Plan4Health Success Story: Advancing Health and Knowledge in Wisconsin

Plan4Health connects communities across the country, funding work at the intersection of planning and public health. Anchored by American Planning Association (APA) chapters and American Public Health Association (APHA) affiliates, Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.

In early 2016, APA's Wisconsin Chapter announced its receipt of a grant through the Planners4Health initiative to build local capacity for integrating planning and public health. The initiative's goal was to create stronger, healthier communities.

The chapter used its funding to share knowledge and resources on building coalitions with public health professionals and to integrate public health into local and regional planning practices.

Examples of this work include convening a statewide Round Table event, assessing health in planning activities in Wisconsin, developing an online tool and resource matrix for planners, and developing post grant actions.

The Round Table event, held in Madison, Wisconsin, on June 20, 2017, attracted approximately 65 planning, public health, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other professionals. The event focused on partnerships, processes, and policies. Evaluations indicated a positive event.

Another Planners4Health grantee, the Minnesota Planners4Health team, provided a great keynote session and made important connections to the agenda along with sharing its history and experiences with health and planning.

Our task force was pleased with the outcomes of the event and several task force members became aware of new health in planning opportunities, including the state DNR Urban Forestry program.

"Everyone deserves to live in a healthy, vibrant community in which they feel safe and welcomed and where their daily needs can be met. My role as a city planner is to help, in partnership with community, to facilitate, foster, and maintain great neighborhoods while never forgetting that we plan for people, not buildings and infrastructure."
Eric Weiss, AICP, Keynote Speaker

Grant work also includes the development of a tools and resource matrix for planners.

During the assessment portion of the grant, project staff noticed a wide variety of tools and resources available through multiple local, state, and national organizations. This matrix consolidates tools and resources, includes a brief description, provides a link and classifies the tool/resource. It is felt that this helps to eliminate a barrier of learning about health in planning as the user will need to visit only one website.

Finally, the project task force developed a set of post grant actions. These actions are targeted at structural and policy initiatives.

Overall, the grant has been viewed as a success. Multiple planners and health professionals received knowledge and skill building. In addition to the deliverables mentioned above, multi-sector relationships have developed or further improved.

This project takes Wisconsin one step further in the ultimate goal of creating healthy places to live, work, and play.

Top image: Orton Park Festival in Williamson-Marquette neighborhood, Madison, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy Brent Nicastro.

About the Author
Tom Baron, AICP, is an associate planner with the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

July 26, 2018

By Tom Baron, AICP