Live Well Resources

Models & Examples of How Cities Are Taking Action

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in partnership with the Local Government Commission has collaborated to identify specific ways in which state and local governments can take action to create healthier communities. 

Healthy Communities by Design suggests that communities nationwide are recognizing the critical link between our built environments and public health. How well we plan land use, amenities, transportation, economic development, and natural resource protection will have dramatic effects on our communities far into the future. Log on to the Healthy Communities by Design website to find the latest research, analysis, tools, and proven approaches which can be applied to planning projects.

Research - The Rationale For Cities to Take Action

  • Solving Sprawl: Models of Smart Growth in Communities Across America (Island Press, 2001)
    The book details 35 diverse smart-growth stories from around the United States and celebrates those who are leading the way in solving sprawl –state and local officials who have embraced new forms of development, corporations who are choosing to redevelop abandoned city properties rather than build new corporate campuses on undeveloped land, faith-based organizations that have been instrumental in redeveloping inner-city neighborhoods, visionary architects and planners who are showing how to design communities and regions that solve sprawl.
  • Health & Community Design: Impact of Built Environment on Physical Activity (Island Press, 2003)
    This book is a comprehensive examination of how the built environment encourages or discourages physical activity, drawing together insights from a range of research on the relationships between urban form and public health. It provides important information about the factors that influence decisions about physical activity and modes of travel, and about how land use patterns can be changed to help overcome barriers to physical activity.
  • A Joint Urban Planning and Public Health Framework: Contributions to Health Impact Assessment (Am J Public Health 2003; 93:118–121)
    “Our role in this process is to make explicit the links between urban planning and public health in order to gain legitimacy for our joint work, conduct the strongest possible science to better guide effective public policy, and work collaboratively with a broad range of partners conducting both environmental and health impact assessments to better ensure that the overarching goals of equality and democracy are realized in the projects, programs, and policies we approve and undertake.” (Full text available online at:
  • The Promise of Wisconsin's 1999 Comprehensive Planning Law: Land-Use Policy Reforms to Support Active Living (Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 2008; 33(3), 455-496). Schilling, J. & Keyes, S.D. Active Living Research Grant Recipient
    “In 1999, Wisconsin passed the Smart Growth Law, requiring local governments with land use planning authority to design neighborhoods that reflect Smart Growth Principles. These principles, some of which may lead to increased physical activity, include neighborhood designs with a range of transportation choices, the redevelopment of existing land and structures and the utilization of more compact, efficient development patterns. This progressive law makes Wisconsin an ideal setting to study the process of reforming comprehensive plans and zoning codes that promote active living. In this study, the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech will partner with The 1000 Friends of Wisconsin to study both the state wide and local policy change processes. Special attention will be paid to the relationship between state and local governments implementing the change. Researchers will then study implementation of the plans and ordinances in 10 specific localities to assess if they have resulted in development that encourages active living.”

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