Guest Post by Keith Reester, Director of Public Works, Loveland, Co.
Every day we build! Public works builds roads, bridges, sidewalks, and parks…are we doing it in a way that makes our communities better today and in the future? If we look across our nation we face a dynamic shift in demographics and in community health; our population is aging and also rapidly growing in girth. So what difference does that make to public works professionals?
We are the managers of the built environment in our communities; we take the lead in assuring access by cars, bikes, and pedestrians. In many communities our past decisions now haunt our present as we try to build our way into a form of multi-modal connectivity. Some of us will discount the new efforts to add bike lanes at the expense of move vehicle travel lanes, or divert a portion of our dwindling and hard fought capital dollars to projects that seem to have far less users for the cost we pay for them. But part of building sustainable communities is about interconnecting neighborhoods and access to services that residents want and need. Sometimes it is being the leader in making this happen while in others it takes being a follower. In many communities the discussion of sustainability wraps around integrating and changing the built environment for better ecosystems and health.
In the past year HBO Films has developed series of films, The Weight of the Nation, highlighting what the United States faces in terms of obesity and the factors that contribute to its rapid rise. The link to the short film below (19 minutes) highlights changes in Nashville, Tennessee and watch for our peers on the Nashville team as they work through changes in community infrastructure to transform the health of their community.
Another interesting film on the built environment and communities in featured in the one-hour documentary Urbanized http://urbanizedfilm.com/
So what are you doing in your community to integrate and change the built environment for better ecosystems and health?