It is well established that place matters for health promotion.  But how do we go about making a place healthier? This is the question addressed in Making Places Healthy: Designing and Building for Health, Well-Being, and Sustainability (Island Press, 2011 available through major online booksellers).  Edited byAndrew Dannenberg, Howard Franklin, and Richard J. Jackson, this book provides insight on healthy community design from dozens of authors with backgrounds in public health, community development, health care, and more.

 The book opens with an introduction to the concept of healthy places, emphasizing areas of common interest between public health and the community design professions.  The next section describes the impact of community design on health, including physical activity, food supply, air quality, water quality, injury risk, social support, and opportunities for populations who are economically or physically vulnerable.

This sets the stage for an outline of action strategies for promoting health through healthy homes, healthy workplaces, healthy schools, healthy health care settings, green spaces, smart transportation, and disaster preparedness.  Policy plays a strong role within each of these action areas, and it is essential to engage community members as advocates for policy change.  The authors offer a menu of strategies for engaging community voices in healthy community design.

The final chapters focus on healthy places research and the critical importance of training the next generation to promote healthy places.  Ideally this training should include undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education not only for public health professionals, but for all of the design and policy professions that can influence healthy community design.

In summary this book is highly recommended as an efficient overview of the possibilities for healthy community design, especially if you have not visited this literature before.