What do you think of when you hear the word “sustainability”? For me “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has been ingrained into my mind and sustainability sparks ideas of cutting down fossil fuel usage and finding new energy sources like wind or solar energy. Before working with LiveWell Greenville I had neglected to acknowledge two other entirely separate pieces to the puzzle that is sustainability.
LiveWell Greenville (LWG) is a coalition composed of several work groups which focus in several areas in Greenville, from work places to places of worship. LWG brings together different organization and companies within Greenville county to make resources available to those in need. For example, in the case of a food dessert, LWG will work with the community and a local farm and possibly a local market to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to those living in that community.
During my fellowship, I worked on the At Play work group specifically on a program called Park Hop. Park Hop brought the municipality Parks and Recreation Departments together to showcase parks in each city in a scavenger hunt format. Through an app, children were encouraged to visit parks to win prizes as incentives. This encouraged the children to visit parks and begin physical activity early in life.
In addition, I worked on several park assessments with the City of Greenville Parks and Recreation and Safe Routes to Schools. With the City of Greenville Parks and Recreation I helped formulate physical activity recommendations specific to six different parks including routes and a pacing guide. This tool will be useful to others because once they make their way to the marks, it helps them get started from there. With Safe Routes to Schools, I could help assess the route in between parks, schools, and neighborhoods. By accumulating this data we were did two different things. We either created a report to inform the public of the safe route or we compiled the information in a report to pass off to the county planning department to consider when planning for alternate modes of transportation (bicycle lanes and pedestrian access).
While completing my fellowship, I realized how lucky I was as a kid to grow up close to the large parks in my area. While doing park assessments, I was not only assessing the parks themselves, but also the accessibility and walkability of these parks. Through this I was able pinpoint parks which were an unsafe distance or had unsafe routes from neighborhoods if walking was the only tool open to the families. My eyes had suddenly been opened and from then on I was inspired to continue working on this project hopeful for walk/bike friendly changes to the roads.
About a month into my internship which involved several park assessments and community park events, I was unclear as to how the work I and the rest of LWG was doing related to sustainability. After asking Katherine Kransteuber, who has had a history working at the David E. Shi Center, I was suddenly clear as to how LWG was connected to sustainability. She began by explaining how LWG functions on a model called collective impact where LWG works as the backbone organization which holds the coalition of organizations together to ensure that everyone knows of existing programs and resources that are available to the public. Within this structure, LWG uses social sustainability to ensure that these resources are clearly available to all. Their motto is “make the healthy choice the easy choice” and in these work groups they are trying to make things like fresh fruits and vegetables or opportunities for physical activity available to all.