The shape that we give to our city, in turn shapes us. The form that Americans began to give to their cities and suburbs in the years following World War II has molded an increasingly overweight, under-active population subject, as a result, to a variety of preventable diseases.
Shaping the Healthy Community: The Nashville Plan, the product of three years of planning, research, design and writing, explores the relationships between the built environment and public health. The book analyzes Nashville using the “transect,” an urban planning model central to the New Urbanist and smart growth movements. By considering the seven “transect zones” – natural, rural, suburban, urban, downtown, centers and districts – the book provides a diagnosis of the health promoting and health defeating aspects present in each.
Strategies tailored to each zone focus on six built environment “factors” that impact health: neighborhood design and development, transportation, walkability and pedestrian safety, food resources, housing, and open space and parks. Individual chapters include case studies of specific neighborhoods, contributions by experts in the various “factors,” info graphics, site photographs and detailed before-and-after visualizations.
Shaping the Healthy Community presents real world facts, policy recommendations and design strategies to enable health and planning professionals, developers and designers, educators and community organizations to build places in which healthy eating and exercise can be part of daily life.
Funding for the project was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant, the Nashville Public Health Department, Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Tennessee Department of Transportation and Vanderbilt University.
In the past decade, public health officials have established ever stronger links between the qualities of the built environment and the startling rise of preventable diseases, e.g. obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and asthma. With a wealth of data, information and tools to inform policy, development, planning and design, the Shaping Healthy Communities project will be a catalyst to transform Nashville into the “Healthiest City in the South.”