Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Movie on Obesity and Two Meetings

You've probably already seen this New Yorker cover.  If you haven't, take a good look at it!  In a nutshell it captures a lot of our schizoid attitudes towards exercise and health and transportation.

Movie:  The Weight of the Nation (and an $800M bridge?)

Next week on Tuesday there's a movie that touches on this!  From the paper:
Marion County will host a viewing of a documentary on America’s obesity epidemic on Tuesday, June 11, at Marion County Public Works, 5155 Silverton Road NE.

The Weight of the Nation screening will include information booths run by health-related organizations, such as Salem Hospital, Kaiser Permanente and Salem Family YMCA.

The evening will start at 5 p.m. with soup and healthy snacks. Beth Hawk, safety and wellness coordinator for Marion County, will deliver a keynote speech. There will be an opportunity for discussions and questions.

Panelists include:

Beth Hawk - Safety & Wellness Coordinator/ Marion County - Panel Host & Monitor
Nancy Baldwin - Health Educator
Dr. Suzanne DeSchamps - Kaiser Permanente Physician
Anita Lesser - Kaiser Permanente Health Coach
Pamela Heilman - Public Health Division Director
Janice Naimy - Sr. Director of Health Innovations YMCA

Much of the talk around obesity is framed as making better individual choices, especially in eating, but not so much about the way our communities are planned and designed to make healthy choices more difficult. Auto-centric communities make walking and biking difficult and costly in time, for example. The choice for moderate exercise should be easy, not seem heroic!

(Is it worth pointing out that the county site on Silverton  Road is for most people effectively in reach only by car?)

So while we talk about spending $800 million on a giant bridge and highway that will make it easier to drive, we don't also talk about the way all that driving creates inducements to a sedentary lifestyle and the problems with diabetes and obesity it entails.  Additionally, we also ignore the way the driving and its emissions contributes to asthma and increased cancer rates.

Salem Health promotes non-healthy and expensive infrastructure
Transportation should also be a public health issue.  Imagine how far $800 million could go if we spent it on public health!


Thursday, June 6th at 3:30 p.m., the Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation will meet at MWVCOG, 100 High St. SE, Suite 200. On the agenda is a presentation by Chris Rall of Transportation for America.  He'll be talking about transportation policy for this century, you know, the 21st century.

MWACT's membership has a lot of overlap with SKATS's membership, and the prevailing transportation philosophy is Eisenhowerian and rooted in the 20th century, with an unshakable commitment to the drive-alone trip. So it will be interesting to see how Rall's talk is received!  We might say "opportunity," but will they say "hokum"?

Downtown Advisory Board

The Downtown Advisory Board also meets Thursday the 6th at noon in the IT Dept. – Kalapuya Conference Room at 295 Church St SE, Ste 201.

On its agenda is an interesting question about Multiple Unit Housing Tax Incentive applications. A couple of years ago Council apparently extended the incentive program out to 2022. (Here's the application form, which doesn't really reveal much.) Basically it's a tax abatement program designed to encourage higher density housing downtown.

Proposed Marquis Care Facility on Boise Site

Proposed Apartments from Carousel Parking Lot
Two developments, the nursing home care facility thingy and apartment complex next to the Carousel, are applying for the incentive.

Hopefully more details will come out about this.  It will have to go before Council, as I understand it, and certainly at that time there will be a staff report.  In the mean time, DAB does not have an information packet and information has been hard to come by.  It's not clear what role DAB has in the process.

From here, on the surface the apartments look totally eligible, but maybe DAB could hold out for a better design before giving the application its blessing?

The nursing home/care facility, on the other hand, does not obviously meet the spirit of the incentive program! - even if it might meet a broad reading of the letter of the law.  Please, please, DAB, don't bless that, at least not right way!  We want to incentivize housing and vitality, and it's hard to see how a care facility on the waterfront meets that.  It should probably be built without the public subsidy, don't you think?


Angela said...

"Is it worth pointing out that the county site on Silverton Road is for most people effectively in reach only by car?)"

Thanks for mentioning this item - it was the first thing I noted.

Jim Scheppke said...

Great post SBOB. Shows how even people whose job it is to care about our health are not thinking straight. Wonder if the buses will still be running when the movie is over?