One of the priorities of our City Council is a concept called “15 Minute City”. This planning principle is gaining global traction for good reason. While it may have different contexts in towns around the world there are common themes and many shared benefits for people. Reading this article reminded me of one of the most important challenges we face today which is our physical, mental and emotional health not only as individuals but also as a society. In a time of increasing isolation and polarization, we need to build communities that bring us together and give us direct access to the most important things in our lives - not the least of which is opportunity for healthy living. From the article:
When it comes to health's "magic pill,” Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of the Toronto-based planning non-profit 8 80 Cities points to active transportation "The answer is getting around by walking, crutches, wheelchair — I don't care how you move, but you need to move about in ways other than using a car. It's also very crucial to mental health,'' he says.
Our office is in downtown Fort Collins in a wonderful Colorado State University building that is an international energy research institute called The Powerhouse. While I must drive to the office because of where we currently live my daily walks through downtown Fort Collins are the most enjoyable part of my day. In a brisk 45 minute stroll through downtown I experience historic architecture, 150 years of town building struggles and successes, high quality shops of all kinds and of course, the people. All ages and backgrounds gathering and connecting with 1000 different life stories every single day. It’s wonderfully alive and invigorating. I can’t wait for the next day’s walk.
How does that translate to our responsibility in NEFC? Directly is the answer to that question. Our responsibility is to enable the coming generations to live in a place that does not require a car yet provides ample opportunity for “active mobility”. Walking, running, biking, in a wheelchair or on crutches at every age…..just get moving! Going to school, playing soccer, biking to the grocery store with the evening shopping list, meeting your friends at the park or church, a grandmother watching her grandkids so parents can enjoy a night out or maybe have time to concentrate on important work, getting exercise in beautifully designed community with wonderful architecture and thoughtful planning, not to mention the substantial environmental benefits of living life locally. These are a beautiful and very real glimpse of the 15 Minute City.
Northeast Fort Collins is under construction and continuing a process of transition. Hundreds of new homes are underway and many more on the horizon before Montava has even begun. While we continue through the important and difficult path prior to our own construction we are keeping an eye every day on what will make NEFC an amazing place to live a healthy life.
Many generations from now the residents of this special part of Fort Collins won’t know the struggles it took to create this community, but they will love and enjoy the outcome. That is our hope and our daily motivation.