"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Proves Smart People Live in this Country After All

Check it out !

Smart Growth Walking Community

So I am sitting in my college's health services today, and since they are exceedingly inconsiderate of your time, I had the extreme pleasure of waiting an hour to see the NP, after my set up appointment time. My time was 3:45, and I was seen at 5. So, more than an hour. Complete monkey business.

Anyway, being that I was too lazy to get off the couch and read a magazine, I resorted to watching the same TV reel of "news in the health" on the "Healthy TV". OK, the TV is not healthy. It just plays clips of these "newscasters" that delve into health issues plaguing America. Since the majority of the school is not a nursing major, they cater these programs to non-medical students, so naturally they are easier to understand, and more annoying. However, this one program came on that interested me very much.

It first began to talk about how, in a certain community in the mid-west (somewhere near Chicago), many of the residents were being plagued with heart disease, diabetes, etc. But it was nearly all of  them, an extremely high percentage. So these health profession epidemiologists set out to travel to this time to see what the heck was going on in this town. Well, surprisingly what they found was that these residents did not have a simple grocery store near them for a 45 minute drive-radius! This seemed unfathomable to me, as there are....at least five within a five minute drive from my school (2 shoprites, a Stop & Shop, Wegmans, and a super walmart), and by my house there is a shoprite and a stop & shop literally right across from each other on opposite sides of a minor highway. Like, people walk to and from each. So, it seemed CRAZY that people in a community would have to drive so far for something I see as simple as a grocery store. One of my girlfriends lives in a very rural part of NJ, up north. I know for a fact she drives 20 minutes to get to her A&P, and 50 minutes for a Wegmans. So, I guess I knew that it was out there....but a 45 minute trip to get groceries? Every time?

Resulting, the people in this community don't make that trip often. Some of them don't have the resources to make that trip (a car, gas for the car..money to shop in a grocery store in general...). So what ends up happening is they shop at local liquor stores for drinks, convenience stores for vegetables in cans, and oh- GUESS WHAT. THis study found SEVEN fast food restaurants within that same 45 minute radius, all closer than any grocery store. IMAGINE THAT.

So, you can just guess what these people are eating. No wonder why these people have horrible health status.

So, the city was working on convincing supermarkets to move in closer. I guess the supermarket industry felt they couldn't survive there. Sad. What this program proved, is that supermarket sells produce, fresh fruits, veggies, fresher foods on shelves, healthier and a broader set of options...which leads to healthier people. So that's good.

The program then led to a new but similar segment discussing something new they are coining a "smart community" or a "walking community". What they are doing is setting up communities across the country that make it possible for families to live in a community where they can realistically live, grocery shop, exercise together, leisure shop, read in a library, go to school, church, etc. Everything is fairly walkable too. Resulting, I am not sure how many people they could fit in such a community as all the things listed above makes for a large space already. So I'm not sure how its actually working. And its probably pretty expensive to live in, especially if there are limited spaces. However, we are on to a very smart idea! I am definitely intrigued!

The website above leads you to demonstrate more on what I am talking about. But this is truly fantastic. Not only are you providing community residents healthy food, but you are encouraging them to walk everywhere AND providing actual exercise space! Because we all know exercising is more fun if you can do it with everyone you love! (Rather than driving to a cold gym in which you are self conscious and know no-one). So, yay! Just imagine, you could have a track...an Olympic pool, a tennis court set, volleyball....a baseball field? A skating rink for skateboarders?   Am I dreaming too big?  Think about it. It would get your KIDS out and about, you could let your kids out without constantly worrying where they are.

In my neighborhood, walking is accepted and encouraged. But what fun is walking if you just walk in a circle with no actual purpose other than to walk?  I would never ever, ever, try to walk to even the nearest convenience store, let alone school or church or a grocery store. I wouldn't even BIKE there. In these communities, they don't walk in circles. They have purpose. They get their exercise in without even realizing it!

So, what do you guys think about these smart communities? How close of a drive is your nearest supermarket? I would really like to know more!

~A Writer in a Nurse's Body

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