Learning about growing in a way that works for everybody, 2016 Policy Forum, Smart Growth America Local Leaders Council

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Evaluating a complete street in front of the Center for Total Health – 2016.07.19 Smart Growth America Policy Forum 00840 (View on Flickr.com)

From time to time, I interlope (with permission) in dialogues that are relevant to the health of the people we serve at the Center for Total Health. It’s what a curious family physician does – if there’s a better way to do something, I want to know about it.

In this case, the dialogue was Policy Forum 2016, hosted by Smart Growth America (@SmartGrowthUSA) Local Leaders Council (@SGALocalLeaders), which is:

Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council is a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities.

Representing diverse communities of all sizes from across the United States, members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council are using smart growth strategies to help their hometowns compete and grow in today’s economy, generate better return on taxpayer investment, provide transportation and housing choices for their residents, and create vibrant places where people want to live, work, and play.

As I said, interloping 🙂 . However, these are dialogues that are far more relevant to physicians than most doctors realize – it’s easy to see how better environments produce better health, and the converse.

As believers in the study of total health, and physical activity integration into everything, we do a lot of walks through the NoMa neighborhood with visitors from around the world, accompanied with data furnished by the wall that teaches (thanks @communitycommon). As we learn about the changing face of Washington, DC, especially this part of it, the question invariably arises – are people displaced?

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2016.07.19 Smart Growth America Policy Forum 2016 00829 (View on Flickr.com)

That’s why I enjoyed the conversation called “Revitalization Without Displacement”, which included our own (DC’s) Deputy Mayor Courtney Snowden (@DMGEOSnowden) as well as Washtenaw County, MI Commissioner Conan Smith (@ConanSmith).

I learned that local leaders are seeing the same things I do in our neighborhoods and it’s not a foregone conclusion that growth means loss for existing residents.

I learned a new term – “cultural gentrification” which is what happens when a resident isn’t displaced economically but culturally from a neighborhood. Conan Smith talked about gentrification in place:

And in Washington, DC, more attention is being paid to the Wards of our city that have not had attention paid to in the past

This is still a super complicated issue, and there are lots of areas of unevenly distributed success.

As Deputy Mayor Snowden pointed out, there are disparities…

…that have been noticed by myself,

…and also called out by Amy Liu (@amy_liuw) from the Brookings Institution

This is good news to me, because walking the changing neighborhoods sometimes makes one feel like no one is paying attention, however, people are paying attention.

Speaking of walking, every learning experience includes it, especially this one. At the Center for Total Health (@KPtotalHealth) we create “walking meeting rooms” that are timed and coordinated. Instead of reserving a space for a block of time, we reserve a bit of happy neurochemistry instead.

View route map for KP Center for Total Health: Uline Arena on plotaroute.com

Ted Eytan, MD