August 13, 2013

Active Towns Blog #4

A Culture of Activity

As I write this blog entry I am once again in Boulder and have just finished up a wonderful Colorado stay-cation with my sweetheart Laura. We both had the opportunity to recently participate in the Ironman 70.3 Boulder triathlon, a very popular race with locals and out of town visitors alike.


Photo: Ironman 70.3 Boulder – August 4, 2013

This event, just one of many in Boulder, serves as a tangible manifestation of the active and one could even say, athletic culture which has developed over the decades in this historic college town on the Colorado Front Range.

However, whenever I venture into an Active Town such as Boulder, I realize it’s not just the athletes that catch my eye. Everyone seems to be in on it: kids going for a bike ride or running about in packs with their posse or heck even with their parents; there’s that couple pausing at the multi-use pathway intersection for the diverse stream of human propelled traffic to pass as they carry their kayaks down to the creek; I recall the two middle aged men I saw at the reservoir taking a stand up paddle (SUP) lesson a couple days ago; and I can’t forget the three or four women I recently caught a glimpse of in the canyon learning the basics of rock climbing. Wow!


Photo: A Steamboat Springs Colorado Posse on the Prowl

There’s a palpable physical energy and vibrancy to these places. All ages and abilities are well represented and visible as they move to what seems to be a perpetual rhythm.

The reasons for being physically active appear to be just as diverse as the very people engaged in the various forms of movement. Clearly some are motivated by health and wellbeing, others by fun and recreation, while still others by a broader more noble sensibility that engaging in active transportation can be good for the environment. Hey, it’s all good.


Photo: Boulder bike culture, reason to smile, July 2013

But what I am perhaps most impressed with when I experience an Active Town is just how much fun everyone seems to be having. Smiles abound and there is a sense that residents and visitors alike are truly enjoying themselves. Is this really allowed in our society in this day and age?

I believe herein lies the intersection of a Culture of Activity and the perception of a High Quality of Life with respect to place. I find these established and emerging Active Towns to be highly desirable and apparently many other people do as well.

Culture is a funny thing though. I can think of places that are known for certain things such as great music, wonderful cuisine and terrific theater. I realize that the process by which these trends are formed are varied and complex.

I am convinced though that a community: any village, town or city can create a culture of activity that has a unique flare all their own.

In the next few posts I will explore this process of transformation in detail and highlight some specific examples that I have discovered while visiting Active Towns across the country.

I’m delighted to have you along on this journey.

Please feel free to give us your comments and/or suggestions for emerging and established Active Towns on our websiteFacebook page or by email to:

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Thank you for helping create and support Active Towns everywhere!

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John D Simmerman, MS
Co-Founder, President & CEO
Advocates for Healthy Communities, Inc.
Active Towns Initiative