From the Nature of Innovation blog here is a new way to look at what’s really needed when we talk about health care reform.

“Most people are talking about iteration, not innovation,” said Jesse Dylan recently at Mayo Clinic Transform 2010 symposium. Similar to iPhone 4, he added.

Or, if the health care model you want to improve is as outmoded as a mechanical typewriter, the best approach is to think in terms of transforming the entire concept, rather than reforming it.

“Reform involves tweaking and revising, whereas transformation means we are aiming to totally liberate people from depressing, disease-causing environments,” Tye Farrow has said. He sees the cost burden of chronic diseases as a problem that requires a bigger lens, beyond austerity measures. “Obesity is not primarily a medical problem. We waste valuable time and money when we put pressure on the health system to solve problems that are rooted in built environment. People are being starved by their physical surroundings when they could instead be nurtured by design. Obesity is a sad daily reminder that we have gone way off track by creating desolate places.”  More…

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We love Summer Streets and the quick and cheap way Janette Sadik-Khan has transformed some of Manhattan’s wildest urban motorways into graceful plazas so when the traffic cones came out and the sidewalk chalk went down at 5th and Olive, we were thrilled to see a little people-oriented oasis emerging in this bustling convergence of cross-town traffic.

But this is no trial balloon.  The transformation underway now is something we’ve been following for over a year and we’re excited to see the results, as soon as this Thanksgiving!

New Public Plaza Breaks Ground Downtown

Posted by Policy Guy • September 28, 2010 • Printer-friendly
A look at the plans for McGraw Park

Last Friday, DSA VP of Advocacy and Economic Development Jon Scholes joined Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith and Urban League President James Kelly to celebrate the groundbreaking of McGraw Square, a new Downtown public plaza adjacent to the southern Seattle Streetcar terminus.

DSA’s Jon Scholes addresses the crowd at the McGraw Park groundbreaking.

The City of Seattle is permanently closing Westlake Avenue between Olive and Stewart Streets to create a new plaza that will include a rain garden, secure and covered bike parking and space for mobile food vending. The plaza will be a great spot for residents and Downtown employees to gather for lunch, linger with a book or park their bike before catching the streetcar or light rail.

In his remarks to the crowd, Scholes touched on the need for more open space Downtown and the importance of making use of the city’s existing right of way to create new parks and open space at a time when money to acquire new expensive park property is limited.  He noted Portland’s recent success in creating a public plaza in its downtown and that Seattle can look to this .

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From the New York Times here is more dire news on the obesity epidemic.  What can we do to plan an environment where the healthy choice truly is the easy choice?  We haven’t all just lost our will power in the last 20 years.  We have built a world where it’s nearly impossible not to be overweight.

Until 1980, fewer than one in 10 people in industrialized countries like the United States were obese.

Today, these rates have doubled or tripled. In almost half of developed countries, one out of every two people is overweight or obese. These populations are expected to get even heavier in the near future, and in some countries two out of three people are projected to be obese within 10 years.

Those are some of the disturbing statistics from a new report released today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a research and membership organization that focuses on the world’s richest nations. More…

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Great news from the Streets for All Seattle coalition, of which Great City is a proud member!  The proposed 2011-2012 City budget includes a significant increase in funding for pedestrian, bicycle and transit.  During these tough times, this funding represents a solid first step and a display of good faith towards building a transportation system that works for today without mortgaging tomorrow.

We need to stand together and make sure the City Council keeps this funding in the budget. Only with your presence can we ensure that important mobility projects like sidewalks in South Park and Crown Hill, extending the Chief Sealth Trail, the completion of the Transit Master Plan, and even basic street maintenance receive the funding they deserve.

This is your opportunity to become a hero, a budget hearing hero. Starting this evening the City Council will listen to members of the public like you and make crucial decisions about the budget.  This budget process is crucial for our campaign to fund pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure, and we need supporters like you to turn out at each hearing.  Are you ready to stand with Streets For All Seattle?

Then join us at three incredibly important budget hearings where you can tell the Council your story and help shape the future of our city.  If you RSVP online we’ll even have a free Streets For All Seattle T-Shirt waiting for you when you arrive!

Wednesday, September 29, Northgate Community Center Gym, 10510 5th Ave NE, 98125, 5 p.m. Sign-in, 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing; afterparty at the RAM restaurant and brewery, 401 NE Northgate Way, Ste. 1102.  RSVP here so we know how many people to expect.

Wednesday, October 13, The Brockey Center at South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Avenue SW, 98106, 5 p.m. Sign-in, 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing, free, accessible parking is available in the South or General Parking lots; afterparty location TBD. RSVP here so we know how many people to expect.

Tuesday, October 26, Seattle City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd floor, 600 Fourth Avenue, 98104, 5 p.m. Sign-in, 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing; afterparty at Collins Pub, 526 2nd ave, Seattle, WA 98104.  RSVP here so we know how many people to expect.

Can’t make it to the budget hearings?  Wondering how else you can help?  Tell the City Council your story, and/or donate to Streets For All Seattle and help us have the resources necessary to make walking, bicycling and transit the easiest ways to get around Seattle.

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Much has been said around these parts lately about who the streets belong to, whether there’s a place for bicyclists in our transportation system and whether they are paying their fair share. Today, we came across this thought-provoking post from Cyclelicio.us:

Share The Road

What does “Share the Road” mean? What do Share the Road signs convey to road users?

Bike Lawyer Steve Magas attacks the Share the Road concept, explaining that once you have the right of way on a public road, no matter your mode of travel, you have the right of way. There is not legal obligation to share the lane, according to Magas.  More…

So, what do you say: take the lane, or share and share alike?

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So says Dr. Richard Jackson (via ASLA’s The Dirt).  He goes on to advocate for expanding public transportation and other aspects of the built environment that promote health.

Dr. Richard Jackson, Chair of the School of Health at UCLA, and former head of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), argued that how we shape our environment impacts our health. There are now deep-rooted structural issues with the built environment that are creating epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and depression. Also, the current way of dealing with these structural issues is only just increasing the annual amount of spending on healthcare (now at 17 percent of GDP), instead of addressing the underlying problems. “We are now medicalizing the problems people are experiencing with their environment. We are no longer creating wellbeing.”

Instead of addressing the public health impacts of the absence of trees, low-albedo streets (which contribute to the urban heat island effect), as well as a lack of sustainable transportation planning, which can help spur the growth of public transit options, we are instead “looking at the end of the pipeline,” the medical effects.  More…

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Here’s an announcement from the King County Board of Health on their support for healthy planning and land use guidelines.

The King County Board of Health today passed a resolution approving and supporting the 2010 Board of Health Guidelines: Planning for Healthy Communities, intended to inform land use and transportation planning decisions to promote healthy living throughout King County.

“Our environment, such as our roads, walking paths and economic infrastructure, has a significant impact on the physical, mental and social well-being of the people in our communities” said Julia Patterson, Chair of the King County Board of Health. “These guidelines are intended to help local jurisdictions ensure that their land use planning decisions do not compromise the public’s health, and to serve as a reminder that planning issues remain at the root of some of the most widespread public health problems like obesity and substance abuse.”  More…

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