Today’s blog is by Sherry Barrett, Community Design and Land Planning Planning Manager with Upstate Forever and Kelley Ezell, Executive Director with Upstate Family Resource Center. Across South Carolina and the US, communities are transforming car-dependent places through projects designed to accommodate a mix of uses within walking and/or biking distance. Successful communities do this by purposefully engaging public, private and institutional partners and diverse citizen-leaders to build a more vibrant, healthy, and prosperous place. It doesn’t happen by itself. That’s why Upstate Forever and the Upstate Family Resource Center have partnered through a Mary Black Foundation grant to convene the “Building a Healthy Boiling Springs” Cohort. Inspired by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Change Leaders, this diverse, cross-sector group of 10 -12 individuals—each with a vested interest in the Boiling Springs community— is in training to better understand the connection between the built environment—the buildings, transportation corridors, and physical networks that shape a community—and individual and community health. The group will learn from other communities creating convenient opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating as part of everyday life routines. They’ll explore how they can help encourage development and redevelopment projects that support community health and long term prosperity in Boiling Springs. Cohort members will then plan and implement an initiative that moves their community toward a built environment that supports active-living in everyday life routines. Such an initiative has the potential to be a first step toward a bolder, healthier future for Boiling Springs; a future that —wisely and proactively—embraces growth, and simultaneously enhances quality of life. The cohort will address what could be. How might Boiling Springs grow into an even “better place”? How can the cohort help make this happen? This small group of enthusiastic citizen-leaders is committed to a meaningful, positive change that will begin to transform Boiling Springs into a healthy, prosperous suburban community that is second to none in the Upstate.