Transitioning to a Healthier, More Connected Community
The health of our family members and neighbors is another good reason to take strong and immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is going to present health challenges for many living things.
- High humidity on hot summer days makes breathing more difficult for everyone, especially people with asthma, respiratory illnesses and heart conditions.
- Longer growing seasons mean more pollen and more suffering for those with allergies.
- Climate change may increase the number of days we have poor air quality in the Twin Cities.
- Higher temps mean higher water temperatures in our lakes and streams, which hurts water quality and effects aquatic life.
Interestingly, many of the actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint … or to work together with others in the process of Transition … can also improve our physical and mental health, and the health of our community
A Cascade of Positive Change
Let’s say you choose to walk or bike to work to reduce your car driving. That exercise is going to improve your health. More and more people join you on the road and city officials begin to notice, and look for ways to make city streets safer for people like you, and when the streets get safer, even more people like you begin to walk and bike.
Maybe you choose to take the bus or light rail instead. You’ll find you are walking more just to get to the bus stop or train station, and that improves your health. Now you’ve set an example for your friends and family that using mass transit is okay to do. Some of them make the switch. Improved ridership brings more money into the transit system, which leads to service improvements, making it possible for even more people to use mass transit!
Every community is going to face health concerns – some similar and some unique - and they will choose to tackle the issues in different ways. Here are a few things a Transition group might do to have a direct or indirect influence on the health of their community.
Study the environmental challenges your community faces and learn how people are impacted. Work with and challenge your city council members, county commissioners, public health officials and others to begin to address the problems.
- Offer or take a first aid class as a group
- Do group cooking to learn and practice healthy cooking skills
- Teach adults to bike or help people learn how to plan bike trips
- Offer bike tune-ups for adults or kids
- Teach gardening skills so people can begin to grow their own healthy food
Shared Activities to Connect People to People and to Health
- Start a neighborhood walking group or a yoga group
- Offer a bike fix-it clinic where people can learn and meet
- Create fun social opportunities where people can meet their neighbors and connect one-to-one
Partnerships for Action
Connect with a local clinic, a local church, a local park, a bike shop… lots of organizations may be interested in partnering with you on fun and healthy activities. Partnerships can also help people connect with those in their community they may not have met before.
The health impacts of a changing climate will be felt first and most by those whose health is already compromised. These are often people who face the biggest financial challenges as well. When we work to protect the most vulnerable in our community, we’re working on justice issues.
Environmental Health Resources
Minnesota Department of Health
Where to Find Environmental Information
- MN Pollution Control Agency “What’s happening with the environment in your neighborhood?”
- CEED Twin Cities Environmental Justice Mapping Tool
- Air quality in the Twin Cities
- Water quality
- U of M Resources on water quality