The CDRC continues our FIT CITY work as we help our neighbors on Woolson Street in Mattapan plan a new community garden. At a public meeting in January, the neighborhood voiced strong support for a community garden at the city-owned vacant lot at 44 Woolson. In February, the Department of Neighborhood Development issued an RFP for a garden on that site. In March, the Boston Natural Areas Network submitted a proposal in collaboration with Woolson Street neighbors and the CDRC. While we await official word from the City, we’re continuing to work with the neighbors in planning the garden. If all goes well, our team will be awarded the project, and gardeners will plant their first seeds in June.
What will your garden grow?
In the 100 days counting down to a new Mayor of Boston, the Menino administration is offering ideas and insight to help Mayor-elect Walsh — and all of us — make a smooth transition.
On December 10, the Next Boston blog encouraged the new mayor to embrace Healthy Community Design.
Excerpts from that post:
Embracing Health in All Policies
The health of the City of Boston is about so much more than just medical care. While our city has world-class medical resources, where we live, learn, work and play also have a significant impact on shaping our health and well-being. Community design and public policies affect our access to physical activity, nutritious food, healthy housing, good jobs, clean air, and safe public places.
The “Health in All Policies” approach has two basic ideas. First, incorporate health considerations into decision-making across all the agencies and organizations that influence community design, including transportation and development. Second, engage residents, who best understand the community context, into these processes. City departments and private developers are already leading the way in this effort. Ongoing projects include:
This year, in partnership with the Boston Society of Architects, we launched the Fit City Boston initiative which brings together planners, architects, developers, public officials, academics and residents to explore how physical activity can be supported by the design of our streets and buildings. At the Fit City Summit in May, 100 participants brainstormed ideas. At a November workshop, designers, public health officials and residents applied these concepts to community spaces in Mattapan, which will be used to inform upcoming planning processes.
Click on the graphic below to read the full post.
At the Fit City Design Charrette at ABX on November 21, over 50 design professionals, public health advocates, and neighborhood residents brainstormed ideas for how to transform a handful of underutilized Mattapan sites into places that support active and healthy living. A number of concepts emerged, incorporating elements of community gardens and urban farming, as well as play and exercise spaces. Special attention was paid to connecting sites to each other to create a neighborhood network, and to connecting these sites to other existing and planned neighborhood amenities, like the Neponset River and the Fairmont Greenway.
All sites studied are real places that the City of Boston and others are hoping to transform into community spaces, depending on input from the neighborhood.
Ideas generated at the Charrette will be taken to neighborhood meetings for further discussion, and will be used to inform the ongoing planning processes.
A special THANK YOU to Woolson Street area residents, to Pastor Zephir and the Greater Boston Nazarene Compassionate Center, and to professionals from the Boston Public Health Commission, the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, the Boston Transportation Department, the Boston Natural Areas Network, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Trust for Public Land, ReVision Urban Farm, the Fairmont Greenway Initiative, Enterprise Community Partners, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and the Salem Public Space Project for participating in the Fit City Charrette conversation!
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today launched Fit City Boston, an initiative to examine how Boston’s urban environment impacts resident health, and to set a plan for transforming Boston into the healthiest city in America. The initiative will examine how community design, social policies, and resource distribution impact daily choices and physical health.
More than 150 local and national planners, architects, developers, public officials, academics, and residents discussed the great strides that Boston has made in promoting health and health equity, and participants worked throughout the day to chart the next steps for building on this progress.
“Some factors that affect health are personal decisions, but others are out of an individual’s control – like whether there are spaces to walk and play outside,” Mayor Menino said. “We already have many of the world’s leading health institutions and leaders in design, planning and development here in Boston, as well as a revitalized harbor and world-class parks system. Fit City Boston will bring all these resources together to help ensure our city’s built environment allows all Bostonians to achieve their optimal health.”
More than half adult Bostonians are obese or overweight, which can lead to preventable chronic health conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and asthma. Black, Latino, and other communities of color, as well as vulnerable populations, are disproportionately affected by these diseases. For example, the hospitalization rate for asthma among Black children under age 5 is four times the rate of White children. These health problems cannot be solved by public health or health care alone. Solutions are embedded in community design, social policies, and resource distribution that impact the choices residents have and make every day.
“Fit City Boston recognizes that how communities are designed and developed directly affects which residents have easy access to physical activity, nutritious food, healthy housing, and clean air,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, a member of the initiative steering committee. “While we work to improve individual and community health, it is increasingly important that we focus on the physical places where we live, work, and play, and their effect on health, as well. Fit City Boston gives us the opportunity to get new perspectives and tap into new resources for our work.”
The Fit City Boston initiative will:
Partners in the initiative include the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Boston Transportation Department, the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, the Boston Society of Architects, Enterprise Community Partners, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The summit was sponsored by Boston Properties and The Boston Foundation.
“Boston is truly fortunate to be the “living lab” for many researchers from our great academic institutions,” said Dr. John D. Spengler, professor and director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health and today’s keynote speaker. “Working with city schools to reduce obesity, with the housing authorities on asthma, pest control and smoking cessation, planning agencies on climate adaptation and citizens of South Boston and Chinatown concerned with traffic impacts on their health, faculty and students are helping to shape Boston’s future.”
“As the ultimate goal of sustainable design is the health, happiness, and safety of people, social sustainability and environmental justice must fit within the Boston Society of Architects’ advocacy agenda. This summit presents a great opportunity for the BSA and our partners to contribute to one of Mayor Menino’s lifetime legacy projects: making Boston a healthier place to live,” said Mike Davis, president of the Boston Society of Architects. “As we convene with multidisciplinary experts from the Boston Public Health Commission, the Harvard School of Public Health, Partners HealthCare, Enterprise Community Partners, and many other private and public organizations, we hope this will be the beginning of a transformational exchange of ideas.”
The initiative is modeled after Fit City New York, which is co-hosted by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.