SGA to host webinar on new report about sprawl and its impact on development in the United States

In 2001, Smart Growth America (SGA) released the landmark study Measuring Sprawl and its Impact. Next week, SGA is releasing the next edition of this flagship report with new information about the state of development in the United States.

To mark the launch of this new report, Measuring Sprawl 2014, SGA and the Metropolitan Research Center are hosting a webinar detailing the report’s findings and discussing growth strategies with communities highlighted in the new analysis. The webinar will take place on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at 11:00 am EDT. This event is free. Continue reading

New infographic explores how changing communities gets people moving

Communities across the nation are doing more to ensure that streets, sidewalks, schools, and parks support walking, biking, and playing. A new infographic from Active Living Research (ALR) highlights several studies that evaluated changes in physical activity after the implementation of built environment and programmatic modifications in different cities. For example, children are more likely to walk or bike to school when there are quality streets and crosswalks, and programs that promote safety; existence of bike lanes is related to higher rates of cycling; and the presence of recreational facilities close to home encourages more physical activity. Continue reading

Leveraging the power of design and design thinking for public health

Oct. 8, 2013, RWJF Blog

By Matthew Trowbridge

It is increasingly clear that solutions for our most pressing and challenging public health issues will ultimately hinge on designing environments that encourage healthy behavior choices by making them more available, economical, and enjoyable.

Traditional public health approaches are not perfectly suited to this task. For example, epidemiological studies allow us to measure the association between environmental design features such as parks or sidewalks and walking behavior, but these experimental data are generally insufficient to be either actionable by decision-makers or effective in prompting behavior change. As Jeff Speck, urban planner and theorist, observes in his recent book “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time”:

“The pedestrian is an extremely fragile species, the canary in the coal mine of urban livability. Under the right conditions, this creature thrives and multiplies. But creating   those conditions requires attention to a broad range of criteria, some more easily         satisfied than others.” Continue reading

Call for presentations

The July 1 proposal deadline is fast approaching for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2014 Convention, occurring July 26-28, 2014, in Chicago. Submit your proposal today!

Recognizing and communicating the impact design can have on public health is a primary interest of the Institute and intended to be a focus area at the 2014 Convention. Subject matter experts in public health are welcome to apply. Continue reading

Fighting childhood obesity one school cafeteria at a time

May 10, 2013, ABC News

By Lisa Stark

In the fight against childhood obesity, the weapons have been many. Schools have tried exercise and education, and the government has mandated healthier school lunches. Now a school district in Virginia is believed to be the first in the country to try something radical —redesigning the school building, itself.

“It’s not completely out of thin air,” said public health expert Terry Huang, who helped spearhead the project, [and is a member of an expert scientific panel for the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR)]. “It is rooted in a long history of reinventing school designs to promote learning and mental well-being. We simply took that one step further.”

The result is a new elementary school for 970 kindergarteners through fifth-graders that opened this school year in rural Buckingham County, Va. From the ground up, the school is designed to promote activity and healthy eating. Continue reading