The mission of Virtual
Manitoba is to relentlessly promote all things
Manitoban. I tend to focus on rural and natural places because
the larger communities do a great job of promoting themselves. Some
communities and regions are over-represented simply because they are
closer to where I live and work, and I just have more info about them.
assume that my bias towards what I consider to be healthy sustainable,
interactions with natural settings is readily apparent. I think
activities involving motors and spectacles get enough promotion.
The Mission of "Healthy Communities" is to highlight selected
examples of decisions that communities have made, or might make, to
enhance sustainablity and promote a healthy lifestyle.
I believe that accentuating the positive is the best way to
are thousands of good examples we can access if we want to plan
healthy communities. And I will try to tell some of those stories.
There are issues that are just too important to ignore.
And there are times when, in order to try to persuade people or
governments to do what is right, we have to start with some
observations about what they are doing wrong.
First, however we have to SEE those things that we all are doing wrong.
There is a scene in a movie about the 2008 sub-prime mortgage meltdown
where two characters, in an effort to better understand the situation,
take an unusual step. They leave their urban offices and visit a few
housing developments. They talk to people who have taken out some of
these questionable mortgages. They meet a man who is about to be
from his home because he purchased it with one of these loans and he
can no longer make the payments.
And, just like that, they get it. They see what is obvious to anyone
involved, on location, and affected. They saw what most of the experts,
with their economic theories and statistic-ridden reports, had totally
The system was unsustainable - the bubble would burst.
When we look back on our failed efforts to avoid a much more serious
catastrophe, that of the degradation of the natural world, and try to
understand why we steadfastly avoided doing what needed to be done, we
will see some parallels.
The connection I am making here is that for the past fifty years, I
have visited hundreds of Manitoba communities at ground level. I have
walked, hiked, biked, and paddled. I have been a regular pedestrian and
cyclist in my home community; I see things at ground level.
When you travel at ground level you simply see things differently. When
I recount some examples of things I think local governments are doing
wrong I realize that part of the reason we do things wrong is that we
simply don’t notice. My thoughts
about healthy communities are rooted in personal experience. I am not a
climate scientist, but my belief system is firmly rooted in scientific
Communities can decide to become healthier. They can be designed to
encourage and promote healthy lifestyles. They can enact legislation
that favours healthy activities.
There are success stories throughout all of the collection I
call Virtual Manitoba. Beautiful
parks and natural areas, hundreds of navigable
streams, interesting small town museums,
historic sites. Things I love to talk about and promote.
However, there are limits to the effectiveness of success stories. Over
the past three
decades the media has focused on success stories and mild admonitions
regarding climate change. I balanced that with the "other side of the
story". The other side of the story, as all objective scientists knew
all along, was a skillfully coordinated and lavishly funded campaign to
deny, delay and derail attempts to solve a very real problem. The
strategy worked so well that large parts of the planet are becoming
We are living in the midst of a totally preventable, seeable,
Perhaps we need more gloom and doom!
Success stories sell. Success stories don't offend. Success stories
lead us to believe that everything is under control. Just a few tweaks
and everything will be fine.
One would think, now that even politicians who were on the wrong side
of the climate change "debate" seem to be waking up, that we would
start to make some progress on, at the very least, mitigating the
damage. So far …not so much.
The battle for healthier communities is a subset of the battle to avert
climate change. In both cases the problem is that our governments have
subsidized the wrong things, and rewarded the wrong behaviors.
We have to start with the problem, and the reason for the problem. With
luck we may stray into the reason it took us so long to recognize that
we have a problem.
This is a huge topic so we will try to keep it local. I live in
Brandon, Manitoba so I will use my community, when speaking of urban
issues, and when speaking of small towns and natural areas I will also
tend towards what I know best.
1. Villages and Towns that Take
Lake William - Healthy by Design
Museums in the Southwest Corner
5. Deloraine - Healthy Communities
Perspective on Transportation
Infrastructure - Access
Calming: A Community
Smoking: The Next Step
9. Natural Areas
Steep Rock on Lake Manitoba
13. Some highlights from "Healthy
Communities" across Manitoba
14. Pedestrian Perspective on
Transportation Maintenance - Snow Removal
15. Lawn Care
16. A Tale of Two Villages:
Communities are Intentional
17: Brandon's ACC North Campus -
Case Study in Unsustainable Design
ACC North Campus - A
Case Study in Unsustainable Maintenance
19: Wildlife Management Areas - Towards a
20. Authentic History:
represent their past.
21. The Rosedale Farm Trail
22. Facing Climate Facts
23. Pedestrian Safety
24. A Tale of Two Villages (II):
Healthy Communities involve a partnership.
25. Do I really need a Pickup