On September 9, You Can Make Your Community Safer for People Walking and on Bicycles

by Robin LeBlanc | Aug 26th, 2014 | Leave a comment

A note from our colleague Nik Coates, who works on Active Transportation issues at HEAL (Healthy Eating Active LIving) NH:

HEAL NH will hold its fourth Active Transportation Training Series session called, “How to Make Local Projects Safer and More Accessible for Pedestrians and Bicyclists.” It is with great enthusiasm that we offer this session to local municipal volunteers, planners, public works officials, engineers, public health advocates and others!

The session is free and open to the public, so please feel free to share this [information} with others. But please note that pre-registration is required because seats are limited. It will be September 9, 9am-noon,  at the HEAL office (Conference Room 6) located at 125 Airport Road, Concord (https://goo.gl/maps/oVugF). Free lunch will be provided from the Works Bakery Café at 11:30am and there will be optional networking until 12:30pm to allow for attendees to learn more from presenters and each other.

Please RSVP (and direct any questions) to Nik Coates at [email protected] or 415-4263. If you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies, please let us know.

Headlining the session will be Amy Lovisek, Assistant Recreation and Facilities Director for the City of Laconia; Nate Miller, Executive Director of the Upper Valley-Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission; and Mike Vignale, Engineer and Principal of KV Partners.

Amy successfully worked with Public Works staff from her city to improve an unsafe intersection leading into a park that was being renovated. An inspiring case study of her work is attached to this email. Nate has been a statewide leader in finding solutions to bicycle and pedestrian safety issues for rural communities working the NH Department of Transportation. Mike provides engineering support to municipalities around New Hampshire with emphasis on elegant and functional designs for people walking and on bikes. Attached are pictures of two projects (Bristol and Pemboke) Mike designed and oversaw that have led to more children walking and bicycling to school and safer neighborhoods.

The agenda is still being finalized, but here is the near-final version:

  •  Mike Vignale – Presentation focusing on what was done to make Pembroke and Bristol projects more safe and accessible, how they were done, and what attendees should know to accomplish this work in their communities. Followed by Q&A with Mike.
  • Nate Miller – Presentation focusing on what can be done in rural communities to make them safer for people on bikes and walking and how to work with local officials and NHDOT through the process. Followed by Q&A with Mike.
  • Amy Lovisek – Presentation focusing on how and why Amy and the HEAL coalition worked with Laconia’s Public Works department to improve Wyatt Park and access to it. Followed by Q&A with Mike.

By the end of the session, attendees will:

  • Have a basic understanding of what makes for safer and more accessible design for active transportation.
  • Know how to work with your regional planning commission on active transportation projects.
  • Know how to work with public works staff on active transportation projects.
  • Know how to educate the public and officials in decision-making about bicycle and pedestrian issues.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon, and seeing you on the 9th!

– Nik

Nicholas J. Coates (Nik)

Active Living Coordinator, HEAL NH

Foundation for Healthy Communities

125 Airport Road

Concord, NH 03301


[email protected]


New Hampshire’s Food Strategy

by Robin LeBlanc | Aug 26th, 2014 | Leave a comment

We had the good fortune to attend a very interesting conversation last week – one of 10 that will be held around the state.  The focus was/is the food system here in the Granite State. There were over 50 people in the room, including farmers, nutritionists, educators, restaurant folks, nonprofits and more.


  • a food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population:  growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption and disposal of food and food-related items.  It also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each of these steps.  A food system operates within and is influenced by social, political, economic and environmental contexts.  It also requires human resources that provide labor, research and education. (from the program handout)
  • The NH Food Strategy is an initiative to develop a strong and connected network of organizations, institutions, agencies, businesses and individuals that contribute to the NH food systems.

The purpose of the statewide conversations is to identify goals, key leverage points and action priorities that together will form strategies to achieve a food system that works for everyone in New Hampshire.

Quite frankly, it has been only in the past few years that we have become aware of the serious issues around food – and that New Hampshire has some sobering statistics, such as (and these are just a few):

  • There were 60 groundfish fishing vessels in NH in 2000.  Now there are 14.
  • 9.9% of NH households are classified as food insecure – ie, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  And 38% of this population are children.  In 2013, 8.5 MILION pounds of food went to food agencies in NH.
  • As of 2012, over 50% of farmers had a second job to help make ends meet – so as much as farmers would like to focus on growing good, healthy food, it is not always economically feasible
  • Not everyone has access to healthy food choices (like fresh vegetables or meats or non-packaged food) – some places are too rural and others live in neighborhoods with only convenience stores.  Remember, not everyone has transportation to larger grocery stores or farmers’ markets.
  • Without healthy food choices, obesity rates go up (doubled in last 15 years)  and diabetes is more common (9% of NH residents as of 2012)

There are many, many individuals and organizations that care deeply about this, and are working in their own ways to address it and related issues within their own communities.  However, what is needed is an overarching strategy, along with collaboration and cooperation, to figure out how to meet the challenges of economics and education (which now there is a lack of) to support a statewide effort.

For more information about this, go to http://nhfoodstrategy.weebly.com.  Click on the NH Regional Gatherings tab for an upcoming conversation in your region.