Step into Nature with Marion

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Active Living & Biophilic Design

people running 5K
water feature at lowe park

Step into Nature with Marion: Where Healthy Living is in our DNA!

Step into Nature with Marion is a project that was created by the Linn County Coalition for Planning Healthy Iowa Communities and is being implemented by the City of Marion.  The goal of the Step into Nature Project is to develop an Active Living and Biophilic Design Policy for the City of Marion; and, ultimately create a Toolkit to be used by other Iowa Communities to adopt a similar policy. 

View Marion's Plan

What is Active Living and Biophilic Design:

Active Living is defined as a way of life that integrates physical Activity into daily Routines.  Establishing an Active Living Policy for the City would establish a set of guiding principles that ensure that as our community develops or redevelops certain design accommodations are incorporated to encourage physical activity. 

Biophilia is the concept that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.  Biophilic Design related to City Planning has recently been introduced by University of Virginia Professor, Tim Beatley, and is detailed in his book, “Biophilic Cities”.  Similar to an Active Living Policy, the creation of a Biophilic Design Policy for the City would establish a set of guiding principles that ensures there is a direct connection to nature and the outdoors as the city develops and redevelops.

Why are these important:

This country is facing an obesity epidemic; the prognosis is bad and getting worse.  One in three adults are obese and one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.  Obesity is a severe public health crisis and experts agree that as more and more obese children become adults, the diseases associated with obesity, such as heart disease, cancer and especially diabetes will surge.  Combating obesity is complicated issue; one potential solution is to design communities to encourage active and healthy lifestyles.

Today’s society is more urban, digital and fast-paced than ever before. The downside of this is the overall loss of our connection to nature and the outdoors. Research indicates that biophilic design can increase overall well-being. It has been proven that patients recover quicker with natural (vs. urban) window views and in workplaces with natural scenery and light employees are healthier and take fewer sick days. Studies show that designs that incorporate ecological aspects minimize stress levels, reduce mental fatigue and elevate mood. These strategies can enhance overall health, productivity and learning of residents in a community in addition to having a whole host of positive environmental benefits.  

Project Funding:

Linn County Coalition for Planning Healthy Iowa Communities was awarded $130,000 in 2015; one of 17 grants provided for by the American Planning Association (APA) after a national competitive review process.  Its Plan4Health initiative was created to combat two determinants of chronic disease—lack of physical activity and lack of access to nutritious foods. The City of Marion is developing the Active Living and Biophilic Design Component of the grant and Hawkeye Area Community Action Program is preparing Nutritional Content Manual for local food pantries. 

This page is dedicated to the Active Living and Biophilic Design Components of the grant.

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