Why they stand out
It’s difficult to imagine downtown Green Bay five years ago, when it lacked today’s abundance of people strolling sidewalks, nearby greenways, a thriving CityDeck or visiting stores and restaurants. Changes started to occur at the intersection of community conversations around health and workforce development as investments were made in active connection points to businesses and waterfront revitalization projects to name a few. Local media showed more people walking and biking downtown, reinforcing perceptions of a thriving activity hub. “We’ve seen a dramatic transformation in how people engage and think about downtown Green Bay,” says Natalie Bomstad, Executive Director of Wello, a local non-profit that engages residents and organizations to work towards place-based well-being. “That helps us continue to talk about [healthy places], and we see it becoming more part of the public consciousness.”
Changes across Brown County extend beyond downtown Green Bay, where Wello leads the Greater Green Bay Active Communities Alliance with passionate community partners collaborating to advance long-term improvements. Partnerships between advocates, education, business, local government staff, and elected officials have yielded grants to fund Green Bay’s Safe Routes to School Program and Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, safety improvements along hazardous roadway areas, and the adoption of official resolutions for year-round maintenance and snow removal on the Fox River Trail system among Brown County, the cities of Green Bay and De Pere and the Village of Allouez. Wello followed up on that success by encouraging local health care systems to purchase trail passes for all employees. Wello also supported Green Bay’s education campaign when the city launched its new Lime Bike dockless bike share in 2018, and helped facilitate an agreement between Green Bay Metro Transit and Green Bay Area Public Schools to allow students to ride city busses free of charge. So many visible and collaborative policy wins have bolstered area-wide support for development that encourages people to walk, bike and use transit.
Wello’s healthy community initiatives have evolved considerably since 2010, when they started as “Live 54218.” It formed as a result of widespread community interest on addressing childhood obesity by focusing on physical activity and healthy eating. Years of building trust through community engagement uncovered a broader and more unifying interest in advancing well-being by creating healthy places for all regardless of age or ability. Following their 2018 rebranding, Wello remains committed to building relationships, listening to the community and lifting up bold solutions to make Brown County a better place to live, work and play. Keep leading the way to health, Wello!
Approach to Equity
As an organization, Wello has a stated commitment that everyone should be able to access what they need to participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. One key way they demonstrate their commitment to equity is to build partnerships with local leaders among disadvantaged populations in the community. Wello seeks opportunities to be present, listen and learn from the communities’ experiences, and identify tangible ways to act on the communities’ priorities.
Another powerful equity strategy is in Wello’s intentional consideration of the equity impacts when choosing which initiatives to work on or deciding which strategies to choose. For instance, working with the Green Bay Metro Transit and school district allows students to use city buses free of charge improves access to transportation for young people while de-stigmatizing transit use. Similarly, their bike share decisions were shaped by a priority on low-cost accessibility to bikes and a sliding scale payment method. Wello also participates in the City of Green Bay’s task force to determine bike share options that address the unique needs of residents from all ages and abilities.