John Simmerman: Building Active Towns

Strong Towns member John Simmerman cares deeply about community health and wellbeing, and founded the organization Active Towns to help cities think about and create more opportunities for physical activity within neighborhoods.

But he wasn’t always an activist. For much of his career, John was in charge of developing wellness programs and fitness centers for large corporations. He brings that insight and experience into his Active Towns work today, creating podcasts, articles, and videos—plus speaking around the world about making cities more walkable, bikeable, and generally active.

At Strong Towns, our focus is on building financial resilience in communities across North America, and many of the practices which build this financial health also result in healthier people: things like sidewalks that allow people to enjoyably and safely walk to a store or restaurant, beautiful parks that provide a place for people to be outside and also raise property values around them, bike paths that attract visitors and provide an easy route to work for residents…and so on.

John uses the term “activity assets” to describe all of these things and anything else that helps someone be physically active in their place. Listen to this episode of our Bottom-Up Revolution podcast, hosted by Rachel Quednau, and then keep an eye out for the activity assets in your own community. What does your town have going for it? And where could it do better? John Simmerman inspires valuable thought on how to build more active towns.

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