4-Day Event in Atlanta Focuses on Rx for Healthy Places

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ATLANTA, MAY 19, 2010 -- This week, a national conversation is being convened in Atlanta about topics high on our community’s agendas.

At the 18th national conference of the Congress for the New Urbanism, partners including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, AARP, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Central Atlanta Progress, The Coca-Cola Company and Sustainable Cities Institute of The Home Depot Foundation are coming together around the idea that collaboration can make our communities more economically healthy, sustainable, diverse and livable for people of all ages.

Organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Centers for Disease Control, two leading authorities on improving community design and health, the conference recognizes that the design of the built environment matters. If communities are designed without safe walking, biking and transit connections to nearby jobs, schools, shops and amenities public health and other signs of community vitality suffer. “The principles of New Urbanism make communities more sustainable and healthier whether the challenge is suburban sprawl in the U.S. or Third World communities in crisis,” said Laura Heery, co-chair of the event. “The principles speak to a host of human concerns that need to be addressed whenever we build a home, a neighborhood or an entire community.”

CDC officials such as honorary co-chair Dr. Howard Frumkin note that the creation of walkable, bikable compact communities encourage lifestyles where physical activity becomes a normal part of everyday life. Related benefits include reduced stress and isolation among the elderly, significant cuts in air emissions from shorter and fewer commuting trips, and improved quality of life from the interaction within an engaged community.

The conversations at CNU 18 will focus on discussing proven strategies for addressing issues that will shape our community’s futures: from housing affordability and sustainability to transportation planning in a new era; from water conservation and management to zoning for walkability and mixed use; from greening neighborhoods and downtowns to making them healthy, safe, and accessible for people of all ages.

Innovative collaborations of public health officials, design leaders, government officials, and non-profit, civic and corporate leaders will take place throughout the four-day Congress. Highlights include the Wednesday evening opening plenary featuring musician-author David Byrne and fellow panelists discussing Healthier Circulation: Bicycles, Cities and the Future of Getting Around as well as an address Friday morning from Secretary Shaun Donovan of HUD. Additionally, a Pre-Congress Forum on Wednesday afternoon and an Urban Labs Box Lunch are particularly foregrounding the work of partners converging around common interests — including a vision for sustainable, diverse mixed-use neighborhoods connected regionally by corridors that are walkable, bikable and served by current or future transit service.

Leading Allies and Partners include:

The Coca-Cola Company: The world’s largest beverage company has taken an active role in supporting CNU’s Atlanta Congress, reflecting a shared commitment to building sustainable communities through initiatives that encourage active, healthy living; protect the environment; conserve resources and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Coca-Cola’s shared commitment to building sustainable communities is demonstrated in many ways including through its work to rebuild disaster-struck areas, including the ravaged mango-growing industry in Haiti. Through The Coca-Cola Company’s Haiti Hope Project, which is bringing together a coalition of business, government and civil society partners to create opportunity for 25,000 Haitian mango farmers and their families, the Company has created an Odwalla Haiti Hope Mango Lime-Aid with 100 percent of the profits to be directed to the Project. The new beverage will be served and discussed at a CNU 18 session featuring CNU co-founder Andres Duany, who will chronicle the latest new urbanist recovery efforts in Haiti. CNU welcome packets will come in a Coca-Cola recycled bag, which will also include a Dasani PlantBottle™ - a new plastic bottle made partially from plants. The "PlantBottle™" is fully recyclable, has a lower reliance on a non-renewable resource, and reduces carbon emissions, compared with petroleum-based PET plastic bottles.

The Home Depot Foundation has chosen CNU18 to launch Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI). SCI is a two-part initiate that provides a one-stop shop for cities and sustainability professionals to find vetted best practices from across the country to help them identify, implement and communicate local sustainable practices. The first phase is the website that the Foundation is officially launching this week at CNU and the second is an on-the-ground City Program. The Pilot City Program will fund two cities for a couple of years to work on specific projects and an initiative to further the city’s sustainability goals and objectives.

AARP: With nearly 1 million members in Georgia, this membership organization for individuals over the age of 50 recognizes the importance of community design in providing appropriate and affordable housing and mobility options. Furthermore, it believes that Livable Communities limits isolation among the frail elderly and connects them to essential retail, recreational and supportive services.

The American Cancer Society is supporting the 18th Congress to disseminate research information that many forms of cancer are now determined to be linked to obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Congress for the New Urbanism have chosen CNU18 to launch a new Water Initiative gathering leading national experts to focus on innovation water conservation and urban design strategies. The group has engaged the Commissioner of the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management in discussing this new initiative, as a timely mission to define innovations in addition to recommendations from the Governor’s Water Contingency Task Force and the federal ruling to reduce the drinking water supply to the City of Atlanta.
The United States Green Building Council is following the debut of its newest rating system, LEED for Neighborhood Development, created in partnership with the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council, with a LEED-ND implementation session at CNU 18.

Atlanta Regional Commission, Central Atlanta Progress and the 18th Congress for the New Urbanism have organized Urban Labs to engage 1,000 Congress participants in applying the principles of the Congress for the New Urbanism to specific sites. These sites are within walking distance from the Congress site. A map with a menu of five prototypical projects is in every registrant’s package to view, firsthand, concepts for livable centers and corridors with biking and walking for children to seniors, as well as improving how we handle water, energy and resource management. A mission for the CNU18 Urban Labs is to identify concepts for pilot projects that are relevant to many cities, involve multi-agency collaboration and integrate criteria from the Healthy Community Design Initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) Downtown Atlanta’s nonprofit community development organization. CAP’s Imagine Downtown (http://www.atlantadowntown.com/initiatives/imagine-downtown) initiative echoes many of the CNU priorities having to do with integrating land use planning and transportation planning, creating a broad diversity of residential and commercial choices, and making neighborhoods safe and accessible for the full range of incomes, ages, and physical abilities. As an outcome of Pre-Congress Forums and Urban Labs, CAP will launch a new initiative during the Congress: imagine DOWNTOWN healthy, livable, sustainable.

The Turner Foundation is providing expertise to “imagine DOWNTOWN” and CNU18, from briefings within the Pre-Congress Forum with Laura Turner Seydel and the Urban Labs Session and “Salons” sessions during the Congress. The Turner Foundation, Inc. (TFI), founded in 1990 by R.E. (Ted) Turner, supports efforts for improving air and water quality, developing a sustainable energy future to protect our climate, safeguarding environmental health, maintaining wildlife habitat protection, and developing practices and policies to curb population growth rates.

The Kendeda Fund, a foundation that supports environmental programs nationally, supports Sustainable Atlanta, an ally of imagine DOWNTOWN healthy, livable, sustainable, as well as leading national non-profit expertise in “green” strategies” from Southface, based in Atlanta.

For immediate release: May 19, 2010

For more information on CNU 18, contact Stephen Filmanowicz, CNU Communications Director, 312-927-0979, sfilmanowicz@cnu.org or Ed Van Herik, CNU 18 Local Host Committee and AARP Georgia, 404-797-6128, evanherik@aarp.org