Why they stand out
Appleton’s forward-thinking approach to creating a healthy, walk/bike/transit-friendly community shows up in many plans and policies that guide the city’s infrastructure, allowing more people to walk and bike safely throughout the community. Their local Complete Streets policy - one of only a few in Wisconsin - requires, rather than suggests, that street design must include all users. The city’s Comprehensive Plan prioritizes infrastructure improvements in locations of safety concern, and references other key local and regional plans (e.g., downtown, parks and recreation, and bike lanes/ crosswalks).
An extensive Safe Routes to School plan also exists, in collaboration with East Central Regional Planning Commission. Additionally, participation in the Green Tier Legacy Community inspired Appleton to become Wisconsin’s first city to adopt a ‘Health in all Policies’ ordinance, which looks at the ways that any policy impacts access to make healthy choices within a community. Each of Appleton’s plans and policies includes accountability metrics, budget indicators and reporting requirements, to keep the city’s vision on track.
Collaboration is a key factor in Appleton’s ability to adopt and implement policies to create a more physically active and vibrant city. All city department heads meet every other week to move key initiatives and discuss issues, and they maintain strong interpersonal relationships with each other and with elected officials. Additionally, city leaders collaborate with local and regional advocates and coalitions that work on community outreach strategies, ensuring that local voices are part of their ongoing improvement process. A city which prides itself on a proactive approach, Appleton is making impressive strides to put active, healthy choices within reach for all its residents. We can’t wait to see what the next decade brings!
Approach to Equity
Appleton’s long-standing commitment to addressing equity builds in strategies to hear voices of low-income people, people of color, and persons with disabilities. For the past 20 years, the city has employed a diversity coordinator, who works with a wide range of stakeholders to address disparities in economic development, jobs, housing, transportation and more. Appleton is also starting to use new mapping technology and shared regional healthcare provider data to identify areas most impacted by health disparities. These processes, along with outreach facilitated by the diversity coordinator, will also play a key role in implementing the new Health in All Policies Ordinance, which is explicitly written to address and advance local equity.
Additionally, representation within decision making bodies is a part of advancing equity, and Appleton is fortunate to have the leadership perspective of an alderperson with a physical disability. This local leader is part of a local peer support and advocacy organization, and has provided peer education to other elected officials around mobility and access for persons with disabilities. Such local voices in Appleton influence the development of policies that related to opportunities for physical activity among people of all ability levels.