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Annual Conference - Keynote Address


Historic Communities, Healthy Communities
R. Mark Fenton

Public Health, Planning, and Transportation Consultant

Over the past century, reckless development and poorly planned buildings have contributed to the nation’s worsening health by decreasing opportunities for routine physical activity. Across the country, public health agencies are attributing chronic disease risk to automobile-centered community design.

Fortunately, there is a growing focus on creating more walkable and livable settings. New thinking on community design acknowledges that historic community infrastructure and traditional neighborhood design are often conducive to healthier lifestyles. Local and state health agencies and advocates are natural allies of historic preservation. This presentation will explore a different perspective on the nation’s epidemic of physical inactivity and how we can create communities that provide the triple bottom line: economic, environmental, and public health.

R. Mark Fenton is one of the country’s foremost experts on healthy community design. Combining a public health perspective with engineering expertise, he provides innovative program, design, and policy solutions to create more walkable, bikable, and transit-friendly places. His projects include neighborhood traffic calming plans, health and sustainability initiatives, Safe Routes to School workshops, and walkable community presentations for clients from New England to Hawaii. Mark has written several books including the best-selling Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness (2008) and published numerous research articles related to exercise science, physical activity promotion, and community planning. In his hometown of Scituate, Massachusetts, you will find him walking, bicycling, and always advocating for public health in the built environment.

Mr. Fenton received his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Keynote Address is sponsored by Roger Williams University.