Courtesy of USDA; photo by Lance Cheung
For more information on NAR and smart growth, visit www.realtor.org/smartgrowth.
On Common Ground is published twice a year by the Community and Political
Affairs division of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR),
and is distributed free of charge. The publication presents a wide range of
views on smart growth issues, with the goal of encouraging a dialogue among
REALTORS®, elected officials and other interested citizens. The opinions
expressed in On Common Ground are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the opinions or policy of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
OF REALTORS®, its members or affiliate organizations.
Joseph R. Molinaro
Managing Director, Community
and Political Affairs
Manager, Smart Growth Program
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
500 New Jersey Avenue, N W
Washington, DC 20001
To order additional copies of On Common Ground,
please e-mail us at OCG@realtors.org.
On Common Ground is also available online at:
©2016 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
As planning and zoning evolved throughout the 20th century,
more focus was given to separating different land uses,
spreading things out, and designing the metropolis to facilitate
the driving and parking of motor vehicles. Walking as a form
of daily transportation became rare.
Now, well into the 21st century, we are seeing a renewed
focus on how community planning and civic activism can affect
and improve the public’s health. With obesity and chronic
diseases such as diabetes afflicting so many Americans, many
elements of smart growth, such as facilitating more walking
and biking, are recognized as having important links to health.
Of course, diet plays a huge role in health too, and providing
better access to healthy food, such as fresh produce, is playing
an increasing role in public health initiatives and city planning.
Many schools are developing new approaches to encourage
students to eat better food and be more physically active.
Urban gardening programs have been found to improve the
gardeners’ diets as well as improving social ties and civic
engagement. Cities are helping small grocery stores provide
healthier food options for customers. Making biking safer (with
protected bike lanes) and easier (with bike share programs)
can increase the use of bicycles for transportation purposes,
making exercise a regular part of a person’s day. As research
increasingly shows that contact with the natural world is
essential for our well-being, providing better access to nature
and parks is now seen as a health issue rather than just an
aesthetic one. How we build and grow our communities can
have a large impact on our health and quality of life.
Designing Healthy Communities