What can we in the outdoor and tourism industries actually do to help promote population health? Let’s move beyond a personal New Year’s Resolution and find some ways to make a difference for everyone in our community.
We'd also like to invite you to join our CMO, Mark McKnight, and a panel of healthcare experts at the OIA Industry Lunch entitled "Doctor's Orders: Get Outside," taking place at 11:30am on Tuesday January 10th at Outdoor Retailer next week in Salt Lake City. There's also a BrandLive signup if you want to watch live from home, or don't have time to join us at the show. More details available on OIA's site.
For more information, visit https://podcast.rootsrated.com.
Hosts: Mark McKnight and Ana Connery
Producer: BJ Smith
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BJ: If you're interested in how population health connects to the outdoor industry, set aside some time to join us for the Outdoor Industry Association launcher. Call doctor orders, get outside, taking place taking place at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, January 10th, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mark: I'm really excited about this panel. We're gonna have a discussion about population health and what the outdoor industry can do to get involved. We Have OIA's Government Affairs Manager, Jessica Wahl, who's gonna be moderating and we'll have a panel with a variety of experts. Stacy Bare, who's the director of the Sierra Club Outdoors. Yours truly, I'm the CMO and co-founder here at RootsRated. We'll have Christine Fanning, who's the executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. And Bruce Lee, this guy is a rockstar in the space. I really don't know how he gets it all done but he's associate professor of international health at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He's also the executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins. And he even understands the financial side of this issue as well. He's an associate professor at the business school there at Johns Hopkins. And also, he's a regular contributor to Forbes magazine.
So I'll link to the panel information in the show notes, which includes a brand live page where you can actually sign up and watch from your office if you're not attending the OR Show or if you don't have time to join us at lunch, just go to podcast.rootsrated.com and click into the show notes for episode 4. Now, onto today's show.
So Evan, over here, is putting on...it looks kind of like a watch or one of these fitness trackers, I guess.
Evan: Yes, this is the armband that tracks the sweat response, your heart rate...kind of looks like a Fitbit, to be honest. It's got like a nice, long screen face. It clips around, real sleek design. It's a lot of metal components to it, so it's pretty cold.
Mark: So Evan, what does this feel like on your head?
Evan: I got a funny shaped head, so it kind of...it's a little wet.
Mark: What's this little drone looking thing right here?
Evan: I've actually not used that yet.
Drew: That's the EEG reader right there. That's where we connect to the app's Bluetooth. So this is really what's new about it, is the fact that it's Bluetooth. They've been doing EEG research since the '50s and they've been doing it in a lab with...they would have maybe 50 sensors and cords coming out of every sensor into a computer, and you had to be very careful not to move. Everything was done via video or pictures. So there's been a lot of research actually that shows that just looking at pictures of natural environments puts you in a more meditative state. So now, we can actually go out, out of the lab and into the field, and start testing people, you know, as they're actually going through the process.
Mark: BJ, recently, I had a conversation with Evan Castellano, one of our employees here at RootsRated, and he was telling me about this experiment where his college professor had hooked him up with a bunch of sensors and he had all these wires everywhere. And he had him participate in outdoor activities like climbing and hiking.
So welcome to RootsRated Labs.
BJ: Where we explore the intersection of travel and the outdoors. I'm BJ Smith, producer of this show, and I'm standing in for Ana Connery today.
Mark: And I'm Mark McKnight. Thanks for being on the show, BJ. We actually let Ana off the hook for this episode, so she can take a little bit of time to visit so she can take a little bit of time to visit with family over the holidays.
BJ: While the rest of us work.
Mark: Exactly. So we hope all of our listeners had a happy new year, and that you all had a chance to take a breath and have some time to get outside with family over the holidays. I certainly had a great time with my family. And BJ, you said you did as well.
Mark: So this is a time when people really start to make resolutions and there's sometime powerful about the idea of a fresh start and a new year. And often times, many of us make health-related resolutions.
BJ: So since this is our first podcast of 2017, we thought it would be fun to explore the idea of population health. Increasingly, the healthcare community, insurers, parents, everyone seems to be concerned finally with the health of our entire community. Today, we ask, what can we in the outdoor and tourism industries actually do to help promote population health? Let's move beyond a personal New Year's resolution and find some ways to make a difference for everyone in our community.
Mark: We'll start with some of the science behind outdoor activity, and later, we'll hear from a group working on real-world solutions.
Drew: I'm Drew Bailey, I'm Assistant Professor of Health and Human Performance.
Mark: Drew is Evan's professor, who you've heard in the intro, and I actually met him in my previous live at Rock/Creek. When I first met Drew, he was working on quantifying the economic impact on tourism, driven by an ultra-marathon event that we produced called The Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K. Marketers love data and love measuring the impact we can have on people's behavior. So I was excited to have him out at the race to gather all that data. And he's actually even published research quantifying the economic impact of Chattanooga's climbing areas. So at the local level, Drew's producing the kind of data that we need to influence public policy and argue for investments in outdoor recreation, land access, and conversation. So I couldn't wait to hear what new research he's been doing since we last talked. Evan and I headed over to the UTC campus, just a mile or so from the RootsRated office.
Drew: We're at UTC.
Mark: That's the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Drew: In the first floor, metro here, in the back-corner cave.
Mark: It's almost like we're in a library or something. You've got some gear storage, I guess, back here.
Drew: Yeah, I'm making the most of it. It's a cave, backspace, corner room but, you know, we have some pictures of national parks to keep me motivated here.
Mark: Tell me about this canoe again. You said it actually has hands painted University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which is pretty cool. So were these all programmed canoes?
Drew: Yeah, these were the original canoes they bought for the program, I think back in the late-'70s, and they were just beat to death, so they were gonna throw them out. So, you know, we cut them in half and just made some shelves out of them, and keep a little bit of history in here, and it reminds us of kind of what's been going on and where we're going.
BJ: Drew has a Ph.D. in Education, Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies, that's a mouthful. So he's uniquely qualified to speak to the intersection we're exploring here between tourism, outdoor activity, and population health.
Mark: So we went in to see him. He had this futuristic-looking headset that's actually EEG reader. It's a brainwave scanner and it measures what's happening at people's heads when they're outdoors. It's like something out of Star Trek. It kind of looked like a mix between a drone and some kind of speaker. I'm trying to describe this thing like in a more useful way...I'm just gonna have to post pictures of it. It's a bizarre looking thing. But it has a few different connectors. And they've actually created an app that goes with this EEG reader and a researcher can actually see brain activity and emotions right next to the video of the person doing the activity in the outdoors. And they're actually working on some ways where you could actually see it on your phone in real time.
Evan: Oh, that's cool.
Mark: Yeah, it was really fun to play with this thing.
Drew: We have a guy in town building the app for us now where we can actually video people, and second by second, we can see what their brain's doing as they're doing stuff, so we got a couple of guys bouldering here. So this is...focus up here, this is a frontal lobe activity. This is positive versus negative emotions, where positive's high and negative's low, and this is kind of an anxiety down here at the bottom.
Mark: So we're seeing a video up at the top left of somebody bouldering, and then we have four channels, I guess.
Drew: Yeah, these are brainwave, mood/state line graphs.
Mark: You can see exactly what's happening inside his head.
Drew: Yeah, yeah, he's trying to figure out. This is his first time bouldering outside. This was during a rock climbing class, so he's actually pretty nervous here. He's never climbed outdoors and this is his first time on a top out climb, so he knows he's gonna have to climb 15 feet up and then finish at the top, so it's gonna be too high to back down. So he's pretty nervous and you can see here, he's got a dip going down for negative emotion, I think is when he feels that hold and it's not good. He thought, "Shoot, I can be in trouble." And you see, every time he gets ready to do a move, his focus kind of will increase as he starts to feel around for those handholds.
So what we're looking at now is we have...we've already done some research on general brainwave activity at different aspects. So we did...we had people repelling and we got their baseline and we got them at the edge of it, and then after they went over and then at the bottom, so four different time points and it showed that, you know, their anxiety went through the roof, of course, as they went to the edge. And as soon as they felt the rope, anxiety went down. But now, we're looking at very specific second by second patterns and seeing, you know, does a person who's brand new to climbing, does their brainwave activity look different than somebody who's been doing it for a long time? What does their pattern of focus and anxiety look like as they deal with a challenging situation? So eventually, we're gonna have, you know, heart rate and skin temperature, and sweat response all down here underneath. You'll be able to watch them all to go up and down together, select the data, download, and analyze it as you want.
The app is Bluetooth, so this is really what's new about it, is the fact that it's Bluetooth. They've been doing EEG research since the '50s and they've been doing it in a lab with...they would have maybe 50 sensors and cords coming out of every sensor into a computer, and you had to be very careful not to move. Everything was done via video or pictures. So there's been a lot of research actually that shows that just looking at pictures of natural environments puts you in a more meditative state. So now, we can actually go out, out of the lab and into the field and start testing people, you know, as they're actually going through the process. So instead of just looking at their brain, looking at something, a picture on a screen, or they've also done before-and-after, looking at people's brains, now we can actually do the entire process.
Mark: One of the most interesting things that I heard when we were spending time with Drew is this idea of doctors actually prescribing nature as medicine. So Drew's students are working on a few different experiments that will attempt to map of the City of Chattanooga and tie tangible health benefits to the various outdoor activities that are available to do here. In fact, one project is gonna take the outdoor experiences that we recommend on rootsrated.com and they're gonna add in calorie counts and even what they're calling a nature value for each trail or activity.
Drew: If you're looking for somebody who is obese and needs to do something physically active outdoors, what might be a good itinerary and where, especially given their location? Can they just take a walk to a park and then workout on the outdoor fitness equipment or is there something else that would be better for them? So they're gonna try to build that out and we have another group that's trying to build on what is already an exhausted database on the RootsRated website, about all the best trails in the area and add a calorie expenditure to those, and maybe a nature factor too to see which ones are gonna be more mentally restorative and more physically preventative.
So yeah, so we have several groups doing a bunch of different things and they're all serving the same topic. So hopefully, by next spring, we'll have some kind of a model that'll be ready to implement where positions can prescribe outdoor activities as preventative medication. And then companies in town will hopefully provide incentives that if you do a certain number of these activities or reach a certain goal, based on your physical health, then you can have, you know, steep discounts or, you know, free dinners, or, you know, something...that would be a good incentive for people to strive for.
On top of physical health, we're starting to look at mental health too. And of course, ADHD is rampant. If you look at the Center for Disease Control maps, they all correlate, so you'll have physical inactivity, you'll have diabetes, you'll have obesity, you'll have ADHD, you'll have prescription medication usage all overlap on their maps. And the Southeast, right around Chattanooga, is the armpit of America in terms of the rampant levels of all of those things. So the health indicators tend to cluster together, no matter where you are. And what's so ironic about that is that Chattanooga is in the middle of beautiful, outdoor resources in a pretty temperate climate. You can do this stuff all year round here and you can get there from 10 minutes from downtown. You can get to world class destinations. And the problem, of course, is indiscriminately, minorities are suffering from obesity and they often have the least access to something down the street. So in Chattanooga, if I were to have to drive to Lookout Mountain...well, of course, the middle class can get up there it's not a problem. What's harder is for people who are in more of the urban part of Chattanooga, to get there in a safe way and have the information on it because they wouldn't even know about it. And I also feel like it's not for them because they get there and nobody looks like them. Even in my outdoor rec classes, it's mostly white males that come in there. You know, it's just something that...you hike on a trail, the majority of who you're gonna cross is white, middle class people, so we had to break through that, I think, if we're gonna break through this health disparity.
Mark: Let's go down one more level to practicality. Talk to me about how you're measuring mental health benefits.
Drew: So this comes back to the original research that I was doing with Evan and his colleagues. We realized that there was some physical impacts to being outdoors and outdoor activities in general and so we wanted to look into what the brain was doing in those different areas as well. So now, what we're starting to do is we have armbands that measure physiological indicators like skin temperature, and sweat response, and heart rate. And then we also have these EEG scanners that read things really as kind of mood-based indicator, so you'll see if there's a lot of focus and concentration in one area, and then you'll see a lot of activity in the frontal lobe. We can also measure positive versus negative emotion, just to how their brain is reacting to a different environment. I can measure stress and anxiety, so these are the things that we're trying to cross-reference with the physiological indicators. Our idea is to map Chattanooga based on physiological and cognitive response to that.
We start out by measuring things with psychometrics are running, so people go and will stand in an area, and rate it based on how it feels to them, so actually fill out a survey. And now, we're gonna go back and cross-reference that with people walking through those areas and seeing how their brain responds to it, and see how well that correlates. And there's already been research out there that shows that, you know, if you're walking at a busy street and you turn into a park, immediately your frontal lobe activity kind of drops off and you can relax a little bit, so those high intensity beta and gamma waves that reduce a lot of energy in your brain, they immediately relax when you go into a green space and you can be in a more meditative space, which restores your mental attention.
Other research shows if you spend 20 minutes in a natural environment allowing your brain to rest, and relax, and be rejuvenated, it has the same impact as taking a dose of Adderall. Now, it doesn't last as long. You won't be awake for 12 hours at a time, you know, from being out in nature for 20 minutes.
Mark: So it's not going to help you to study in college?
Drew: We'll it actually might help you to study because what it can help is it can help those brainwaves to settle down a little bit, so then you can go back and focus. So they've shown that, you know, you are better at taking a test, at focusing on a task, once you've been outdoors for 20 minutes at a time. Now, again, it's not gonna help you to stay up all night and write that 15-page paper, that's a whole different story. But it can help you with short doses of attention, be able to have mental energy to focus on a task.
Mark: Coming up, what can we actually do to put this data to work?
Support for this episode comes from Toad&Co;, the original trail to tavern clothing brand.
BJ: Mark, guess what I got for Christmas this year.
Mark: What's that?
BJ: I got a Toad&Co; UConn Sherpa jacket.
Mark: Oh, no way.
Mark: That is awesome.
BJ: It is awesome, man. I actually started looking through their website early on when they came on board as a sponsor. And I was looking through their stuff and I was like, "You know what, I wanna be able to support the sponsors as well and be able to talk about how I feel about the products and stuff." And I've never had anything from Toad&Co; before and I needed a new jacket, something that actually looked nice and something that was functional too, you know. I could go outside and play with the kids and, you know, not have to worry about messing it up too much. I found this Sherpa jacket and this thing is awesome. It's got Sherpa lining, you're familiar with Sherpa lining?
Mark: No, but I think I know what it is, essentially.
BJ: It's the fuzzy stuff on the inside.
Mark: The fuzzy stuff on the inside, yeah. Yeah, I love that.
BJ: Oh my God, this feels so comfortable. I put it on, so the night we got it, it was a little chilly outside, probably mid-'40s, maybe close to 50.
Mark: Which is chilly if you're in North Carolina.
BJ: Yeah, in North Carolina, it's really chilly for the rest of the world, you know. Yeah. Yeah, here in the South, y'all. And that lining got on my neck and it was just like so warm, you know, and it was like everything that it promised to be. And I'll be honest with you, I asked for two different jackets. So when I put this thing on, it fits so well. I mean, I ended up wearing it all weekend and it was a good kind of in-between jacket for me. I'm really looking forward to using it some more.
Mark: Very cool, yeah. Congrats on your first Toad&Co;, yeah.
BJ: Toad&Co; believes everyone deserves the opportunity to do what they love.
Mark: That's why a portion of every Toad&Co; purchase goes towards supporting adults with disabilities. From job training to outdoor adventures, your purchases go a long way to support a mission of empowering this deserving population. Through the co-founded, non-profit, Planet Access Company, Toad&Co; takes folks on life-changing trips to the great outdoors as well as offering top-notch job training and career opportunities in their warehouse where every order is picked, packed, and shipped with unmatched efficiency and enthusiasm. Toad&Co; thanks you for supporting what they love. They couldn't do it without you.
[00:18:57] [Silence] [00:19:23]
BJ: Welcome back to RootsRated Labs. We've talked about all the data being created to help back up claims that outdoor recreation has both health and economic impacts. Creating all this data and studying the problem is one thing, and Drew's research will certainly help uncover important problems and argue for funding. But we're not doctors and we won't be writing prescriptions. So what can we actually do to influence population health?
Mark: Yeah, I mean, that's a great question, BJ. I think, as marketers, from a variety of industries, not just outdoor an travel, I really think that we have a lot that we can do here. Once we realize there's a problem, we measure it and we have data. I really feel strongly that we have to advocate for change in the way that we actually build our cities. As I started talking with Drew in doing research about these issues, one of the things that you can find is that there is a correlation between the built environment and our own health. We have to fundamentally change the model for how people move around in their day-to-day life. You have to have physical resources before you can create programs. So it's great that we have all these programs trying to get people outside, but ultimately, what we need is access. We need safe, attractive, public places. They really inspire people to be out and to be active on a daily basis.
And so one of the people that I thought of here as I started getting into this research was Rick Wood.
Rick: My name is Rick Wood.
Mark: He is with The Trust for Public Land.
Rick: Our mission is to converse land and to protect land, and then create parks for people for generations to come, so we get to be engaged in the community, we often say "from mountaintop to main street." And so we get to work on large landscape conservation or protection measures, and protection pieces, all the way down to a neighborhood park.
Mark: And this is a group that's actually doing something about obesity-related disease. They've taken on the issue of access and have created free, outdoor, fitness equipment in a few parks here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. TPO has partnered with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. They have funded the first few of these areas. They call them fitness zones. Rick told me about a park where they built a new program for kids right next to this health equipment for adults, and they had stumbled into a really effective recipe for success.
Rick: We found that in one community, we placed a new playground right next to the fitness zone. So think about it, we had adults primarily in a Hispanic community, we have adults using a brand new fitness zone and now they had a playground. So we're finding that adults will come to the fitness zone, bring in their kids, you know, kids are playing on the playground. And we're finding that it's a real great, kind of symbiotic relationship because the kids are watching their parents, role model for them, at these fitness zones and the parents aren't just sitting on a park bench, you know, looking at their phone or sitting down and doing something inactive. So it's kind of a good development model for us as we go forward. We think we're gonna try to pair those two together from here on out.
Mark: So again, mapping all this data is a great start but TPO is also actually going in and strategically partnering with organizations to get these things done. So together, they've built several improvements to public parks aimed at getting a wide variety of people active. Rick tells us a little bit more about what a fitness zone actually is.
Rick: So it's fitness equipment for adults. It's almost like a playground for adults and there's elliptical machines, there's bicycle machines, there's chin up bars, and it's just a great thing, and it's free. It's accessible. It's already at a place that's kind of respected in the community. There's already programming going on. We're also measuring use right now, so we're looking at are people really using these, are they effective, how are they hearing about it? We're not really measuring anybody's weight loss at this point, or we're not measuring heart disease or anything like that, but we're really just measuring use at this point.
Mark: One of the most interesting things about The Trust for Public Lands efforts with these fitness zones is how they decide where to place them. So Rick showed me these really fascinating maps that tell the story of our built environment. They have access to parks. They are mapping out urban heat islands. They're mapping out connectivity among neighborhoods. And then they actually have health overlaid on that as well. And they're mapping it out block by block, and it's all available to overlay in different layers.
Rick: So like a connectivity? How many people live within a 10-minute walk of a park and how many don't? And so we look at that connectivity opportunity. Where are there planned bike lanes? Where are the planned greenways? How easy is it for people to get around town to get to these parks and important places like libraries and schools?
Mark: When they look at these maps and how all the different problems in a city overlap, they actually are finding that parks can make a difference and help on several levels at the same time.
Rick: Then, in Chattanooga, we also overlaid another map called "Health," and we looked at the most obese areas or the highest locations in our city that had obesity-related diseases, diabetes and other diseases that are related to obesity, and we were able to map all of those areas. And you can look at one layer a time; you can look at just heat and look at all the hotspots in Chattanooga. You can look at just obesity-related diseases. You can look at just absorption issues and flood issues. Or you can lay them all together and you can get a map that kind of...we call stacked priorities, where you can look at everything, and you can help make better decisions on where to invest your money to place parks.
BJ: So when Rick is talking about these stacked priorities, what is it that you're seeing there?
Mark: Yeah, it is interesting, when you look at these maps in person and you do see these different overlays turned on and off on the computer, you can really see that a lot of the problems co-locate. So the places that don't have good access to parks, that aren't connected to other neighborhoods, that aren't connected to churches, and schools, and the different things that you wanna do in your life, they correlate directly with this obesity-related disease. And what we're starting to see...and there's a growing realization that access to parks and to pleasant outdoor spaces is actually a civil rights issue. Because you're talking about areas that are poorer, there are often more people of color and all of these things...it's the history of redlining in our country where people didn't have access to mortgages if they were a people of color. You see the vestiges of this racism that was institutional for so long. And so we have to get better at being inclusive, and we have to create this kind of data, and show this objective data to back up arguments that we've all been making for a long time about the health benefits of getting people interested in activities like hiking, climbing, paddling. I really feel like once lawmakers see this data, funding parks and preserving open spaces just becomes a moral imperative.
BJ: I've noticed one thing here locally. Just this past summer, they've been working down in one of my favorite places to run in the Greenwing, in Greenwing, North Carolina and they've been expanding it, which is great. But I noticed, when I got down to the end towards the town common on the river, they've been putting in this huge new park up, a lot of play area. When I look at it...and I haven't been out there to check it out since it's been completed a few weeks ago, but when I look at it, it's definitely built for kids. It's also an area that's gonna be more accessible to folks who just haven't really had access to this kind of playground before. Seeing more of that throughout the country is only gonna help.
Mark: I feel like also as more of these diverse communities have access to fantastic parks and to world class outdoor, recreation opportunities, we're gonna start to see the industry change as well and that's something that the outdoor industry, for sure, has been worried about. And I know it's a growing concern in travel, about if you're building your business based on wealthy, white people, you're increasingly going to struggle because the world is becoming more diverse, the United States is becoming much more diverse, millennials are the most diverse generation ever in the U.S. You really need that diversity.
BJ: When I think of parks locally...you know, the one I was talking about here in town, it's mostly kid friendly, you know, it's monkey bars, it's things that they can swing and climb on. But I feel like a lot of times the adults are left out.
BJ: So what do you see as happening in the future for these types of recreation facilities?
Mark: Yeah, it's a great question and I think it goes back to one of the trend lines that we've covered a bit on this podcast and in our writing at RootsRates Labs, but some of it points to a bit of a broadening of what we mean by outdoor activity and we're not talking just about people packing up a backpack and going on a week-long backpacking expedition. That is becoming actually more rare over time. What we have realized we have to have is a broader definition of what outdoor means. And one part of that is exactly what you mentioned, it's building things that adults wanna do in parks, you know, making it fun.
You know, in this case, these fitness zones are basically gyms, they're outdoor gyms. And they're gyms that don't require membership, they're free, they're in public parks. As Rick mentioned earlier, there's already programming going on in these areas and so they're staffed and they're perceived as safe. The first ones they started with especially are in some neighborhoods that are kind of rough neighborhoods, but these are areas that are respected by the community and they're considered to be safe places.
Another aspect too is that we know that we need to encourage people to be active every day. The more that you're marketing towards kind of a pinnacle experience like that, bucket list, kind of backpacking trip, or AT3 [SP] hike or whatever...I mean, all of that is really cool and obviously I think a lot of us have had life-changing experiences out in wilderness areas or national parks, but we really have to focus on how to get people active every single day. And what that means is safe routes to school and communities that are kept up and attractive. And Chattanooga actually went through a big effort to get street trees all over the city. So especially in the Southeast, you need shade in the summertime...
BJ: That's true.
Mark:...or it's really miserable to walk around.
Mark: And so there's things that you just don't think about and that's why...I'm kind of obsessed with the built environment. I would definitely be a city planner if I were not kind of on the road I'm on now because I just think about how these little things that I think most people don't think about them, they just go about their day-to-day life doing what they do. They don't think, "Oh, if I had a corner grocery store, three blocks down the street, I wouldn't have to drive. If I lived in a neighborhood where I could walk to church, I could walk to work, I could ride my bike maybe to the adjacent neighborhood to visit friends, I wouldn't have to drive as much." And not only that, but I would actually be healthier, I would feel better, I would look better, I would feel more confident in myself. All these things work together.
Rick: Parks can't solve all the problems in the world but they can certainly...parks can do more than just one thing. Parks can be beautiful and be cool places. But if a park can absorb water, if it's designed properly, can absorb stream water, it can save the city money. In a heat island area, it was designed especially to cool that part of town. It can reduce people's temperatures.
Mark: So marketers can definitely help get the word out about problems like these and that's something that we're really good at. But I think also, we can put our money to work and we can partner like BlueCross has done to help fund meaningful infrastructure improvements. We can challenge our own customers with giveback days, maybe matching grants. And companies can obviously donate money directly. But you can really multiply your impact by challenging customers to match your donations. It's actually something that we did when we were working on the Stringers Ridge Park. It's right in the middle of North Chattanooga and it was about to be developed and there was kind of a popular outcry about, "Hey, wait, this is an open space," that somehow it's in this pocket of the city that it just didn't get developed yet. And Trust for Public Land actually stepped in, we all worked together. We had businesses like Rock/Creek, [inaudible 00:32:29] at the time, a lot of other outdoor-related businesses, but also just businesses along that main shopping street there in the North Shore. We all came together and raised a ton of money, and actually bought that land and preserved it forever.
Rick: You can help make better decisions on where to invest your money to place parks. We found that we can really target some of these areas in our cities and make investments. It also makes it easier for us to go to foundations, to cities and say, "We've got a plan and this is a very effective way to invest your money."
Mark: One other thing that I would throw in there too is that we are headed into a somewhat unknown political environment. And what we do know and one of the things that the Outdoor Industry Association has said repeatedly during this election cycle and afterward is that this is a time for local action and we have a right to voice our opinion. We need to let our congress people, our senators, even our mayors, local leadership...we need our voice to be heard to say that we want this kind of investment. We want beautiful cities. We want parks. We want them to be connected. We want other ways to move around in the city because we want for our entire community to be healthier.
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Mark: What are you doing about population health? What are you worried about right now? We'd love to hear from you. Record a voice memo, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call and leave us a voicemail, 423.521.5477.
BJ: Don't forget to include that contact info. We want to know how to reach you if you have some follow-up questions, and we definitely wanna be able to use your voice on the air. We look forward to answering your toughest questions.
Mark: This episode was produced as always by BJ Smith. Thanks, BJ, and thanks for being the co-host with me today while Ana is on vacation. BJ: Yeah, it was fun.
Mark: Special thanks to our guests, Evan Castellano, Drew Bailey, and Rick Wood. Thanks for joining us on RootsRadio Labs.
BJ: So Mark, what is your New Year's resolution?
Mark: Oh, geez. I try not to make resolutions because I do know the facts about resolutions and...
BJ: They are too easy to break.
Mark: Statistically, they are broken quite a bit.
BJ: So let's say this, what is something that you would like to do differently or accomplish over this next year?
Mark: Yeah, that's a good way to say it. Well, you know, I would like to challenge myself to get out more and to get new people out. One of the things that was really rewarding for me in 2016 was trying to invite people out with me. So somebody that maybe is new to a sport, or somebody that I don't think of in the outdoor context, some of our investors up and out, on hikes with. And so what I'd really like to try to do is just multiply the benefits of being outside by inviting new people to come with me. How about you?
BJ: Yeah, so I have a couple of different things and I've made the mistake of reading a bunch of books here lately, because I'm trying to get into this training that I'm doing for a 50K and this will be my first [inaudible 00:36:57], I've only done trail marathons at this point. Well, one of the things that I read about is this thing called Vegan Before 6, have you ever heard of that?
Mark: No, I haven't.
BJ: And I got into reading all about Scott Jurek and how he's such an amazing ultra-marathoner and he just, you know, stays away from meat products altogether, animal products altogether. This idea of Vegan Before 6 because I like meat, you know, I can't deny it. It's kind of a step towards that eating healthier, where you avoid animal products all the way up until dinnertime. So breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, however your schedule is, it's all vegan. And I don't think I'm gonna be able to jump into this right away but it's something that I'm gonna kind of work towards. Because I wanna run farther and I wanna run faster, and I wanna be more healthy, and I don't wanna have to have long recovery periods, and all these other things that are sometimes associated with eating too many animal products. So that's one challenge and the other...you know, it's funny that we've been talking in other shows about the centennial of the national parks. I think I'm just so disconnected that I looked at my wife, I'm like, "You know, I haven't heard anything about the centennial." I mean, I know it's been a big deal and we've talked about it, and I didn't wanna say it to anybody that we've, you know, talked to but I was clueless until it came up for the podcast. She's like, "How can you not know?" Well, she happens to be planning a trip for us to Yellowstone this summer and, of course, she's been exposed to it. And as we're on our way to the families for Christmas, I see this billboard and it says "Park" across it, and she goes, "There you go, there's your billboard," it's one of the centennial billboards. Beyond that, we see another one that says, "The Trailblaze Challenge," from the Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge, have you heard of this?
Mark: Oh yeah. Yeah, I have.
BJ: My wife likes to go on hikes with me. When we go on vacations and they're short, pretty easy hikes, you know, I think the biggest one we did was maybe a 3,000-foot climb up to the summit of Grandfather Mountain, which is around 60,000 feet.
Mark: Oh yeah, beautiful.
BJ: Yeah, beautiful area. But not terribly technical, I mean, there were some ladders, and some ropes, and a few parts but nothing exhausting. Well, she gets a look at this thing and starts looking up on her phone as I'm driving down the road, and I think it's like a 28-plus mile day hike and she's like, "I think I wanna do this." So I signed us up for the info meeting and I'm interested to see what's gonna happen.
Mark: Very cool, yeah. Yeah, we used to host those meetings at Rock/Creek and it was really fun to watch people train for those.
BJ: You know, I wanna get my kids to get out there and train with us some, and I really want to encourage them to love the outdoors as much as we do.
Mark: Well, we should plug your new show, so you're gonna work on a new show in '17 as well, right?
BJ: Yes, yes, okay. Well, since you brought it up, yeah, I'm starting a new show that should be out in just a couple of weeks after this airs called 16 weeks, and it is all about my training for this 50K. What I did mention when I was talking to you a second ago, Mark, is that I ran a trail marathon but that was three years ago, that was over three years [inaudible 00:40:18] now, and I trashed my ankle during it, that's my excuse. And honestly, I haven't run more than 10 miles since then, and it got down to like two, three. And I got to the point where this summer, in the heat of the summer, I had a hard time just making it around the block. So this is a re-emergence for me. This is for me, ready to get back into shape. And a little bit of a spoiler alert, I've already run several runs since then over a half marathon distance, so I should be okay.
BJ: We're gonna follow my training and we're gonna talk about the different things that, you know, either new runners or people who are trying to get back into shape are experiencing, things that we have questions about, things like gear, form, shoes, even talk about harder things like dealing with antidepressants when you're trying to run. So yeah, it's exciting, we're gonna be talking to a lot of experts and I'm looking forward to it.
Mark: Very cool. I'm sure a lot of our listeners will be interested in that show as well.
BJ: Yeah, thanks.
Music for this episode by Podington Bear
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