Our preparedness and response to COVID-19 serves as a canary in a coal mine. Ensuring we are prepared now is essential to withstanding future crises.
How many of you have heard or been told at some point in the span of your career, “it’s just business” or, another favorite, “it’s not personal”? Have you ever walked away slightly perplexed by this seemingly innocuous statement, one that somehow seems like just another day within American working society? While it may seem like nothing, I would argue that this and other trends are acute warning signs of a society in deep imbalance and moral crisis, compounded by and perpetuating the very real threats of climate change, chronic illness, divisiveness, and debt. We are actually gaslighting ourselves into apathy.
Just Over a Century Ago
From 150 years ago to today, the face of America has changed dramatically. The majority of U.S. workers used to be farmers – mom and dad canned tomatoes and broke down meat in the kitchen while the children fed the calves in the field. Communities featured prominent town squares with markets in proximity to the places people lived and gathered. Fast forward through the last century and the rise of industrial agricultural has both enabled the production of a surplus food supply and led to a convenience culture featuring processed and highly refined food products. The creation of the national freeway system and suburbia paved the way for the car as the primary mode of transportation, and a necessary one for accessing goods and services outside the suburban grid.
What spurred these changes in American society and what has been the impact?
Everything that’s happening today, whether it’s chronic disease, measles outbreaks, fake news, climate change response or immigration raids, can be thought of as consequences of two underlying forces – the stories we learn to tell ourselves about our society (ideology), and the meaning, purpose, and place we give ourselves in it (cosmology).
Is that a bold statement?
If we knew the secret to getting everyone at the table and on the same page toward the realization of a goal, we’d already be well on our way to the livable, healthy, and equitable communities many of us dream of. In reality, the dynamics of human social relationships and the transactions they impact are seldom easy or clear-cut. And even once we’ve brought everyone to the table, how do we then turn the tables on the issue we seek to address?
Bike share programs provide bicycles to the public for short-use trips through a paid membership or pay-as-you-go fee structure, but how do such programs impact community health, if at all?
A Health Impact Assessment was undertaken for the Topeka Bike Share program between Dec. 2014 and Dec. 2015. The final report is now available and can be downloaded by clicking the link below.
Creating bicycle-friendly communities starts with a lot of things, especially education, as I learned during a breakout session led by Brian Austin at the Built Environment and the Outdoors Summit. Here are my key takeaways. (more…)