Communities that are designed so that residents can walk, bicycle or take transit to destinations provide opportunities to incorporate physical activity into daily life.
What can be done to increase the development of new mixed-use communities that facilitate active living?
What can be done to increase the development of new mixed-use communities that facilitate active living?
What approach should be adopted to reduce the barriers to and provide more opportunities for physical activities in existing neighborhoods?
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Having sidewalks is a MUST, but the sidewalks need to hook up to something too. Designated bike lanes are important as well. These things are good not only to get people out of their cars to save the air shed, but good to tackle the obesity problem. Cars should not be the only way to get around. It would be nice to have areas where transit connected too.
The idea of healthy communities goes beyond the physical and recognizes that you can’t separate individual health from community health from broader environmental health—as all are interdependent. Healthy communities seek ways to promote the good things like freedom, equality, solidarity, diversity, self-management, food sovereignty, justice, participation, access, wise ecological relationships, and so on, while dismantling social structures that perpetuate things like alienation, disenfranchisement, disempowerment, and exploitation.
At the core here is a participatory understanding that simply says everyone deserves an informed say in the decisions that affect them to the extent that they are affected, and the more a community can do this, the healthier it will be. With Winston-Salem’s increasing population, we need to start looking toward the myriad of real-world examples that are recreating more participatory communities (efforts like participatory budgeting and politics, community trusts and cooperative local economies, embracing urban permaculture, and so on).
It’s been striking me that amongst the areas of focus within the Legacy Plan that increased structural citizen participation isn't a specific focus. I know the plan calls for "active citizenship," but that's not really descriptive enough and could be done in passive and peripheral ways just as it could be done in more active and central ways. In other words (and speaking generally), focus groups and things like 'community planning days' aren't obviously the same as ongoing structured channels for citizen participation (say, built in to Winston's budgeting processes or political processes more broadly). And ‘focus group’-style inclusion often comes with a fairly constrained scope of decision making to be done and is often performed around specific projects or at specific times as opposed to being an ongoing mode of how decisions are made, and doesn't adequately appreciate participatory decision-making for the sake of participatory decision-making (how democracy is supposed to look).
For the advantages participatory processes have (building accountability/transparency, efficiency, democracy, equity, community, and education), it makes increasingly more sense to begin interweaving participatory processes into how Winston works (and truthfully makes even more sense as our budgets are hurting and population rising -- old non-participatory ways of doing things are seeming increasingly archaic).
Ideally (at least in my mind) incorporating something like an exploratory team would be a great start. Surprisingly, Greensboro is already on the verge of doing this. They had speakers earlier this spring right after their big city council budget meeting who were speaking on participatory municipal budgeting. One was from ParticipatoryBudgeting.org (Josh Lerner; co-director) and the other, Maria Hadden, was a resident/participant of Chicago's 49th Ward participatory budgeting process. This is the first (and currently only I believe) par budgeting process in the country (although about 1,200 exist throughout cities worldwide and some places, like the UK, are increasingly mandating them in town budgeting operations). I won't get into all of the details now, but the Fund for Democratic Communities in Greensboro put together the event and is working toward setting up and exploratory committee to see what would make the most sense for Greensboro (I'm pretty sure I was the only one from Winston at the talk).
So I just wanted to lay that out there. Perhaps Legacy wouldn't be the best place to house an exploratory project, but as a master development plan, it seems fairly perfect. I've been researching participatory economies, budgeting, and politics for the most part of the past few years, so I'd definitely be up for chatting more and brainstorming with anyone interested.
Developing shared use agreements with the school systems for community members to use gyms, tracks, and equipment of schools is a win-win for everyone and is a better use of public tax dollars. School buildings and playgrounds go unused in the evenings and weekends. A minimal investment, and actually SHARING limited resources would be a blessing for neighborhoods and should be a requirement since public monies are involved.
Putting in more sidewalks and bike facilities can connect people to resources. These are basic needs for every healthy community. There is also a need to have healthy food options at the neighborhood level both in resaurants and cornerstores/supermarkets.
You may need to bring in other communities that are a little further ahead then WS and get them to speak about the benefits. Also creating incentives for this kind of development to some of the stakeholders such as builders, maybe giving low cost loans to attract them. Also, existing neighborhoods need street lights and very wide sidewalks that could accommodate bikes and pedestrians. Create communities where residents have all the resources they need within walking / biking distance - but get space off road for bikes. Cars run over cyclists in this country and only get a wrist slap. For existing neighborhoods, especially distressed ones, you will need beatification and shared use agreements with schools for communities to share play grounds and tracks. These are paid for with tax dollars and the entire community should be able to benefit. Find a way to work with these schools to be a resource for active living in each community. That will mean serious collaboration, but lots of other communities are already doing this and have really increased physical activity in their communities. This is a win-win situation, but requires a certain process that needs investigation. Monies will become more scarce, so sharing becomes more important. There are resources to help with legal and liability issues from such a partnership from "Public Health Law and Policy" and webinars that teach how this can be done.
See the Clemmons 2010 Comprehensive Plan for well thought out answers to this important question. The community worked hard on the Plan and it can serve as a model for the rest of the County.
Here is a link to a nice article on the subject of Complete Communities. A lot can be done to get ready for another 120,000 people here.
Zoning and educating the public (and land owners) about the importance of having both single family and multi-unit housing in close proximity to retail and parks. I’m thinking of the community opposition to apartments being developed near the YWCA. Now you have some limited new housing (Marshal street) and a great trail , and the Y, but probably not enough people around to make it worthwhile for more retail. Also, plan the bus system to stop in these developments (maybe bus shelters), and SIDEWALKS on both sides of the street. There are too many places where the bus stops but no sidewalk is present.
Opens space & adequate food & service stores
Downtown we will need schools, markets, & retail services, parks & other quality of life aspects.
You will not draw mixed use downtown without schools & food sources, especially.
East transit for people downtown as alternatives to cars.
Go into communities to involve people, rather than downtown central location like the Anderson Center
I am overseeing 3 community gardens, vegetables specifically. The City should invest in community gardens for teens. I did this work in Boston, MA. It was successful. The youth learned a lot and even take it to the level of establishing entrepreneur opportunities for gardens. Establish more community gardens!!!
Incorporate community gardens into parks, incent grocery stores & markets as part of development.
Provide support services to community gardens such as composting facility connected to gardens, cisterns/water provided.
Add sidewalks & bike paths.
Require new development to include grocery & green space.
Build more sidewalks & bike paths.
Building communities that attract diverse population - mixed income & ethnicity
Change zoning to make it preferable to develop mixed use developments instead of large home/large yard areas with no services.
Put requirements on developers - such as requirements for neighborhood parks & sidewalks or if a developer proposes a neighborhood of a certain size, require the addition of certain amenities (bank, school, grocery store, etc.)
Shared open space
Connectivity to amenities, esp. for elderly and young to require this kind of connectivity where applicable (Whitaker property, for ex.)
Sidewalks along busier streets
Gov't & CDC cooperation
Ordinance for required amt. of greenspace in new development projects
It starts with the young - facilities walking to school again!
Safe pedestrian crossings of major streets are critical.
Retrofit key intersections citywide to include safe pedestrian & biking passage.
Have community events
Provide incentives to target markets (seniors, empty-nesters, young professionals)
Make them FIRST nice places for people to live. No glare, bright lights, more small restaurants, small shops, community meeting facilities & parks
Yes, work more closely with property managers to change existing ownerships and developments in eastern Forsyth to upgrade and or improve developments and business opportunities to all of the East Winston area, especially around Winston Lake and Winston-Salem State University.
Strict zoning as to style, size, setback, etc of bldg. Attention to parking area, landscaping and ped connectivity
Improve air and water quality through provision of stream buffers and biologically functional green spaces. Ancillary and aesthetic benefits will follow.
"[I]f in a city we had six vacant lots available to the youngsters of a certain neighborhood for playing ball, it might be "development" to build houses on the first, and the second, and the third, and the fourth, and even the fifth, but when we build houses on the last one, we forget what houses are for. The sixth house would not be development at all, but rather it would be mere short-sighted stupidity. "Development" is like Shakespeare's virtue, "which grown into a pleurisy, dies of its own too-much." - Aldo Leopold, from A Plea for Wilderness Hunting Grounds, 1925
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