How to make the most of your carfree Healthy Block this summer
The saying better late than never definitely applies to PBOT’s new Healthy Blocks program.
During the pandemic, PBOT prioritized business permits for outdoor dining and paused popular programs like block parties, street paintings, Sunday Parkways and Play Streets.
Now PBOT has reimagined their permit process for street closures and has made it easier for Portlanders to open up streets to support active and social neighborhoods. As a physical education teacher who’s worked on many open streets projects over the years, I’m very excited for this and hope many of you take advantage of these permits.
Here are some ideas to jumpstart your Healthy Block.Build a cardboard box village: While purchasing expensive building materials like Imagination Playground is a fun option, there are more low-cost ways to get building. Save those shipping boxes before being recycled can you’ll have the building blocks of a great activity that will get creativity and collaboration skills flowing. Create a workout group: Working out with your community can be one of the best ways to stay active when you don’t want to go to the gym. Imagine a Zumba session or yoga class in the street or in front of your house. By keeping physical activity local you are making it one step easier for yourself to show up and get the benefits of physical activity.
One minor quibble with PBOT’s Healthy Blocks program: There’s no funding. Asking people to volunteer their time and resources to get a permit and set up their own activities is not an equitable approach. PBOT has given their Healthy Business program a financial subsidy and it would be great if they could help Portlanders offset the costs of making more open streets come alive.
By opening our streets to more than the storage and movement of cars, we can show our children that we are not limited by what is around us. Using street space as a canvas for supporting local physical activity, building community and fostering connections lost during the pandemic will benefit all of us as we move forward!
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