This past weekend saw the national professional organization for design, AIGA, hold a workshop in Birmingham (one of three nationwide) as part of their Design for Good initiative. Joined by local partners such as Alabama Engine and UAB’s Edge of Chaos, community stakeholders and local designers (including your author) shared an intense 2-day brainstorming session revolving around issues of public health, a major concern in our region. The specific topics were supporting the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System, and encouraging better food choices among vulnerable populations in the metro area. Exercise and better eating: how do we get more of each in our area?
It’s easy to visualize how the Red Rock system can transform how we use our neighborhoods, travel between them, and get a little physical activity. Above is one proposed portion of the system (Village Creek Corridor) that passes along Avenue W in Pratt City. Why choose walking or biking over a car when there is no sidewalk, bike lane, or mileage/directional signage? The plan takes care of that.
Because of a recent federal TIGER grant the City won recently, part of the trail will be completed soon; it will link into other future portions such as the improvements shown above leading from the City Center up to Vulcan Park. Pepsico, as part of its initiative to make its brands healthier and to encourage wellness among its customer base, helped sponsor this design summit as well as the other two in New York City and Seattle. Why Birmingham, you may ask? We, and the state generally, have terrible statistics for obesity, hypertension, heart issues, diabetes, etc. If we can turn things around here, we can do it anywhere. Thanks to the sponsors for putting this event together–and everybody, please support the Red Rock system in your own community and across the metro. It not only could transform our health, but the entire concept of moving around Jefferson County.
Who knows: someday soon, we will bike safely from Vulcan Park to Pratt City (or even jog, as the gentleman in the renderings above demonstrates). We’re ready!