Meet Sarah, a wonderful member of our interdisciplinary team and one of two Healthy Communities Planners we have on staff.
Sarah is a sustainability-minded community planner who believes that through innovative and authentic community engagement, we can better express our deep connection to place and desire for a sustainable and healthy future. Sarah has a particular affinity for planning in coastal communities and environments because she grew up in Haida Gwaii! Her “real boss”—her dog Yogi—is a frequent guest at the BC Healthy Communities office. (Stay tuned—profiles about our canine companions may be coming soon!)
We asked Sarah all about her passions, influences and ambitions.
What do you love most about healthy communities work / what do you think is most important about it?
"I love the holistic lens a healthy communities approach provides for supporting happy and healthy individuals and communities. By taking a healthy communities approach, we are given the ability to step back in our work as planners and focus on broader impacts to our community, beyond perhaps explicit economic and political outcomes. Healthy community planning, by necessity, also requires that sectors collaborate beyond their traditional partnerships. Being able work outside of the planning field, to cross pollinate and learn more about the work of others that contributes to a healthy place and healthy society is an incredible opportunity."
"From a planning perspective, I think the most important thing about healthy communities work is the acknowledgement that community design directly affects our health, not just through our ability to engage in physical activity, but also our ability to access food, our connection to safe and healthy environments, and above all how the design of place impacts equity."
How does the planning lens you bring help to support healthy aging, and why is this important?
"A planning lens supporting age-friendly communities and healthy aging allows particular insight into how the mechanisms of local government help support the aging process. These systems overarch and connect many of the issues we face as we age-in-place, and rather than providing expertise in one subject or another, I think my background as a planning professional allows me to connect the dots, think strategically and to help empower local governments in their work to become supportive and inclusive of all citizens. If individuals are going to be supported to age-in-place, we need to move the aging journey away from being solely the responsibility of say, the health sector, and engage in designing our communities in a way that better supports individuals to stay healthy early on, and to have appropriate housing and transportation supports so that they may still maintain a level of independence for as long as possible."
What is your secret superpower outside work?
"My secret power… I love to create, especially traditional hand crafts like sewing, quilting, potting and crochet! Being creative every day is empowering and also an exercise in curiosity and living in the unknown, because hey, you never know if things are going to turn out the way you planned. I like to think this willingness to embrace a creative life supports the work that I do with communities."
Read more about Sarah's background here.