News Release: Making Communities Healthy

CHICAGO — Making communities healthier is a complex challenge. A variety of topics relevant to health — from air quality to social interaction — and scales, the block, neighborhood, or city must be considered. Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Evidence-Based Planning and Design Strategies helps bring healthy places to life in a way that benefits the entire community.

Published by the American Planning Association’s (APA) Planners Press, Creating Healthy Neighborhoods offers a new way of thinking about what makes a healthy place and how to achieve it. The book will benefit planners, designers, and civic leaders, but also public health professionals by elevating the understanding of how others engage with health issues in neighborhoods, and where to concentrate efforts to make a difference.

Creating Healthy Neighborhoods was written by three Harvard scholars — Ann Forsyth, Emily Salomon, and Laura Smead — from a project of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the Health and Places Initiative (HAPI).

Hear the authors discuss how to create healthy places at APA’s National Planning Conference (NPC17) on Saturday, May 6, 2017, 2:30 p.m.

Taking a broad international perspective, Creating Healthy Neighborhoods helps the reader understand research findings, proposes how to make informed decisions in the absence of research, and embeds this all within a health-informed planning process. The book outlines eight principles to help the reader obtain a health viewpoint and understand how to improve places, plans, and projects:

  1. Importance: How does health matter in the community? Determine what health concerns exist, if any, and what could be done to resolve those concerns?
  2. Balance: Understand how change occurs and balance physical changes with other interventions that may appeal to different kinds of people.
  3. Vulnerable: Plan and design for individuals with health vulnerabilities and the fewest resources for making healthy choices.
  4. Layout: Foster multiple dimensions of health through overall neighborhood layout.
  5. Access: Provide options for getting around and increasing geographic access.
  6. Connection: Create opportunities for community members to interact with each other positively.
  7. Protection: Reduce exposure to contaminants or hazards at the source.
  8. Implementation: Coordinate diverse actions over time.

The book also includes 80 practical steps for each principle, identifying whether tactics are directly from research evidence, are informed by research, or are a general good practice.

Creating Healthy Neighborhoods (ISBN: 978-1-61190-191-7) is available through APA in paperback for $24.95 ($15.95 APA member) and e-book formats for $19.99 ($14.99 APA member).

Media review copies are available by contacting Roberta Rewers at

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. For more information, visit

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Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;

March 14, 2017