Designing Healthy Communities


Updated Wed, Oct 31, 2012 4:22 pm

Dr. Richard Jackson explains the link between our health and the way our communities — especially our suburbs — are designed. Obesity, asthma, diabetes and heart disease are all aggravated by the auto-centric way we live our lives today. It’s no secret that today’s generation of children are likely to have shorter lives than their parents because of their unhealthy lifestyles.  It doesn’t have to be this way. Well-designed communities can improve both physical and mental health, as Dr. Jackson explains in this public television series.

November 6

"Retrofitting Suburbia"
 
Dr. Richard Jackson MD MPH, investigates the link between our nation’s obesity and Type 2 Diabetes epidemic with urban sprawl fueled by car dependency. To prevent disease through better urban planning, Boulder, CO redesigns the city to make bicycles a safe alternative transportation. Two Denver suburbs transform dead malls into mixed use and public transit-centered communities. An abandoned mall in Georgia gains new life as a K-8th grade charter school. And two former grad students from Georgia Tech, mentored by their professor, create visionary projects that are forever changing the face of Atlanta.

November 13

"Rebuilding Places of the Heart"

Parents and children under seige.  When U.S. industry and manufacturing collapsed or went elsewhere, cities like Elgin, IL, and Syracuse, NY, (like many communities in the United States) were left with the task of redefining themselves for a new paradigm.  Leading the way to a greener, more sustainable Elgin is a group of high school students.  Despite many innovative programs to get Syracuse back on its feet, the city struggles with the larger problem of Lake Onondaga, the most polluted lake in our nation. Local Native American Onondaga tribal leader, Oren Lyons, serves as conscience in the movement to restore Lake Onondaga for “Seven Generations to come.”  And in Riverside, CA, 16-year old science prodigy, Otana Jakpor, has a personal reason for her war against air pollution. She takes her battle all the way to the White House.

November 30

"Social Policy in Concrete"

Dr. Jackson believes it is every citizen’s right to live in a clean, healthy environment. This isn’t the case for many low-income neighborhoods, built near big transportation hubs and struggling industrial cities like Oakland, CA and Detroit, MI.  We meet a morbidly obese grandmother struggling to raise seven grandchildren, all of whom have asthma as a result of living near the Port of Oakland.  The city of Detroit resembles an abandoned war zone. Yet, hope blossoms in both. Health officials, community activists and a new breed of young Urban Pioneers are working to fix their cities by transforming urban wilderness and food deserts into inspirational new models for other troubled communities.

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