Neighborhood

A retiree’s guide to hosting on Airbnb

According to Airbnb, the number of experiences hosted by people 60 years and older has grown by nearly 1,100 percent over the past year. In fact, the United States tops Airbnb’s list of countries with the most hosts in that age group. Retiring (and aging as a whole) is sometimes associated with loneliness and withdrawal Read the rest here:   https://www.bankrate.com/retirement/retiree-guide-to-hosting-airbnb/

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Reconnect Kids and Families with Nature

November 19, 2015 By Brian E. Clark When author Richard Louv was growing up on the outskirts of Kansas City in the 1950s and early 1960s, he spent his free time organizing pick-up games in neighbors’ yards and in parks, scrambling around in the woods near his home — collecting snakes, sometimes poisonous ones — and building forts and treehouses. He was also something of a rebel, too, pulling up surveyors’ stakes of subdivisions proposed for his beloved woods. And when he tried to sit down and watch TV, his parents told him, in an oft-repeated phrase that echoes in the brains of most baby boomers, “Go outside and play!” Fast forward three-plus decades. Louv, then a syndicated columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune, began to wonder where all the kids had gone. Turns out, he said, that they were inside playing early versions of computer games. And many parents, worried by stories about the relative handful of terrible crimes that were repeated over and over again on cable TV, were happy to keep them at home and “safe,” Louv said in a recent interview. “Fear of crime was at the top of the list as a culprit, and traffic,” said Louv, who coined the term “nature deficit.” He is the author of “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle.” His much-lauded writings have spawned efforts in this country and around the globe to reconnect children and families with the outdoors. “High crime rates are real in some neighborhoods, but not most,” he said. “Though there has been a recent uptick, the actual rate of violent crime has been declining for the past 35 years. But we pulled indoors.” The results for the health of children raised under what he calls “protective childhood arrest” have not been good. So while there is some risk of falling out of trees when kids play outdoors — which remains part of its attraction, Louv mused — staying inside to watch TV or play often violent computer games has given us a generation of inactive kids. The result has been rising rates of childhood obesity with all the problems of diabetes and heart disease that come even during childhood or later. So Louv railed against poorly designed neighborhoods with few parks, fear of boogeymen and seductive technology. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study, he said American kids now spend a whopping 54 hours a week plugged into some kind of electronic medium. Their parents are probably as bad or worse, he said, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for other activities. “Not only are there risks to kids’ health by keeping them inside, but it also hurts their ability to socialize outside the home,” he said. “Ultimately, I believe, there is even a risk to democracy. In order to care about nature, the environment and your neighbors, you need to step outdoors. Too often, people just get in their cars in their garages and drive off down the street, never even getting to know who lives next to them.” Even team sports have come in for criticism by Louv, who notes that the greatest increase in childhood obesity occurred during the same two decades as the largest increase in organized sports for children in our history. While that doesn’t mean that organized sports are causing obesity, he said exercising for only a few hours isn’t helping to the extent that we think it is. Many Americans (Europeans, Chinese and Brazilians, too) have gotten the message and created programs to get kids outside again. They have names like “Every Child Outdoors” in Tennessee and “Taking Children Outdoors” in Texas. Even developers have gotten on the bandwagon, he said, creating new neighborhoods with open spaces, hiking trails and nature centers that many families — as well as baby boomers — find more attractive than subdivisions built around golf courses. The author said he was shocked, shocked, when he was warmly received at his first builders’ conference. Nancy Dorman, who runs the Every Child Outdoors coalition in Tennessee, said the Volunteer State’s effort was launched within several years after Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods” was published. “He came out to Nashville to do a presentation and as a result, we organized a broad coalition of organizations that were interested in this issue,” she said. “I’m an environmental educator and a Tennessee State Parks person, but our goal is to get people together from a wide variety of constituency areas, including health, education and even the built environment, to talk about issues and see what barriers we can remove to get kids into the outdoors.” She said they developed the Tennessee Environmental Literacy Plan. For its part, her agency created a statewide Junior Ranger program that is partially funded by a Project Diabetes grant from the Tennessee Health Department. State parks offer Junior Ranger camps and other programs, including after-school activities at elementary schools, she said. “We also have a middle school and family running program that is kind of a park-based running club to encourage families and kids to come out to the state parks and run,” she said. “We have cross-country running events several times a year. And we do seasonal summer programs for families because kids don’t function in a vacuum. We want to encourage families and kids to get out and enjoy nature and the outdoors.” In Texas, Jennifer Bristol said that the state’s Children in Nature program started about five years ago and has grown into a network of about 300 government agencies, nonprofits, businesses and individuals whose goal is to get kids and families outdoors. It was sparked, in part, by surveys that said that typical park users in Texas were in their 40s. “Our tag line is that kids and families who spend time outdoors are happier, healthier and smarter,” said Bristol, who coordinates the program. “This all grew out of the movement Richard Louv started and took off when the project was endorsed by our state Legislature. They recognized that this is important for our kids. “About 80 of the legislators said ‘We want to do something about this, so go for it!’ So we work with schools, healthcare providers and others, helping families who want to get out in nature. We also work with educators to help them

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Millennials’ Transportation and Housing Choices Will Shape the Nation

November 19, 2015 By Joan Mooney Businesses across America are watching the millennial market closely. They should: The 87 million millennials eclipse even the 76 million baby boomers in their numbers. Because they came of age during the Great Recession and many are saddled with enormous college debt, they have not yet made their full market force known. But millennials have already exerted their influence in many ways. Their transportation preferences could point to a long-term shift in the way Americans commute to work, do errands and socialize. And their mode of travel is already influencing their choice of where to live. The stereotype is that millennials are living in their parents’ basement because they’re still paying off college loans and can’t get a professional job. They travel by bus and bicycle and on foot because they can’t afford a car and don’t like to drive anyway. Of course it’s not so simple. A new Community and Transportation Preferences Survey covering the 50 largest metro areas teases out the nuances of travel and housing preferences of millennials and other groups. The survey, by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) and Portland State University, sampled 3,000 adults. Use transit more than other groups The study found that millennials (defined here as those born after 1980) use transit much more than older groups. They are “much more likely than other groups to place a high priority on providing convenient alternatives to driving, expanding public transportation and developing communities where more people don’t have to drive long distances,” the study says. Millennials are much more likely to have used transit in the past 30 days than any other group. Forty percent did so, compared with just 28 percent for the next highest group, Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980). But it’s their least favorite way of getting around, with only 44 percent saying they like transit. It turns out millennials do like driving — 71 percent said so — but they like it less than any other group. A whopping 83 percent of the “silent” generation — born before 1946 — said they like driving. Millennials also like bicycling much more than those born after 1946. (Their liking of bicycling is even with that of Generation X.) Millennials are the most likely to bicycle for transportation, not just exercise. All groups said they like walking, including 83 percent of millennials. But as with bicycling, millennials and Generation X stand out in their preference to walk for transportation. That matches their preference for walkable communities, as noted by many REALTORS® and others who study millennials. Mackenzie Davis Luke is a REALTOR® in Athens, Ga., a town of 120,000 that is home to the University of Georgia. There’s little public transportation, and it’s not a very bicycle-friendly community, Luke said. “Walkable areas for us are not near transit,” she said. “They’re walkable to local restaurants and bars. People like having that sense of community.” A millennial herself, Luke has found that her generation likes to live closer to town, even if it’s not a big city. Luke’s experience matches what Joseph Kane, researcher for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, found in the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. “Some markets have a big emphasis on walking and bicycling,” Kane said. “In Columbia, S.C., almost one-quarter of 16- to 24-year-olds walk or bike to work.” Younger workers are leading that trend. But the NAR study found that 19 percent of millennials walk mainly to save money, so that preference could change as their income rises. According to the NAR survey, 26 percent of millennials used a bike in the last 30 days — similar to the 25 percent of all survey respondents. However, millennials were more likely to use a bike for transportation purposes rather than just for recreation. The top five reasons why people don’t bike more: they need a vehicle for work, school or other reasons; the places they need to go are too far to bike; they don’t have a bike; they don’t feel safe in traffic, and there are too few bike lanes or trails. Prefer walkable neighborhoods The NAR survey also looked at housing preferences and neighborhood design. Millennials are more interested in being within easy walking distance of places and having public transit nearby. In particular, 51 percent of millennials want to live within a short commute to work, and 40 percent want easy access to the highway. And, both millennials and Gen X are more interested in sidewalks and bike lanes and paths. But millennials have hardly abandoned cars. Even the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found in its survey of millennials’ transportation preferences that “driving a car is their number one preference,” said Darnell Grisby, APTA director of policy development and research. APTA also found that a variety of transportation options makes a community particularly attractive to millennials. The NAR survey found a similar preference — millennials put more importance on living within an easy walk of places and having public transportation nearby. Overall, they prefer an attached home (apartment or townhouse) where they have an easy walk to shops and restaurants and a shorter commute. Still, most millennials, like other age groups, live in detached, single family homes. Most of those homes have sidewalks available, but fewer have lots of places to walk to, such as shops, cafes and restaurants. The NAR survey also found that people of all ages with places to walk to are more satisfied with the quality of life in their community. As Athens, Ga., REALTOR® Luke found, walkability is not found only in cities. That’s just as well, because in many cities, millennials just starting their careers are being priced out of city housing. APTA’s Grisby sees promise in some of the older inner ring suburbs that have seen some wear but are near transit and offer yards that millennials may want as they start families. Some of those areas have seen recent investment by developers but are still less expensive than housing in the city or more fashionable suburbs. “The distinction between urban and suburban is increasingly not very important,” as long as the area is walkable to destinations, said Grisby. Will millennials grow out of their transportation preferences? How are millennials’ preferences in transportation and housing likely to change as

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Food Hubs: Connecting Farmers with Consumers

November 19, 2015 By Tracey C. Velt When most people think of locally sourced, healthy, organic food, they think of young, urban professionals and trendy restaurants or expensive grocery stores. Think again. Regional food hubs are making this type of food — organic and non-organic — available to everyone by connecting local farmers to eaters through farmers’ markets, grocery stores and more. Defined by the USDA, a food hub is as an organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail and institutional demand. There are about 350 food hubs in the United States, and that number is rising. “Food hubs solve the problem that a lot of businesses, retailers and institutions have,” says Jeff Farbman, senior program associate of Wallace Center at Winrock International and the National Good Food Network (link is external). “There is increasing demand for healthy, local food, but many of the small to mid-sized farmers don’t have the capacity to organize deliveries to a bunch of different companies. Food hubs are the third part that levels out the process for the buyer and seller.” The National Good Food Network (NGFN) started work “helping to get the Farmers Market Coalition up and running. That part is booming now,” says Farbman. “But, that’s not where most people get their food. They get it from restaurants, supermarkets, schools, hospitals, colleges and other institutions, so that’s the focus of the NGFN, aggregating, distributing and marketing the local, value-based food.” According to Nick Mabe, food hub coordinator for the Iowa Food Hub in West Union, Iowa, “It’s easy to sell grain, corn, soybeans and hogs on the commodities market. But, it’s more difficult to have a mid-sized operation in dairy, produce or custom meats. The Iowa Food Hub helps to increase food access and help smaller beginning and established farmers run a sustainable business,” he says. Economic I​mpact More than just serving as a connection between farms and eaters, food hubs “provide opportunities for more local food procurement at a larger scale, which can create jobs, generate business taxes, and increase earnings throughout the region as production increases locally,” according to the USDA’s Regional Food Hub Resource Guide (link is external). Various studies have examined the local economic impacts of shifting food purchases to local food. A study conducted in Northeast Ohio found that if the 16-county Northeast Ohio Region were to meet 25 percent of its need for food with local production, it would result in 27,664 new jobs, providing jobs for 1 in 8 unemployed residents, as well as increase annual regional output by $4.2 billion and increase state and local tax collections by $126 million. And, according to the USDA guide, “food hubs demonstrate innovative business models that can be financially viable and also make a difference in their respective communities. Economically, they are showing impressive sales performance and helping to retain and create new jobs in the food and agricultural sectors. Socially, food hubs are providing significant production-related, marketing, and enterprise development support to new and existing producers in an effort to build the next generation of farmers and ranchers. In addition, many food hubs make a concerted effort to expand their market reach into underserved areas where there is lack of healthy, fresh food.” No one knows that better than Jesse Rye, co-executive director of Farm Fresh Rhode Island in Pawtucket, R.I. “Farm Fresh started 10 years ago, born from a student project at Brown University,” he says. Now, Farm Fresh’s Market Mobile Program handles aggregation and distribution for over 60 farms and producers and connects them with more than 200 consumers every week. “Last year, we moved about $2.1 million worth of food on behalf of farmers.” The group also raises funds and secured a grant that incentivizes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) users so they can buy fruit and vegetables at the local market. “SNAP users get an additional $2 on top of every $5 they spend. That means lower income consumers get the benefits of fresh produce, and the community gets more money invested into the local economy and small, local business rather than the national chain stories,” says Rye. In addition, Farm Fresh has a culinary education apprenticeship program, called Harvest Kitchen, where local, at-risk youth in the criminal justice system can learn culinary and life skills. “They create product lines, including applesauce, pickled products, frozen soups and more,” says Rye. The products are sold at the local farmers’ market and are available wholesale. For the Iowa Food Hub, farmers are able to increase production because they are accessing new, larger markets without the cost burden of marketing and distribution. “On the consumer side, we’re focused on increasing the consumption of local food in underserved communities. That is done by getting the food to schools in poorer areas,” says Mabe. Unlike many other food hubs, the Iowa Food Hub is located in a rural area of the state. West Union has a population of about 3,000. “We’re bringing jobs and opportunities back into the rural downtowns.” Mabe finds that much of the local food is exported to large, urban areas; however, one goal of the Iowa Food Hub is to increase the rural sales in Northeast Iowa. “In theory, we can sell everything here, but we need to create the systems and interest to get to that point.” Caroline Heine, co-founder and project director of Seed Capital KY in Louisville, Ky., agrees. She’s working on getting the West Louisville FoodPort up and running. “We’re trying to increase the volume of distribution. Research published in 2012 identified a significant demand in Jefferson County for local food. What the West Louisville FoodPort can do is complement the other efforts already underway, such as farmers’ markets and locally-sourced food restaurants. We have significant unmet demand,” she says. “We’re a public-private partnership. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if not for the leadership of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.” For Farm Fresh Rhode Island, its winter farmers’ market brings in 2,000 to 3,000 people every week between November and May. “It’s the biggest in New England and those visitors bring money into our local economy,” says Rye. Revitalizing Blighted Areas Heine sees food hubs as a way to revitalize communities in not just

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Schools Savoring the Effects of Healthier Food

November 19, 2015 By G.M. Filisko It was the underappreciated radish’s turn to be vegetable of the month at the Broward County public schools, and Darlene Moppert proudly tells the story of a teacher calling her to pass on a delicious nugget of information. “One of the activities was for students to describe their feelings when they ate the radish,” recalls the program manager of nutrition education and training at the approximately 230 Broward County, Fla., schools (in the Ft. Lauderdale area). “One first-grader said it was like ants dancing on her tongue. We try to do things to make fruits and vegetables seem fun.” Moppert is among a growing crowd mixing up school food choices to get students to eat healthier. It’s happening not just through school menus and education but also by creating farm-to-school food programs through which local schools purchase the harvests of local farmers. “Farm-to-school means three things,” explains Anupama Joshi, executive director and co-founder of the National Farm to School Network in Cary, N.C. “It means local and regional food procurement in food cafeterias. It also means gardening activities in school, and third, it’s food and farming education in the classroom. The trifecta of these elements is important in changing the health of children and providing benefits to farmers.” Efforts have begun to bear fruit. “Overall in the nation, figures show that childhood obesity, which has continued to climb over a 20-year period, is now leveling off,” notes Moppert; she’s referring to studies, including one from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing that obesity has stabilized at about 17 percent for 2- to 19-year-olds. “We still have a way to go to get it to be declining. But that’s a more positive trend.” It’s not just kids who reap the rewards. The effects are rippling throughout communities, especially from farm-to-school programs. “Schools are the hubs, and kids take information from school into the community,” contends Joshi. “Farmers are benefiting from these initiatives as well. And communities benefit because there’s a multiplier effect. Each dollar invested in farm-to-school programs creates an additional $2.16 of local economic activity. For every job created by school districts purchasing local foods, an additional 1.67 jobs are created.” The best news? These programs are just getting cooking. Proponents expect an even bigger bounty when more schools get a taste of the benefits. Lunch program grows up Today’s healthier school menus have been brewing for a long time. The story begins with a federal mandate way back in 1946. “The federal government signed into law the National School Lunch Act in part as a national defense program because when the Americans went into World War II, a lot of young men were rejected for service because of nutritional deficiencies,” explains Moppert. “Then when we won, we began producing more food than we needed as a nation. The national school lunch program made lunch available to students based on need.” The program has been updated in the decades since, including in 2004, when it required each school district to have a wellness policy and committee to address issues resulting from childhood obesity. “It was due to a recognition that children might not have the same life expectancy as their parents,” says Moppert. Broward schools — where last year, 64 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price meals — have jumped in. “We’ve been in the forefront of developing healthy lunches,” says Moppert. “In the 1990s, the school system eliminated fryers and started with salad bars to get kids to eat more salads. But salad bars have some challenges, especially in the lower grades. We realized kids did better with grab-and-go salads. In 2006 and 2007, we began offering more of those. One might be a chef ’s salad with the meat of the day. Another might be a vegan salad with legumes like kidney or navy beans and seed kernels. Our salad numbers went up tremendously.” Grant grows community Another community transforming school food is Burke County, about 30 miles south of Augusta, Ga., largely through the “fruit and vegetable grant.” That’s the shorthand name used by Donna S. Martin, director of the schools’ nutrition program, for the federal program launched in 2002 as a pilot program in four states and the Zuni, N.M., tribal organization. Its goal: To determine best practices for increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption in schools. In 2008, the program became permanent nationwide. Martin says the program is one of the best she has. For five years, she’s used it to improve her schools’ food and to shape lives in her community. “We’re trying to teach children how to eat healthy in the hopes they’ll go home and teach their family how to eat healthy,” she says. “We have a high predominance of low socioeconomic statuses. Our students don’t have the same opportunities other children have. So we expose them to new foods they won’t get at home.” The grant provides about 50 cents per day per child for fruits and vegetables. Every afternoon, schools offer all children a fresh fruit or vegetable snack. Martin has served everything from pomegranate and jicama to sugar snap peas, star fruit and mangoes. “Our children get so excited,” she says. “When they walk in the school, one of the first things they do is look at the table to see what the fresh fruit or vegetable will be that afternoon. We put it there in the morning, and then during the day, we tell them where it comes from — whether it’s grown underground, on a plant, in a bush, or on a tree — and the nutritional value. We’re trying to get them the basics and show we need farmers because food doesn’t come from Walmart. We also want them to go home and say to their parents, ‘Today, I ate a mango, and I liked it. Will you buy me one?’ We think we’re having a huge impact on future generations in trying to develop healthy eaters.” Martin says very few kids refuse to sample the day’s snack. “Each student gets a baggie with it,” she says. “If the teachers will model the good behavior, the children will try it. Recently, we had figs. About a third of the students liked them, and two-thirds didn’t. But at least that

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A Healthy Food Store Movement

November 19, 2015 By John Van Gieson Where liquor bottles and advertisements once occupied prime space by the front door of the Daldas Grocery in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, customers now shop for lettuce and carrots. The Tenderloin is one of many inner city and rural areas lacking healthy food options. There are no supermarkets or grocery stores in those areas. The closest ones are a long walk or several bus rides away. The closest supermarket to the Tenderloin is a mile away. But there are more than 70 corner stores serving an area of less than half a square mile. Corner stores typically make their money selling alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets and junk food. They may offer customers a handful of bananas or apples, but not much else in the way of healthy foods. The Daldas Grocery, owned by Indian immigrant Satwinder “Bill” Multani, was one of them until public health specialists from the city of San Francisco introduced Multani to a program promoting healthy food options in corner stores. If owners agree to display fresh fruits and vegetables prominently in their stores, San Francisco’s Healthy Retail SF program provides display cases, shelving and refrigerators at no cost and teaches customers how to prepare healthy meals. “It is a very good idea,” Multani said. “I know it’s actually a positive response because I see more families now and they started shopping for produce.” “It used to be we were just like the image of a liquor store, now we’re like the image of a grocery store,” he said. From San Francisco’s immigrant-packed Tenderloin to the streets of Baltimore to the rocky coast of eastern Maine, programs encouraging healthy food conversions in corner and rural stores are spreading all over the country. The task is daunting. Karen Shore, director of consulting for The Food Trust, said millions of low-income Americans buy a lot of the food they and their families eat at “hundreds of thousands” of corner and rural stores lacking healthy food options. In large part, those stores serve African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrant groups and the rural poor. Based in Philadelphia, The Food Trust is a nonprofit dedicated to providing healthy food to all Americans. It consults with healthy corner store and inner city supermarket initiatives in 34 states, including Healthy Retail SF. Joel Gittelson, a medical anthropologist at Johns Hopkins University, has studied healthy corner store and bodega initiatives and concluded some have been quite successful, but there is a long way to go. “We’re five percent of the way,” he said. In a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gittelson studied 16 corner store initiatives in locations ranging from Apache reservations in Arizona to inner city Philadelphia and Baltimore. “Our findings indicate consistent improvement across most of the trials in availability and sale of healthy foods, the purchase and consumption of those foods and consumer knowledge,” he said. Underlying the healthy corner store movement are concerns about the impact of unhealthy diets on the health of poor Americans. Advocates say both the urban and rural poor, many of whom live below the federal poverty line, suffer high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease attributed in large part to unhealthy diets. Results from older healthy corner store initiatives are encouraging. The Food Trust reported that the Philadelphia Healthy Corner Store Initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, resulted in a 6.3 percent decline in the obesity rate among inner city children. Successful healthy corner store initiatives are built on three pillars: persuading store owners to participate in the program; providing them with the equipment they need to handle fresh produce; and teaching residents of targeted neighborhoods how to prepare healthy meals. Healthy Retail SF also works with store owners to improve their ability to run a successful business. Healthy Retail SF has set a goal of reducing the amount of space occupied by alcohol products to not more than 20 percent. Multani said alcohol takes up about 40 percent of the space in his store, but he will reduce that to 20 percent over time. “We’re not telling the owners ‘Hey you need to stop selling tobacco, you need to stop selling alcohol,'” said Jorge Rivas, program manager for Healthy Retail SF. Added Ryan Thayer, who works with the diverse residents of the Tenderloin for Healthy Retail SF, “Our theory is that over time by increasing the healthy products, there’s going to be less demand for alcohol and tobacco.” Thayer and Jessica Estrada work with a group of neighborhood residents they call “food justice leaders.” Those residents promote healthy food to their neighbors, encourage them to attend nutrition classes and demonstrations and provide community feedback to program leaders. “When we do outreach, we have to do it in seven different languages usually,” Thayer said. The Tenderloin is a tasty stew of ethnicities, including Chinese, Filipinos, Mexicans, Hondurans, Vietnamese, Yemenis, Russians, African Americans and others. Diversity means corner stores must respond to the tastes of their customers. Bok choy goes over big in one store; collard greens in another. Promoting development of supermarkets in the many urban neighborhoods that lack them is a primary goal of the healthy food movement, but for a number of reasons it’s slow going. Small healthy food stores opened in inner city neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Baltimore in recent years but quickly went out of business. Advocates say the owners meant well but failed to connect with members of the community. “Putting a new store in isn’t enough,” said Anne Palmer, a food policy advocate at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s much more complicated. It’s very hard to get all these things working in concert.” The nonprofit Fare & Square market in Chester, Pa., is a new urban supermarket that has succeeded since it opened two years ago. Chester is a struggling city of about 34,000 south of Philadelphia. Fare & Square is located in an old supermarket that closed 11 year ago. The 14,500-square-foot store, the first nonprofit of its kind, was built by Philabundance, a large hunger relief organization in Philadelphia. As a nonprofit, Fare & Square is not supposed to make money and it’s not. Mike Basher, vice president of retail operations, said revenue increased by 25 percent from year one to year two, but the store is generating only 75

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Planning for Health

November 19, 2015 By David Goldberg A century after leading the charge to create the system of land use planning and regulation we know today, public health champions are once again deeply engaged in shaping our built environment — often to undo some of the unintended consequences of practices their predecessors put in motion. The year 2016 will mark 100 years since New York City officials invoked public health and safety in adopting the first zoning laws to separate noxious industrial uses from residential areas. Around the same time the automobile burst on the scene, and by the end of World War II, the now-universal zoning laws were being used to create separated urban districts connected only by car. By the early 2000s, experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and elsewhere were beginning to point out the impact on health of this new form of human habitat. “For decades, we have designed our neighborhoods, towns and cities around the automobile as our primary source of mobility,” said Lauren Benet, a spokesman for the CDC National Center for Environmental Health. The dominance of vehicles degraded air quality, created safety problems for people on foot and all but engineered exercise out of existence for daily life. “The reason for this renewed planning/public health partnership is the growing evidence of how community design affects our health in areas such as obesity and physical activity, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and access to health care and employment opportunities.” To elevate these issues and provide health-conscious policy guidance to planners, designers and local policy- makers, the CDC created the Healthy Community Design initiative. At the time, few in the nation’s planning, development or transportation departments were talking much about health, noted Andrew Dannenberg, who led the initiative team while at CDC. That has changed today, he noted, when we see health considerations becoming key drivers in everything from regional transportation plans to discussion of housing design and indoor air quality. “For example, incorporating walkability features, designing communities so that you can walk to transit, walk or bike to destinations is really popular,” Dannenberg said. “I have seen real estate signs that promote trails, sidewalks, walkability and bikeways as an amenity. They may not say ‘health’, but that’s what it’s about.” The CDC and others helped bring the issues to light by conducting a series of “health impact assessments” (HIA) on a range of proposed transportation and development projects. One noteworthy early success was in San Francisco, where the city’s health department conducted an HIA on a proposal to demolish 360 low-income apartments and replace them with 1,400 market-rate condominiums. The HIA found that displacing the residents without creating new affordable units would threaten their access to food, increase stress and mental health problems, and raise the risk of homelessness and myriad associated health problems. The HIA led to a revised plan that allowed current residents to remain in 360 rent-controlled units contained in the project. A health screen for a city’s transpo​rtation and development plans In 2007, the city of Decatur, Ga., — a community of 19,000 in the core of metro Atlanta — became the first jurisdiction to perform a health impact assessment on its transportation plan. The result was a plan that addressed the needs of all residents in all parts of the city, as opposed to past plans that mostly focused on the convenience of motorists — many of whom were only passing through, said Amanda Thompson, who led the effort as Decatur’s planning director. “Health was a way to structure an inclusive conversation, because arguments over modes can be really divisive,” she said. “People often come to those conversations as, ‘I’m a biker, or ‘I’m a motorist’, or ‘I’m a pedestrian’. When you’re trying to balance those interests, health is a common denominator. It also helps people wrap their minds around a future that is years off. They can imagine what you might do to make health better — gaining or losing weight over time, what might happen when your parents are older and losing personal mobility, or people needing to get to healthcare. Having that conversation in that frame puts people in same place — so you’re not arguing over bike lanes for ‘those people.'” After that discussion, health — and reducing associated disparities among income groups — became part of city government culture, she said. “The biggest change I saw was with our elected officials and city manager, because it began to trickle down to everything we did. The city manager, who does not bicycle and avoids vegetables, became an avid supporter of providing opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy food.” Decatur’s example also helped inspire others. Metropolitan Nashville, for example, now uses a health screen in allocating dollars for projects in its metropolitan transportation plan, and regions as diverse as Seattle, San Diego and Detroit are working on similar efforts. Larry Frank is a researcher whose firm, Urban Design 4 Health, has helped many jurisdictions quantify the impact of planning and development decisions on health. While he has seen communities make enormous strides in many respects, he noted a disturbing trend. “I’m concerned we are not helping the people who need it the most — the poor. We bring good transit service to a neighborhood and make it more walkable, then the values go up and people get pushed out to areas where there’s poor transit and it’s unsafe to walk. We are making places nicer and safer, but they really aren’t helping the people who have the chronic health problems.” Bringing it all together: Seattle’s Yesler Terrace Officials at the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) are seeking to counter just those concerns with the ambitious redevelopment of Yesler Terrace, a 1940s-era public housing project near downtown that was Seattle’s first. In a prime location within striking distance of half the jobs in surrounding King County and a commanding view of Mt. Ranier, Yesler’s 561 subsidized units could easily have given way to pricey condos. The SHA instead is working to create a model, mixed-income community on the 30-acre site, where 1,800 of the planned 5,000 housing units will be subsidized for low- and moderate-income residents and health is embedded throughout the planning and design. As SHA began planning the complex redevelopment, officials noted a 2011 survey of residents

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Walkable Communities

November 19, 2015 By Brad Broberg One out of every two adults in the United States lives with a chronic disease. Physical activity can help prevent chronic disease, but half of all adults get too little of it. Treating chronic disease accounts for 75 percent of all health care spending, which is projected to reach $5.4 trillion a year by 2024. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Too bad there isn’t a simple way to increase physical activity, improve public health and help reduce rising healthcare costs. Ahhh, but there is. Hippocrates connected the dots more than 2,400 years ago. “Walking,” said the creator of the Hippocratic oath, “is man’s best medicine.” Millenniums later, that prescription is more valid than ever. With obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases taking a heavy toll in lives and dollars, the link between walking and health raises the stakes for creating safe and convenient places to walk. Earlier this year U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy sounded a call to action challenging all Americans to increase their physical activity through walking and challenging all communities to become more walkable. It’s a worthy goal, but a heavy lift. Much of the built environment in America is designed with driving, not walking, in mind. While walking remains a popular form of recreation, it stopped being a routine part of everyday living decades ago, erasing an inherent source of physical activity that contributed greatly to public health. “One of the biggest challenges is 50 years of automobile-dominated development,” says Scott Bricker, executive director of America Walks, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Ore. “A lot of development has basically engineered walkability out of the daily lifestyle of people.” The evidence is all around. Streets designed solely to move as much traffic as possible as fast as possible. Sidewalks and crosswalks missing in action. Families marooned in sprawling subdivisions miles from most destinations. Everybody totally dependent on their car to get around. Times are changing, though. More and more people want to live where they can walk to stores, cafes, schools and work — or at least to a transit stop. They want to reduce their reliance on cars, live more sustainably and enjoy the perks of a vibrant and connected neighborhood. Bottom line: They want to use their feet for transportation. While market forces alone are enough to give walkability greater weight in transportation planning decisions, walkability has become more than a consumer preference. With the surgeon general’s call to action, it’s now a formal public health strategy for reducing healthcare costs and helping people live longer and healthier lives. The beauty of walking as transportation is it requires no special skill, equipment or license, costs nothing and almost everyone can do it. What matters most, though, is the health benefits it delivers. A brisk daily walk can provide the 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to protect against everything from heart disease to depression to some cancers. “Walking has proven to be the best form of exercise there is for long-term health benefits (because) it’s something you can do throughout your life,” says Shawn McIntosh, program manager with the American Public Health Association. “Studies have shown that walking even 20 or 30 minutes a day can make a big difference.” Nashville, Tenn., provides a blueprint for folding health and walkability into transportation planning. Tennessee has one of the highest obesity rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and its residents are among the least physically active of any state. In 2009, the agency that allocates federal dollars for roads, bridges and other transportation projects to cities and counties in the Nashville region revised its scoring system to favor projects that support active transportation — walking, biking, transit — and produce other positive health outcomes. “We stopped thinking first about how to move cars up and down the corridor as fast as possible and started thinking about how to connect people to places in ways that would improve health,” says Leslie Meehan, former director of healthy communities for the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (NAMPO). “That shift … really moved the needle.” Under the old scoring system, only 2 percent of the projects in Nashville’s regional transportation plan included active transportation components such as sidewalks or bike lanes. After the new scoring system was introduced, nearly 70 percent supported active transportation in one way or another. The NAMPO has since placed even greater weight on improving health — 80 points out of 100 versus 60 out of 100 — and is factoring in results from a landmark health and transportation survey the agency co-sponsored in 2012. The Middle Tennessee Transportation and Health Study looked at the relationship between transportation, health and overall physical activity based on a survey of 6,000 households in the region — including a subset of 600 households who wore GPS devices and activity monitors. Data from the study has become a north star for transportation planning in the region, steering support for active transportation to neighborhoods with high levels of health problems and low levels of physical activity. “It makes sure funding goes where it’s needed most,” Meehan says. Improved health outcomes won’t come overnight because the epidemic of chronic diseases didn’t develop overnight, but the potential payback for even modest gains in physical activity is a game changer. The Middle Tennessee Transportation and Health Study found the average person in the region walks or bikes just three minutes a day for transportation purposes — excluding any walking or biking they might do for recreation or exercise. Using a model developed in the United Kingdom, the NAMPO estimated the monetary impact if everyone in the region walked or biked 10 minutes a day for transportation. “The results are preliminary … but the savings are about $200 million a year in health care costs that wouldn’t be expended because of diseases that wouldn’t be incurred because people would be healthier,” Meehan says. As more data rolls in showing the return on investment of active transportation, more thought leaders and policy makers around the country are looking at the built environment in general — and transportation in particular — from a public health perspective. “Everybody from all of these different fields — health, transportation, planning, housing —

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