Plan Spartanburg… for Your Future
On Sunday, September 20, 2020, Mary Black Foundation Board of Trustees member Karen Calhoun published an opinion article to the Spartanburg Herald Journal about the City of Spartanburg’s updates to its comprehensive plan. You can read the full article below.
From now until the end of October, the City of Spartanburg is embarking on a process to update its comprehensive plan, which is a policy document that details the City’s long-term vision and goals. More importantly, it outlines the steps necessary to achieve the goals and guides the City’s growth and development. The plan is long range in scope – usually 20-30 years – and focuses on the ultimate needs of the community. The City’s current plan was adopted in 2004 so it’s time to review and update it to ensure it still reflects the vision residents have for the community.
As a life-long resident and business leader working with many companies throughout Spartanburg as a partner at McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, I am excited to see the City begin this process. The more people who engage in the planning process, the better the outcome will be. The City will use the plan document to set goals for our future, so we need to provide thoughts about what we value most and where we see opportunities for growth, change, or improvement.
Focus on Equity
As a board member of the Mary Black Foundation, I am glad to see the City’s focus on equity. The Mary Black Foundation invests in people and communities for improved health, wellness, and success. We believe that all people should have access to opportunities to thrive and no one should be limited in achieving health and wellness because of who they are or where they live. We also recognize that many factors combine to affect an individual’s health. Whether people are healthy or not, is often determined by their circumstances and by the environment of where they live.
Social, physical, and economic characteristics of neighborhoods have been shown to affect health and longevity. A neighborhood can promote health by providing places for children to play and for adults to exercise that are free from crime, violence and pollution. Access to grocery stores selling fresh produce—as well as having fewer neighborhood liquor stores and fast food outlets—can make it easier for families to find and make healthy choices. Social and economic conditions in neighborhoods that improve health include employment opportunities, efficient public transportation, an effective police force, and good schools.
Not all neighborhoods enjoy these opportunities and resources and, unfortunately, we see the inequitable outcomes that are the result. Many of our neighborhoods that have been traditionally under resourced, are the same neighborhoods that experience higher rates of infant mortality, childhood obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions. In fact, the life expectancy in some City neighborhoods is 17 years less than in nearby, more resourced neighborhoods. In our City, where we live should not determine how long or how well we live.
For Spartanburg to be the best it can be, we need to ensure all people can thrive. When we don’t, there’s a ripple effect and the entire community isn’t as strong as it could be. Participating in the planning process is one way that all people can contribute to our future health, wellness, and success.
How to Participate in the Planning
There are a number of ways you can share your thoughts. There will be small group meetings where you can gather with neighbors and talk together about what you’d like to see included in the plan, the City will host a planning workshop, or you can share your ideas online. Visit www.planspartanburg.com for more information about events and to provide your input and feedback. Whether you care about access to recreation facilities, like trails and parks, affordable housing, downtown business, public transportation, or other services, the City needs to hear from you. Together, we will plan for Spartanburg and our future.