) has collaborated with the American Public Health Association (APHA) to focus on how the planning profession can work closely with Public Health professionals. This program is called Plan4Health.
Why Planning and Public Health?
Many may not realize that planning in the United States originated with a public health purpose. According to Plan4Health, planning and public health professions were initially united by a focus on urban reform and a goal to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease. As planning diverged from its common roots with public health, the profession’s attention moved to managing land use, physical development, and supporting infrastructure.
In contrast, public health professionals worked to continue addressing infectious diseases, and then more recently, chronic diseases. These separate missions have led to a siloed approach to influencing the social determinants that significantly impact individual and population health. Plan4Health works to break these silos and to reconnect planning and public health through a shared vision of healthy places, making the healthy choice easier.
What is Plan4Health?
Plan4Health connects communities across the country, funding work at the intersection of planning and public health. Anchored by members of the American Planning Association (APA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA), Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.
Coalitions work with communities to increase access to healthy food or increase opportunities for active living where residents live, work, and play. The Plan4Health project aims to build local capacity to address population health goals and promote the inclusion of health in non-traditional sectors.
Coalitions are made up of APA chapters, APHA affiliates, local non-profits, schools, parks and recreation departments, universities – and more. These coalitions are working to launch and to strengthen strategies for healthy planning. The investments that APA and APHA have made in members across the country will potentially impact millions of residents through policy, systems, and environmental improvements.
Here in Arizona
Here in Arizona, Plan4HEalth directly supports The Bike Ajo coalition - which is working to improve access to opportunities for physical activity by creating a sustainable cycling hub that provides education on bicycle safety for recreation and transportation; trains local community members on bicycle repair; provides resources for bicycle repair and maintenance; certifies community members as League-Certified Cycling Instructors; and builds health-based partnerships with local Ajo organizations.
Public Health and Landscape Architecture -
Creating Healthy Places
According to Public Health and Landscape - Creating Healthy Places, a position statement put together by Landscape Institute, architecture professionals have expertise that can help positively respond to the public health agenda. The landscape architecture profession in particular, plans, designs and manages land resource in order to secure the best possible outcomes for people, the environment and the economy.
Community landscapes are the result of a complex set of natural and man-made factors, which contribute to both their aesthetic and functional qualities. The profession is rooted in an understanding of how these complex relationships work.
Leadership in Creating Healthy Communities
Today, landscape architecture professionals are using their skills to achieve positive outcomes for people’s health and wellbeing at all scales and all stages of development. By designing for the community, landscape architects understand how the aesthetic and functional qualities of a place can enhance quality of life. In fact, Landscape professionals:
- Understand the natural and cultural elements that define an area’s special character and can integrate these into practical, resilient and deliverable design proposals.
- Work to incorporate green infrastructure into housing, schools, public facilities & commercial projects to encourage physical activity, while sustainable policies for active travel – walking and cycling – are helping to create well-connected, accessible landscapes.
- Engage with local communities and key partners to reveal their aspirations and concerns, and work to establish a shared vision for a place.
- Collaborate with other professionals in fields such as housing, to ensure that external environments are accessible, attractive and welcoming. This helps to foster a sense of community spirit by encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to interact.
- Design green spaces for the benefit of people suffering from physical and mental illness in order to support the healing process and provide an improved quality of life.
Here in Arizona
AALC Member Tiffany Halperin runs the The Urban Culture Design Project based in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The project includes landscape architects and urban designers that love urban life, town cores, and are dedicated to community building on scales that range from local to regional and neighborhood to city. They design for people and believe in the role and process a community’s culture plays in informing the design of urban places. Simply, we recognize the role of the built environment in effecting positive change in our urban communities.
RELATED RESOURCES FROM OTHER PLACES
Seattle's New Mobility Program and Playbook
The way Seattlites move is changing rapidly. They have so many options to get around the city and the Puget Sound region. They can walk or bike for shorter distances. They can get on a bus, ferry, Sounder train, Link Light Rail, and the Seattle Streetcar. They can drive their cars. They can hail a ride, reserve a car share vehicle, or join a carpool on the fly. Soon, there will be new, private dock-less bike share services, and their streets will see automated vehicles in the not too distant future.
Mobile apps help folks find the best driving route or catch the right bus or bike the least hilly route. Mobile payment systems allow folks to book any service and have it automatically charged to their credit cards or bank accounts.
New mobility are those emerging elements of the transportation system that are enabled by digital technology, shared, driven by real-time data, and often providing curb-to-curb transportation. It allows Seattleites to treat urban transportation as a customizable, on-demand service. They can book and pay for different transportation services as they go, based on what they need.
“Cities are being rapidly reshaped by emerging mobility technologies, but Seattle’s new playbook demonstrates their commitment to getting ahead of that curve by taking proactive, holistic steps to ensure that this transformation helps them achieve their economic, safety and environmental goals while increasing access and opportunity for all of their residents. Given the pace and momentum of change in urban transportation, Seattle's flexible, outcome-oriented approach will be critical to maximizing the potential of these technologies and becoming a city full of opportunity for decades to come.”
- Russ Brooks, Transportation for America
Indy Walkways – More Than a Pedestrian Plan
Like many Midwestern cities, Indianapolis was designed and developed with automobiles as the primary mode of transportation—and, also like many cities, residents have become increasingly physically inactive and are experiencing high rates of chronic disease.
According to the 2017 County Health Rankings, Marion County ranked 92 out of 92 Indiana counties in health factors and 79 out of 92 in health outcomes. The 2017 American Fitness Index placed Indianapolis 48 out of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States based on various measures of health, community resources, and policies that support physical activity.
WalkWays is a Plan4Health initiative to make Indianapolis more walkable and to get more people walking. The City of Indianapolis, Marion County Public Health Department, and Health by Design partners have developed their community’s first pedestrian plan, with a long-term vision for a more walkable and healthy Indianapolis. The plan establishes clear, equitable, data-driven priorities for future investments in walking projects and programs, making our community safer and more accessible for all those who walk or roll to get where they need to go.
Curb Appeal - Curbside Management
Strategies for Improving Transit Reliability
Cities now have the design tools they need to make transit more reliable, but the politics of parking too often stymie the best projects. The results of twentieth-century “first-come-first-served” parking are frustrating and wasteful: transit riders and drivers are delayed by double parking, with an especially large impact on the same vibrant, walkable streets where some of the highest bus and rail ridership is found. Without space for loading, delivery workers and for hire vehicles are both inconvenienced and cause delays to others; people bicycling and walking are put in danger by blocked bike lanes and bad visibility; and drivers cruise for long distances to find parking. Yet these practices have been tolerated for decades, in part because of the politically charged nature of "removing parking spaces" without addressing the underlying mismatch between supply and demand. This paper provides examples of how cities have successfully changed curb use to support transit.
Additional National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Publications available here.
EVENTS & CONFERENCES