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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Perspectives (October 2016)

Sara Merz - Headshot--reducedWhat do safer chicken, land use plans and art have in common? They all affect what large numbers of people do. And we’re moving in the right direction.

Chicken in school lunchrooms will soon meet a higher standard than conventionally-raised chicken in grocery stores – with reduced antibiotic use. Antibiotics fed to the animals we eat are recognized as a health risk to humans. Producers who meet the new standards will no longer feed chickens daily antibiotics – only if prescribed by a vet. School nutrition directors and school food advocates have led this effort, including supply chain work with producers (Perdue Foods has been a leader in the antibiotic reduction) to meet this new demand – and support local farmers. This is an exciting example of systems change improving health of our kids.

southeast-area-studeyLand Use – CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) is working on its Southeast Area Study, its third regional transportation plan. It also makes recommendations on land use and development, and prioritizes future transportation funding. This Area Study is focused on parts of Raleigh and Garner, along with parts of Johnson County. This process involves municipal staff for the entire region, elected officials, and residents. It will be used to update CAMPO’s transportation funding guidelines, inform Triangle J plans, and communicate with the state.

Art as Infrastructure The Urban Design Center (UDC) in Raleigh hosts monthly lunch presentations which  often share early steps of where Raleigh goes as a city. In September, the conversation was led by Sarah Powers of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. She presented the draft Raleigh Arts Plan, which will be finalized by February 2017.

I was especially struck by the mention of art on the greenways and in parks., and this takeaway: Permanent art and events both impact how people gather, how we educate, what stories we tell/remember, what we build, safety, how communities share experiences, quality of life, and how we welcome newcomers.

I asked Powers more about how she sees this affecting health and quality of life. She said that making public spaces interesting, getting people out of their routines and into new spaces and experiences, and interacting with each other all benefit health and quality of life. She gave the example of Pokemon Go, which does all of these things.

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