QUALITY OF LIFE -
BALANCING NATURE & THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
As a follow up to January's newsletter, where we discussed the mental health and quality of life benefits of nature and biophilic design, this month, we're diving deeper into ways that communities can preserve and promote nature within urban settings, where development is taking off across the county and especially within the Phoenix metro area. We also share some special livability resources from the AARP.
Photo - Keep Phoenix Beautiful
Many of you will remember than exactly a year ago, in February 2017, a thriving 15-acre urban garden at Central Avenue and Indian School Road. called the PHX Renews site was closed after a dispute between a development company and the federal government. Although some of the urban farmers were able to start over at a smaller site near 19th avenue and Pierson, many of the plots' cultivators haven't had an opportunity to rebuild and regrow after their forced abrupt departure from the garden.
Shortly thereafter, a separate, but related, issue arose from local advocates about the need to address Phoenix's shrinking urban forest, which was pulling the City farther away from, instead of closer to, its goal of 25% tree shade canopy by 2030.
Rendering - Greenbelt Hospitality team
While the former PHX Renews site still remains vacant until this day, there are some new opportunities arising for promoting urban agriculture and the experience of nature within the vicinity of central Phoenix. Local First Arizona tells us here about a public-private partnership to establish The Farm at Los Olivos, a future 4-acre community garden on City of Phoenix park land. One of the Farm's Founders, Aric Mei, has been quoted saying: “We’re not building apartments. We’re not building more density, we’re creating something that the neighbors are going to use, and it’s walkable. And we would argue that the use of a park is, by definition, building a healthy community and the benefits would far outweigh any slight uptick in a traffic count on a street.”
The AALC is excited to see how this project unfolds. Opportunities to engage include:
Open House: February 27th (today) 3-7 pm @ Devonshire Senior Center 2802 E. Devonshire Ave.
Final Parks Board Vote: March 22nd 5 pm @ 200 W. Jefferson
TOOLS YOU NEED:
The AARP Livability Index:
Great Neighborhoods for All Ages
AARP, the American Association of Retired People is an organization that has assumed a leadership role in identifying and describing what design elements of the physical environment contribute to healthy communities. AARP has partnered with a number of organizations such as the American Planning Association; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and the American Public Health Association. One of their premier programs is the Livability Index.
The Livability Index is a signature initiative of the Public Policy Institute to measure the quality of life in American communities across multiple dimensions: housing, transportation, neighborhood characteristics, environment, health, opportunity, and civic and social engagement. An interactive, easily navigated website, the Livability Index allows users to compare communities, adjust scores based on personal preferences and learn how to take action to make their own communities move livable.
What Does the Livability Index Do?
The Livability Index helps users better understand their communities and make decisions about future needs. The index can be used in several ways. Here are some examples:
A county executive wants to know how to meet the housing needs of older adults. She can see how her community performs for each of the housing metrics relative to the national average and learn about policy and programmatic interventions that could address areas of concern.
The director of a nonprofit organization wants to show the need for transportation services in the community. He can view data on transit service available to various neighborhoods in the community and connect to resources explaining how transit is typically funded.
A health official is interested in exploring how the built environment may influence health. She can see the relative rates of obesity and smoking on a map and then check whether each neighborhood in a county has access to grocery stores and farmers’ markets.
Other Tools from the AARP:
Is This a Good Place to Live? Measuring Community Quality of Life for All Ages
This report explores the meaning of livability, examines previous efforts to evaluate the livability of communities and describes lessons learned by PPI as part of its work to measure community livability.
What is Livable? Community Preferences of Older Adults
This report highlights findings from an AARP PPI survey of more than 4,500 adults age 50 and older to understand general preferences for community livability and how those preferences differ within the diverse population of older adults, including age, income, physical ability, driver status, race and ethnicity, and other factors.
What Is a Livable Community, and How Do We Measure One?
Rodney Harrell, Ph.D., director of the AARP Public Policy Institute's livability initiative, discusses the "What is Livable?" survey results.
AARP Highlights Transformations in
All Types of Communities
Rural and Local Roads: Getting People Across a Bridge (Underhill Flats, Vermont); Honoring the Past, "Placemaking" for the Future (Clarksdale, Mississippi); A Better Intersection for Beachgoers (Kailua, Hawaii); Traffic Calming a Mixed-Use Street (Burlington, Vermont)
Small-Town Main Streets: Inspiring Redevelopment (Kingston, Tennessee); Making Downtown a Destination (Avondale Estates, Georgia); Revitalizing Main Street (Batesville, Arkansas)
Suburban Streets and Commercial Strips: Improving Community Access (Winter Garden, Florida); Connecting a Neighborhood and its Surroundings (Forth Worth, Texas); Putting Crosswalks Where People Need Them (Detroit, Michigan); Making Parking More Productive (Tupelo, Mississippi); Repairing a Deadly Street (Atlantic City, New Jersey); Celebrating an Arts Heritage (Exmore, Virginia)
Urban Streets and Downtowns: Improving a Complex Intersection (Dallas, Texas); Redesigning a Downtown Street (Augusta, Georgia); Making a Riverwalk Approach More Walkable (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Back Streets and Underused Spaces: Creating a Festival Street (Birmingham, Alabama); Bringing an Alley to Life (Brownsville, Texas); Connecting the Community to a Key Asset (York, Pennsylvania); Creating a Trail for Recreation and Evacuation (Orange Beach, California)
A Message from our Friends at the
National Public Health Week (April 2-8, 2018) is an opportunity to celebrate the work and contributions of public health workers. As we continue our work toward creating the healthiest nation in one generation, we’ve selected “Healthiest Nation 2030: Changing Our Future Together” as the NPHW theme. The American Public Health Association will take the lead in coordinating activities, but we need your help, especially on the local level.
American Public Health Association
EVENTS & CONFERENCES
10-Minute Walk Planning Grants
Apply by March 9.
The National Recreation and Park Association offers grants and technical assistance to support planning efforts that increase local access to high-quality urban parks. In the first round of grants, 12 or 13 cities will receive $40,000 each to work with NRPA and national partners to develop their best, measurable contributions to NRPA's 10-Minute Walk Campaign.
2018 Environmental Education Local Grant Program
Proposals due March 15, 2018
Up to $3 million in funding for locally-focused environmental education grants is now available. EPA expects to award three to four grants in each of EPA's ten Regions, for no less than $50,000 and no more than $100,000 each, for a total of 30-35 grants nationwide. EPA intends to provide financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques, that will serve to increase environmental and conservation literacy and encourage behavior that will benefit the environment.
Live Well Arizona Mini-Grants
$1,000 - $15,000
Rolling Application Process through June 30, 2018 -
Or until all funds are committed