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Partnerships in Creating Active Communities. Public Health: Karen Petersmarck Environmental Organization: Brian Fellows Rails to Trails: Nancy Krupiarz. Our Goals for You Today:. You will leave here with Ideas for “unlikely partners” to help you create active communities.

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Partnerships in Creating Active Communities

Public Health: Karen Petersmarck

Environmental Organization: Brian Fellows

Rails to Trails: Nancy Krupiarz

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Our Goals for You Today:

You will leave here with

  • Ideas for “unlikely partners” to help you create active communities.

  • Understanding of “what’s in it for them.”

  • Knowledge of three entry points into “the establishment.”

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Public Health


MDCH strives for a healthier Michigan. To that end, the department will:

  • Take steps to prevent disease, promote wellness and improve quality of life.

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Local Public Health

  • Every county belongs to a local health department.

  • Local public health has the same mission.

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What’s In It For Us?

  • It’s our job to make it easier for people to be healthy!

  • We are mandated to work on “active communities.”

  • We didn’t learn how to do it in school!

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Increasing Physical Activity:

Education is good, but it won’t get people moving if exercise is inconvenient or dangerous.

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Public Health: Entry Point #1


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How’s this related to urban planning



Smart Growth

“Those living in sprawling counties were likely to walk less, weigh more, and have greater prevalence of hypertension than those living in compact communities”

-Reid Ewing et al. American Journal of Health Promotion

“There is a connection between the fact that the urban sprawl we live with daily makes no room for sidewalks or bike paths and the fact that we are an overweight, heart disease-ridden society”

-Richard Jackson, MD, MPH. Planning and Zoning News

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Can Be Affected By Planning Decisions

Access to Healthy Food

Utilitarian Activity

Physical Activity


Nutritious Diet

Recreation Activity

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Planning for Utilitarian Physical Activity

Create Transportation Choices

To encourage physical activity as part of daily routines, urban areas should be designed to allow for alternatives to automobile use.

  • Walking

  • Biking

  • Transit

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Planning for Utilitarian Physical Activity


  • Sidewalks

  • Crosswalks

  • Bulb outs

Tools to make walking a safe and dignified transportation option

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Planning for Utilitarian Physical Activity


  • Designated bike lanes

  • Commuter trails

  • More bicycle parking

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Planning for Utilitarian Physical Activity


Public transportation supplements active transportation because people need to walk to and from transit stops

  • More comprehensive and reliable service

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Planning for Recreational Exercise

Destinations & Linkages

In order for active recreation to be enjoyable, people need safe places to run, walk, bike, play ball, etc and these places should be interconnected.

East Riverfront Plan

  • Parks

  • Trails

  • Greenways

  • River access

Hart Plaza

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Planning for Recreational Exercise


55% trail users report increased activity levels resulting from the existence of a trail in their area

Even the previously inactive find trails attractive and use them

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A “syn-solution”

 Depression

 Air pollution

 CO2 emissions

Physical activity

And by the way…

 Infrastructure costs

 Social capital

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How Can You Become an Advisor for Obesity?

State Level:

  • Health Department:

    • Find obesity or physical activity.

    • Help develop the State Plan.

    • Include in the State Plan programs you can contribute.

  • Dept. Education:

    • Find Physical Education

    • Safe routes to school

    • Connecting trails to schools

    • Bike safety programs

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Local Level

Local Health Department:

Find coalitions or advisory groups:

Non-motorized transportation

“Healthy Washtenaw”

Help with assessments

Help create plans

School District:

Safe routes to school

Bike safety

How Can You Become an Advisor for Obesity?

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Public Health: Entry Point #2


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Dekalb Neighbor, July 4, 2001

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How You Can Become an Advisor for Injury Prevention

  • Get data on biking and walking injuries and deaths in your state or area.

    • Amazingly, this may be hard to find!

    • Some states collect this with surveillance of hospital emergency departments.

    • Try National Center for Walking and Bicycling

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How You Can Become an Advisor for Injury Prevention

2. Find the person in charge of injury at the state health department.

3. Ask about existing programs for bike and ped injuries.

4. Ask about a state plan for injury control.

5. Offer to help.

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Public Health: Entry Point #3


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“Senior-Friendly Communities”

  • By 2030, 20% of us will be age 65+.

  • State governments are scared about health care costs.

  • Prevention is finally seen as important.

  • Making it easy to be physically active is critical.

  • You can help.

  • Senior volunteers can help you.

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How You Can Become an Advisor for “Healthier Aging”

  • Data:

    • Lack of physical activity

    • Disproportionate pedestrian deaths and injuries among elderly

  • Find the State Unit on Aging.

  • Ask about existing programs for physical activity, injury prevention, older drivers.

  • Ask to see state plan.

  • See where you could fit.

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Public Health Entry Points

Multiple State Plans

  • Cardiovascular Disease

  • Injuries

  • Obesity

  • Osteoporosis

  • Cancer prevention

  • Arthritis

  • Diabetes

  • Physical Activity

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Moving from “Outsider” to “Insider”

Tactics Review:

  • Identify their priorities

  • Pursue win-win projects

  • “Carry the water” for their project or priority

  • Say “yes” to work groups

    - Lucinda Means

    League of Michigan Bicyclists

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How A Non-Profit Organization Can Drive Bike/Ped Policy(And Partnerships)

River Action, Inc.

Davenport, Iowa

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An Introduction ToThe Quad Cities

  • 180 miles due west of Chicago

  • 5-city area ~ 350,000 population

  • Iowa – Bettendorf, Davenport

  • Illinois – Rock Island, Moline, East Moline

  • Farm economy, former hub for agricultural equipment manufacture

  • Illinois QCs – 60+ miles of riverfront trail

  • Iowa QCs – 7 miles of riverfront trail, additional 10 miles inland

  • American Discovery Trail

  • Mississippi River Trail

  • 2006 National Trails Symposium, Davenport, Iowa

Photo: Ken Larvenz

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River Action - Background

  • Mission: To advocate for public access to - and the overall health of - the Mississippi River

  • Founded in 1983 as “Lights, River, Action” in order to raise approx. $300,000 for installing lights on the Centennial Bridge

  • Board of Directors – represents many segments of society and political preference including medicine, education, business, industry, utilities, nursing, and retired individuals

Photo: Brian Fellows

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Local governments in 12 communities

2 states (IA, IL)

2 counties (Scott, Rock)

50 miles of shore

Davenport, IAMoline, IL

Bettendorf, IACordova, IL

Buffalo, IAHampton, IL

East Moline, IL

Princeton, IARapids City, IL

LeClaire, IAPort Byron, IL

Rock Island, IL

River Action’s Territory and Working Relationships

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River Action – Focus Areas

- Stormwater runoff reduction, native plants, thoughtful urban riverfront development, design guidelines

- River conservation, environmental education

- Riverfront development, public access, walkability, multi-use trails, activities to draw people back to the river

Photo: Brian Fellows

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River Action’s Bike/Ped Projects

  • Ride The River bike ride

  • Public art

  • Senior Golf Cart Tour

  • Walk To The River

  • Mississippi River Connections Walking Guide

Drawing: The Lakota Group

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River Action’s Bike/Ped Projects

  • 20th Street Overlook

  • Great River Trail (IL)

  • Mississippi River Trail (IA)

  • Channel Cat water taxi

  • River Vision riverfront planning process

Photo: Brian Fellows

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Volunteer Network

  • Interested citizens

  • Neighborhood assocs.

  • Civic groups

  • Retirees

  • Environmental orgs

  • Corporate

  • School/PTAs

  • ‘Boot camps’

Photo: Brian Fellows

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Local Government’s (MPO) Role

  • Coordinate commun-ication between members

  • Nurture partnerships

  • Grantwriting assistance

  • Identify multijurisdic-tional opportunities

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Some Unlikely Partnerships

  • Nahant Marsh

    (farmers, landowners)

  • Pervious parking lot

    (Army Corps of Engineers)

  • Sylvan Island

    (Hispanic neighborhood assoc.)

  • Lindsay Park

    (Demolition contractor)

Photo: Brian Fellows

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Some Unlikely Partnerships

  • American Discovery Trail

    (Army Corps, casino boats)

  • Mississippi River Connections Walking Guide

    (Trinity Regional Health System; McDonald’s restaurants – don’t say “eeeuu!”)

Photo: Brian Fellows

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Some Unlikely Partnerships

  • Arsenal Island RiverWay art

    • Native Americans involved; Black Hawk relative blessed the site

    • Public involved in site selection and artist designs

Photo: Brian Fellows

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Some Unlikely Partnerships

  • Credit Island RiverWay art

    • Goal: create new node

    • Former residents

    • Felled trees hauled

    • Chainsaw-sculpted

    • High school students taught pointillism

    • Sondheim musical during dedication

Photo: Brian Fellows

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Keys To Success – The Four M’sPhase 1: Building the foundation

  • Manpower (partnerships)

  • Money (cash AND in-kind)

  • Municipalities (buy-in)

  • Media (exposure)

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Keys To Success – The Four I’sPhase 2: Day-to-day operations

  • Inclusion (public)

  • Involvement (partners)

  • Ingenuity (synergy)

  • Immediacy (deadlines)

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Unlikely Partnerships in Creating Bikeable/Walkable Communities


September, 2004

Michigan Field Office

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) Communities

  • RTC is a national organization with 6 Field Offices (MI, CA, FL, PA, OH and New England

  • Purpose: to enrich America's communities and countryside by creating a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors.

  • 13,000 miles in US; Michigan: 2nd in nation, 1,329 miles

  • We provide technical assistance on trail building, educate the public and promote trail building policy at all levels of government

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On the state level, trails have played a part in: Communities

Cool Cities Initiative

Safe Routes to School

Transportation Summit


Land Use



Healthy CommunitiesNetwork

MI Steps Up

Michigan Cardiovascular Health Task Force

Designing Healthy Livable Communities Conference

MI Land Use Leadership Council

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The Key is . . . Communities

  • Show you deserve a place at the Table through

    --relationship building

    --initiate action to help

  • Show up and contribute (whether it’s directly related to your topic or not --general expertise and leadership is helpful too)

  • Keep in contact and look for your entry

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Historic Preservation Groups Communities

Watershed Councils

Economic Development


Land Conservancies

Agriculture Community

Academic community

General Public

Political Leaders

Community Planners

Transportation Planners

Tourism Officials

Partnership Building at the Local Level:Build a Green Infrastructure Vision

Non-Motorized Advocates can Build Relationships with:

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Green Infrastructure Communitiesis an interconnected green space network that provides the ecological framework for environmental, social and economic sustainability

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Green Infrastructure Planning Communities


  • Identifying the Stakeholders

  • Creating a Forum for Leadership

  • Seek Public Review & Comment

  • Gather Information

  • Establish a vision and a mission

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Meridian Township Greenspace Plan Communities

  • Land preservation millage of 2001

  • Dilemma – which parcels to purchase and/or where to focus development?

  • Pathway millage since 1994 - widened sidewalks w/ many unsafe intersections. Few on-road connections

  • Greenspace plan provided a consolidated vision of how to accomplish both objectives.

32 square miles

40,000 people

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How it was done (in brief) Communities




















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How it was done (in brief) Communities




















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A Map and Inventory of: Communities

Priority conservation corridors

Scenic road corridors

Parks & open space

Public & school property

Fragile Links

Restoration opportunities

Foot Trails

Multi-use Trails

On-road Facilities

And Recommendations

New policies and ordinances to implement the plan

ResultGreenspace map and implementation plan

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W.I.N. (Watershed Initiative Network) to improve water quality

Trails are a subset

Green Infrastructure planning:

--thorough investigation of the project area

--public involvement

Saginaw Bay Greenways

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W.I.N. Greenways Mission quality

“The Saginaw Bay Watershed will have a Greenway Network that connects our communities to the area’s natural and cultural amenities for the recreation, transportation, education, and health benefits of its citizens.”

For more info:

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For more information quality

  • For Meridian Twp. Plan:

    The Greenways Collaborative, Inc.

  • Green Infrastructure planning in general

    Conservation Fund

    1800 North Kent St.

    Arlington, VA 22209

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