Urban Planning and Healthcare

28058869_185074aff7_m The next ten years will say a lot about the provincial and federal support for healthcare facilities in rural areas.

With the average age of the population increasing, something needs to be done to ensure that adequate healthcare for the elderly is available in rural communities. It is not appropriate to suggest that elderly residents should have to move away from their hometown to find a bed in a care facility or hospital that caters to common elderly issues.

The Situation in the States

A recent article from down in the states points out how much investment has been pumped into the health care system in many states. We’re talking billions of dollars in upgrades and new construction. This is a massive turn around from the seventies on, where there had been a decline in many areas in healthcare infrastructure spending.

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The Boom goes on

The most significant expansion and replacement of U.S. hospitals since the post-World War II building spree continues to fuel a red-hot construction market. With hundreds of additional projects in the planning stages, it’s a trend that’s expected to last through the rest of the decade.

Read more after the jump…

Meat Regulations Cooked in the Kootenays

It looks like support for a local coop abattoir in the Kootenay’s own Slocan Valley is growing. A group has formed, a website is underway and memberships are available.

The concept of a local abattoir is necessary for this area as the nearest registered facilities are about 350km away… a return trip of 700km, and under the newly adopted BC Meat Regulations it is illegal to buy or sell meat from anything other than a provincially licensed facility.

If you live in the Kootenays and like the idea of supporting local farmers and want to “eat local”, consider a membership. A membership form and information brochure is available for download here for the Slocan Valley Abattoir Co-operative.

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Elderly Playgrounds

Playgrounds evoke memories for many of us: swinging through the air, sliding down death-defying slippery-dips. But what about the times that we feel like slipping into the hard rubber of a swing seat and kicking off, pumping our legs back and forth to go ever higher and higher? Is it appropriate for adults to have fun at a playground?

The following article leaves me feeling a bit, well, dried up about growing old.

Is this all there is to look forward to in our older years? Is this the best that our communities and governments can come up with for the aging? Why aren’t there playgrounds for the middle years? What publicly provided play equipment is there for sufferers of mid-life crises?

Young at Heart: Germany’s First Playground for Seniors – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News

A new outdoor playground in Berlin’s Preussen Park is the first of its kind in Germany. Instead of catering to screaming tiny tots and children with boundless energy, the space is strictly for adults. The equipment, in fact, is designed for people at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall — children can use it only with adult supervision. The idea is to encourage seniors to exercise.

Eight graffiti-resistant machines (click link for image) made of robust stainless steel are laid out on a layer of soft bark under a canopy of trees. It looks as if someone has taken a gym and placed it in the middle of a forest.

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I must agree that it is an interesting idea, and on the surface has merit in this day and age with an every aging population. There is surely a market for some fun outdoor recreation for elderly people.

The closing remarks of the article are quite telling though

There were no young people at the opening, just pensioners. Later, though, when the celebrities were gone and the machines glowed in the sun like shiny public memorials, the battle over control of the playground began.

Two youngsters swung wildly at the leg trainer, as if they wanted to tear it apart. Behind them an old man had a go at the back massager. Meanwhile, two elderly ladies had their walking frames stuck in the layer of bark that covered the playground. <

Are the elderly ready for their own playground?

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Challenging Playgrounds

I stood at the top of a near vertical drop, swaying in the brisk April breeze. I had conquered the climb, below me my peers stood in awe at the prowess and fearlessness that had been evident in mastering this feat of bravery. OK, so maybe the imagination of an eight year old version of me is getting a bit out of hand as I sit at my desk reminiscing the “good old days”…

But I do remember the feeling of meeting a good challenge head on, and some of the best challenges were in playgrounds or places that we made our playgrounds, trees, building sites, caves, creek beds, rock faces and even steep roadways. I grew up in a culture and environment that didn’t put the constraints on children that are common in our over-protective society today. Most of the kids in my neighborhood were free to play in “the bush” or “down the road” or “over at Billy’s house”, as long as they were home in time for dinner, or before it got dark, whichever came first, depending on the season.

Playgrounds are a passion of mine. I love designing them, I love playing on them, and I love seeing my kids having fun on them.

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Long Forgotten Playgrounds

One of my favorite pieces of play equipment is the swing set. I love the feeling of a well designed swing; where the chains are just the right length to get a heart stopping pause at the top of the arc, before you swoop back through to earth again. Not long ago it was still possible to find a park with a merry-go-round, a set of real see-saws, a long set of monkey-bars and a death defying slippery-dip slide, but with the advent of litigious communities and cautious cities, these simple, study and fun pieces of play equipment began disappearing from the parks scattered around our nation. There was no outcry, no conspiracy theories, after all the Atari and Sega game consoles were getting more of a workout than the playgrounds, parents were happy, and their children were safe inside.

A recent article in the Boston Globe quotes Susan Solomon, an architectural historian and author of American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space

Back to the playground – The Boston Globe

“The see-saw today,” points out Solomon, “is pretty much a horizontal bar that hardly moves in either direction. It just kind of jiggles a little bit.” School playgrounds in Broward County, in south Florida, now post “No Running” signs.

Recent Trends in Playground Design

Most playgrounds around the country have been installed by developers or cities as new development occurs, or as older parks get vandalized or marked for equipment replacement or upgrading. Its pretty safe to say that most parks have a 5-6 foot high slide, some sort of ladder or small climbing structure, again no more than six feet high, maybe a swing set, typically with chains not more than 9-10 feet long all surrounded by pea gravel bounded by treated timber as if to say, you can only play within these boundaries.

This playground sucks

If my four year old gets bored after a few minutes of playing at some of these parks, is an eight year old going to play on the equipment? Now there are exceptions to the rule, but generally these aren’t built without significant cost, or an ongoing commitment to facilitate play or provide materials.

Children are smarter than we give them credit for, if they are forced to play in uninspiring play areas, they will find ways to make it more dangerous, hence the signs on indoor play areas “do not climb on the outside of tunnel” and the netting preventing children from accessing forbidden more challenging terrain.

Kids want the challenge, kids need the challenge of heights and speed and balancing in a playground.

Check out my ideas for Innovative Play Space Designs in my next blog post.

Let us know what you think of these ideas, and share your experiences good and bad in playgrounds.

Working Hours

How many hours do you work a week? This question is buzzing around the blogosphere at the moment, following a post by Mike from Freshbooks about the hours he works as an entrepreneur.

FreshBooks

First up, cause it’s worth understanding who this guy is, what’s Freshbooks?

FreshBooks is an online invoicing and time tracking service that saves you time and makes you look professional – Fortune 500 professional. FreshBooks is easy to use and you can try it for free.

Online billing is a pretty simple way to keep track of hours done, invoices and payments, and Mike has done a great job with this tool that even has a free version.

Working Week

Now back to the hours Mike works (with a surprise at the end)…

Bend and Stretch

How many hours do you sit in front of a computer staring endlessly at a monitor? Do you make a regular habit of getting up and stretching?

Web Worker Daily has a post with some simple to follow diagrams of 16 stretches that can be completed in about 5-10 minutes.

Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive Web Worker stretches «

Yes, we sit at desks in front of our computers for the majority of time during our day. Some of us might not even take a trip to the cafe, or to the mail box because we are so into the work of the day. We might have good chair’s, desk’s, and even great posture, but even then, we still get all cramped up with muscle aches at the end of the day. How can you alleviate some of the aches and pains in your life? Taking five minutes out of your day to stretch!

What do you do to keep your body from falling apart at work?

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Roads increase the Risk of HIV

Tanzanian natives - Engineering ConstructionWe all have a lingering feeling that all the development around us actually detracts from our lifestyles and health, and that somehow, if we could all just get back to a simpler life that we might just be healthier. 

I think that is a gross oversimplification of the effects of technology on Western society, but in Africa, some of the things we take for granted are set to destroy nations, similar to the Colonialisation of North America and Australia.

Although the construction of roads in rural areas of Tanzania has boosted economic opportunity, it also could increase HIV transmission, according to a report by the Tanzania Civil Engineering Contractors Association and the African Medical and Research Foundation, IRIN/PlusNews reports.

Source: Road Construction In Tanzania Could Increase HIV Transmission, Study Says

The study bases it’s claim on a couple of issues, first and most obviously linkage of rural areas to cities: