Public Health and The Landscape

Thanks to a Facebook post by Bruce Ward from Choose Outdoors I found an interesting article called "Take a hike and call me in the morning..." in the Washington Post that talks about doctors prescribing outdoor activity as treatment for a variety of ailments. This is not just fluffy news-filler, folks. It is part of a very real trend that recognizes the benefits that parks, greenways, and open space provide in terms of community health and disease prevention. As landscape architects, we have a role to play in the public health movement. Frederick Law Olmsted and others recognized this more than a century ago and devoted themselves to creating places that support the physical, mental, and social well-being of people and communities.

I spent several days last week at Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation meeting with their research faculty and discussing how the GRASP® methodology developed by Design Concepts and GreenPlay LLC can be used to support research aimed at making communities healthier places to live. This is exciting stuff for us, and the interesting thing is that they found us and invited us to the table, meaning that the health and wellness field is aware of what landscape architects can offer and welcomes our contribution to their efforts. I'll let you know in future posts where all of this leads. Meanwhile, ask your doctor about that new park in your neighborhood....

Rob Layton