Good housing. Easy transit. Food access. Green spaces. Gathering places. Everybody wants to live in a healthy neighborhood. But creating one is more than a walk in the park. There’s so much to learn and so much to do. It’s hard to know where to begin.
Creating Healthy Neighborhoods shows the path to places designed for living well. Three Harvard scholars — Ann Forsyth, Emily Salomon, and Laura Smead — bridge the gap between research and practice. Together, they map out ways for cities and towns to help their residents thrive.
This practical guide approaches health from every side — physical, mental, and social. Eight overarching principles run the gamut from balance and connection to access and mobility. Twenty propositions suggest paths to explore in each of those areas, while 80 concrete actions lay out steps communities can take to get started.
A solid research base makes the book ideal for planners, designers, public health professionals, and course adoption. Its direct style, real-world illustrations, and helpful glossary open it up to civic leaders, social activists, and engaged citizens. Creating Healthy Neighborhoods is a must-read for everyone who wants to make fit places to live.
About the Authors
Ann Forsyth is a professor of urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Emily Salomon formerly with the Health and Places Initiative, is associate housing planner in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Laura Smead, also formerly with the Health and Places Initiative, is town planner for Canton, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
Introduction: Toward Healthy Neighborhoods
Principle 1. Importance: Assess how health matters in this place
Proposition 1: Figure out if there are good reasons for considering health
Proposition 2: Identify an initial list of neighborhood-relevant health issues
Proposition 3: Figure out if anyone else cares
Principle 2. Balance: Make healthier places by balancing physical changes with other interventions to appeal to different kinds of people
Proposition 4: Understand that tradeoffs are inherent in planning for health at all scales and this is true of neighborhoods as well
Proposition 5: Appreciate that there is no ideal size for a healthy community, but different dimensions of health relate to different scales
Principle 3. Vulnerability: Plan and design for those with the most health vulnerabilities and fewest resources for making healthy choices
Proposition 6: Create a variety of housing options to promote housing choices within the neighborhood
Proposition 7: Integrate universal design principles into neighborhood planning and design
Proposition 8: Increase choice, access, and exposure to high quality, diverse, and healthy food options, especially in low-income areas
Principle 4. Layout: Foster multiple dimensions of health through overall neighborhood layout
Proposition 9: Create mixed use neighborhoods with a balance of activities that support good health
Proposition 10: Provide enough density of population to support services for a healthy lifestyle
Proposition 11: Create a connected, "healthier" travel circulation pattern for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users — the vehicular pattern can be different
Proposition 12: Increase access to a variety of locally relevant recreational facilities and green spaces
Principle 5. Access: Provide options for getting around and increasing geographic access
Proposition 13: Coordinate land-use planning and urban design with transit to increase efficiency, access, and mobility
Proposition 14: Adopt policies and planning practices to create safe neighborhood transportation options for all types of road users
Proposition 15: Ensure adequate pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure and amenities
Principle 6. Connection: Create opportunities for people to interact with each other in positive ways
Proposition 16: Create publicly accessible neighborhood spaces, programs, and events to support healthy interactions and behaviors
Proposition 17: Design the public realm to reduce street crime and fear of crime
Principle 7. Protection: Reduce harmful exposures at a neighborhood level through a combination of wider policies and regulations along with local actions
Proposition 18: Reduce pollutants and chemicals at the source and separate people from toxins through buffers, technology, or design
Proposition 19: Separate people and infrastructure from areas vulnerable to natural disasters and build in resilience through technology or design
Proposition 20: Reduce unwanted local noise exposure at the source, and separate people from noise through buffers, technology, or design
Principle 8. Implementation: Coordinate diverse actions over time
Appendix A: Actions Checklist
Appendix B: Health Topics Addressed by Section