Video: Innovation and Opportunities to Transform San Antonio
One of the more provocative speakers, David Rusk, noted urban planner and former mayor of Albuquerque, N.M., who said San Antonio had one of the nation's highest levels of economic and social segregation.
Rusk said the city is well positioned to continue its emergence as a growing and vibrant city but that it's held back because 84 percent of students at the San Antonio Independent School District, the largest in the city, are economically disadvantaged.
"The challenge is for San Antonio to have greater ethnic economic diversity," said Rusk. "You have to build on the history and tradition that makes San Antonio different...Housing policy is essential to education policy."
NOWCastSA.com will resume the live webcast with the closing session at 4:15, which is to include a wrap up by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
The meeting is co-sponsored by the City of San Antonio and the Urban Land Institute and has the theme of "Transforming the Center City through Collaborative Efforts."
Issues on the list will be discussed in 16 sessions, workshops and panels and include topics such as affordable housing, the challenges of mixed-incomes, improving transportation and promoting healthy living in neighborhoods and workplaces.
"This ULI-City of San Antonio partnership is exactly the type of public/private forum needed to facilitate the open exchange of ideas, information, and experience among local and national industry leaders and policy makers," says David Adelman, Chair, ULI San Antonio Executive Committee.
Much of this effort centers on the health challenges confronting San Antonio, where rates of obesity and diabetes are among the nation’s highest.
Thanks to a $360,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has launched a Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiative to promote good nutrition and exercise in poorer neighborhoods - a program high on the city's agenda.
The health initiative is geared to help expand residential use of school gyms, playgrounds and other facilities outside of regular hours as well as improvements in neighborhood street and sidewalks to make them more amenable to families for biking, jogging and walking.
The first stage of the effort focuses on the city’s West Side, consisting of about 106,000 largely working class Hispanic and lower-income families, a third of whom live below federal poverty level and where unemployment and educational achievement is lower.
Another aspect of these efforts is to work with local restaurants to provide healthy food and beverage guidelines, with potential incentives to recruit participants and encourage the guidelines’ adoption.
The hope is that by increasing options for physical activity and availability of nutritious food, there will be grassroots and political support for policy changes to promote healthy eating and active living. If these interventions are succesful on the West Side, they could be expanded across San Antonio, city officials say.
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