The start of the new year always has a powerful buzz of optimism. There’s plenty around us to nudge us in the right positive direction of improving our personal health and happiness. Our community inside and outside our homes can be designed to subconsciously push us into making better choices for ourselves. These nudges are also better for our environment. For example, if you don’t own a tv (or at least reduce the number of tvs in your house), you will have to choose alternatives to spend your time – read, create, interact with family, etc using less energy and resources from our environment. Changing your habits while living in the same structure takes a ton of will power, that most of us do not have. Instead, we can change our homes and communities to help us make better choices.
What has the Dallas area as a whole done to nudge us into healthier choices?
- The walking bridge over Mockingbird station is finally finished. Let’s celebrate this long time coming win. It never should have taken years to build, but, that’s the past now. It’s done. You can now bike from Downtown Dallas to White Rock Lake on trails (minus two strange road intersections). Have you commuted by bike yet?
- DART invested $1.7 million into hiring 30 more security guards to keep our public transportation safer. Fear should not keep us from utilizing sustainable public transportation.
- Grocery stores are moving in to downtown! One of the main essentials missing from living downtown was having to drive out to get groceries. Tom Thumb is moving in across from The Perot Museum and new plans show Royal Blue Grocery is headed to Ervay street in downtown.
- Bike shares allowed to take over our streets. Now four companies offer bikes across our city. There seems to always be a colorful bike within arms distance ready for you to hop on.
Live/work/play neighborhoods are popping up everywhere. The other day I stopped at the new development off of Sylvan and I-30 in amazement. When did all of that happen? There’s large condos/apartments, small grocery store, coffee shop and a few new restaurants including Taco Deli – of course, must have tacos.
In a study done by the Congress for the New Urbanism, “68 percent of Dallas respondents desire to live in a walkable place, while only 4 percent of the supply fits the bill.” Developers are taking notice. Even farther out in DeSoto and north in The Colony small centers that feature housing, restaurants and grocery, and parks are popping up. Now if we could just get all of this connected to one another.
Dallas still emphasizes large houses and extreme size in most of our development, shoot, our slogan is still Dallas BIG. But, there’s a rising push for local entrepreneurs, community building and sustainability. New City Manager, T.C. Broadnax is almost one year on the job and has already done his share of cleaning up the city’s network. Broadnax hails form Tacoma, Washington (with a strong sustainability program!) and says his focus will be on getting knowledgeable people in their subject areas in the right positions. In a quote to D Magazine, Broadnax said, “2018 will shape up to truly be a year of change.” I’m excited!
Our physical surroundings can help us be healthier, happier and more environmentally friendly but so can our personal connections. Studies have found that people who interact socially everyday live longer and report being happier. Combine socializing with a healthy activity and you’re getting a double whammy. After recently reading two books by Dan Buettner talking about his research into longevity and happiness, I decided to take up the author’s suggestion to join a walking group. I got online… and could not find one! What?! There were hiking groups, running groups but nothing about a casual walking group meetup. So, I made one. Come join me at Meetup.com/dallas-walking-meetup for a no stress, with or without dogs, get to know your neighbors and live a better life walk! If you don’t live near me and want help starting your own, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Let the buzz of the new year push our city and ourselves into a more sustainable happier future.