Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Danyaal Raza and Edward Xie write that a well-designed city environment can make all the difference in enabling individuals to live healthy lives:
What if city council took our health into account when designing neighbourhoods? An idea gaining favour in major cities around the world is “complete streets,” a city-planning concept that promotes development of streets usable by all citizens, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or transit users. As things stand now, getting to schools, parks and stores without a car is only a dream for residents without the lush tree cover, dense transit networks and regularly spaced traffic crossings of downtown.

The science is clear: people are more likely to walk to a store if it can be reached within five to 10 minutes, while those who spent more time travelling by car had a greater likelihood of being obese. All it takes, according to a new international study, is an extra 2,000 steps a day — about 20 minutes of walking — to reduce heart attacks and strokes by 8 per cent in people at risk for diabetes. It should be no surprise, then, that building walkable neighbourhoods can discourage sprawl and prevent diabetes and its complications.
Some innovative solutions already exist; in fact, Toronto has been a Canadian leader by creating the Toronto Food Policy Council in 1990 and adopting the bold Toronto Food Charter in 2001. The city already supports the FoodShare organization to bring grocery stands, school meals and inexpensive fresh food via mobile markets to residents who need them.

Still more can be done. A prosperous city is nourished by healthy, productive citizens. We need visionary city planning to remedy these problems with rational zoning, support for community initiatives and a city council that takes health seriously. 
- Meanwhile, Lynn Stuart Paramore argues that a four-day work week can be a plus for both employee well-being and employer outcomes.

- Lydia DePillis discusses how inequality can snowball, as exorbitant wealth drives up the price (and expected returns) from a limited set of positional goods. And Joyce Nelson looks at credit rating agencies as an example of big money seeking to perpetuate itself by imposing policies on everybody else.

- Will Horter wonders whether the Cons' determination to push pipelines and tankers will drive B.C. voters to seek new alternatives.

- Finally, Gerry Caplan sees a basic lack of decency as one of the defining features of the Cons. Which is why we shouldn't be surprised that Therese Casgrain - having fought for such causes as feminism, voting rights and social democracy - is being furiously erased from Canadian history in favour of further Harper hagiography.

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