By Mayor Zach Vruwink
The City of Wisconsin Rapids was given the honor this past Monday of hosting a gathering of public and non-government officials from across the State, focused on a vision closely aligned with our own: nurturing a healthy community in which residents today and in future generations can thrive and prosper.
As the newest member of the Green Tier Legacy Communities Charter, it meant a lot for Wisconsin Rapids to be the site for this quarterly meeting.
The Charter brings together Wisconsin communities, nonprofit organizations and State of Wisconsin agencies in a partnership that provides participating communities technical assistance for developing and implementing sustainability measures, and acts as a single point of contact for communities to share success stories and best practices. By collaborating, participants are able to move further and faster toward their sustainability goals. Other nongovernmental partners also provide technical assistance.
Wisconsin Rapids Community Development Director Adam Tegen and I shared how our Downtown Revitalization and Riverfront Redevelopment initiatives contribute to wellness as we plan to enhance and create trails for walking, running and other activities. Our partners from the Healthy People Wood County Initiative and forming Healthy Living Hub, a regional collaborative focused one health outcome- childhood obesity, shared how our community is coming together in new ways to improve health and sustainability.
After an overview of health issues in the State of Wisconsin, attendees then considered the concept of “Health in All Policies” (HIAP) – discovering the practical ways some local governments have incorporated community health into the way they create and execute policies; determining what HIAP could mean for establishing local priorities; and envisioning how we can apply the HIAP framework to our current projects.
By emphasizing achievable benchmarks and raising public awareness, the Green Tier Legacy Communities program parallels our City’s efforts to advance the concept of sustainability. This undertaking goes beyond the traditional focus on environmental issues, important as these certainly are. Sustainability also encompasses who we are and what we represent as a community that is devoted to the well being of all those who may live, work and visit here.
Beyond the aforementioned partnerships and development initiatives, our local results are evidenced in a number of ways:
- New recreational trails and bike lanes that inspire fitness and exercise; and
- Adoption of single-stream recycling collection that promotes safe and efficient disposal of recyclable materials, diverting more product from landfills.
The Green Tier Legacy Communities program offers us an exciting opportunity to continue pursuing sustainable quality-of-life outcomes both locally and in collaboration with other communities, and help accelerate our transformation into a preferred destination for prospective employers, workers and tourists.
For more information, please visit https://zachvruwink.wordpress.com/