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Julie Fitzgerald


2013 HEALS Summit

The Metro Public Health Department, in partnership with the Nashville Civic Design Center and community partners held the 4th annual Healthy Eating, Active Living Summit (HEALS) on January 17th at the Downtown Public Library.

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This year’s theme, “Health and the Built Environment,” was chosen in recognition of the fact that the built environment, including all of the human-made resources and infrastructure designed to support human activity, such as buildings, roads, neighborhoods, open space, food outlets, etc. significantly impact Nashville’s health, especially in how individuals access opportunities for healthy eating and active living.

The keynote address was delivered by internationally renowned livable city strategist Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa. Penalosa is the Executive Director of 8 - 80 Cities, a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to transforming cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks, streets and other public places. The 8-80 philosophy is that if you create a city that’s good for an 8 year old and good for an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for everyone.
Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people, regardless of social, economic or ethnic background.  He advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for all: from 8 to 80 years old.  His focus is the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as on sustainable mobility.

As former Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the City of Bogotá, Colombia, Penalosa successfully led the design and development of over 200 parks and initiated the “new Ciclovia”— a program which sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday, and today it’s internationally recognized and emulated.

Penalosa’s speech focused on the need for action to happen right now, not in 30 years. The idea that roads need to be built around pedestrians first, and then cars, was an ongoing theme. It was stated that in order to increase the quality of life, there needs to be adequate sidewalks, effective and efficient mass transit, physically divided bike lanes, as well as bike routes that are connected. The powerful speech encouraged all in attendance to act now to make change happen.

For the second year in a row, NashVitality Awards were presented in the following categories: Pioneer, Leadership, and Innovator. The Innovator Award was presented to the Nashville Civic Design Center for their outstanding, innovative contributions to the promotion of Healthy Community Design Principles. Mark Deutschmann with Village Real Estate won the Pioneer Award, which recognizes significant lifetime contributions and service to Healthy Community Design as it relates to Neighborhood Design and Development. Sandy Bivens from Metro Parks received the Leadership Award. This award recognizes exemplary contribution to Healthy Community Design in Nashville through leadership on major design, infrastructure or policy, systems, or environmental changes. Congratulations to all of the winners.

Alice Randall, author of Ada’s Rules, The Wind Done Gone and The Queen of Shades spoke during lunch. The afternoon panel, titled, “Designing a Healthy City Panel,” highlighted the work of local and regional organizations working to create healthier buildings, healthier streets, healthier neighborhoods and thereby healthier cities. Panel participants included Dianna Stephens from Metro General Services, Jay Everett from Loss & Associates, and Kim Hawkins from Hawkins Partners. Following the HEAL Summit, Nashville Civic Design Center premiered their new interactive exhibit, "Shaping-Building-Becoming: Setting the Tone for a Healthier Nashville," during a reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., in the library atrium.

For more information on the 4TH annual HEAL Summit, please contact Julie Fitzgerald at (615) 880-3337 or