I first heard about Second Sunday through Jay McChord. Jay is in the big running group I join as often as I can on Saturday mornings. Pretty much everyone who comes in contact with Jay knows about Second Sunday and quickly discovers how passionate he is about it.
The following article was written in a New York publication regarding Second Sunday:
Jay McChord is as energetic and passionate a person as you’ll find in America. While many know him as a generational communication consultant, a Lexington, Kentucky City Councilman, or even as a former University of Kentucky “Wildcat” mascot, livable streets advocates should know him as the chief architect of the only statewide ciclovia program in the United States: Kentucky’s (2S) initiative (http://www.2ndsundayky.com/index.htm).
McChord’s “ah-ha!” moment occurred while hearing Enrique Penalosa tell the story of Bogota, Columbia’s famed. It was then and there that McChord realized the connection between the built environment and public health, and that bringing a ciclovia to Kentucky was imperative.
In Diana Doggett, a University of Kentucky’s extension agent in Fayette County, McChord found a kindred spirit who understood not only the value of developing a ciclovia initiative in Lexington, but the potential impact of doing it statewide (with agents in all 120 counties, Kentucky’s university extension system provides an invaluable organizational network.) Within months the two miraculously secured seed funding and coaxed 70 counties to simultaneously run their own local, place-based 2S initiatives on the second Sunday of October 2008. Their initial goal was 12.
In 2009 the number of participating counties climbed to 101. Logically, the goal for 2010 is to have all 120 counties simultaneously walking, bicycling, skating, dancing, talking, and playing in the streets together.
In advance of meeting this goal, however, the City of Lexington is moving their wildly popular, and now monthly 2S initiative to the flattest, smoothest piece of asphalt in the state: the new Blue Grass Airport’s 4,000 ft. runway. Here, on Sunday, June 13th, Kentuckians will be able to watch commercial flights come and go while walking, bicycling, running, and playing on a new runway before it opens to commercial air traffic this fall.
“When has an airport been a health provider?!” McChord asks emphatically. “The symbolism of this particular event and the general shift in mentality that 2S enables is incredible. We’ve seen Second Sunday help state agencies, local municipal officials, volunteers, and advocates work together on issues that must be addressed holistically, and not just in Kentucky, but nationwide. Second Sunday is the best, and only way we’ve found in Kentucky to get people out of their silos to work together.”
It’s clear that 2S is having a tremendous effect in a state that “eats too much and exercises too little,” according to Tom Eblen who recently wrote an article in the local newspaper about the 2S Blue Grass Airport event. Indeed, Kentucky’s health indicators regularly rank amongthe nations worst. In the same article Eblen reminds readers that the Blue Grass State currently has the highest cancer rate in the country, its third highest rate of heart disease and smoking , and ninth highest rate of premature deaths of all kinds.
McChord refers to the stats despairingly as the “Kentucky Uglies.”
“We are learning that people in Kentucky are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Second Sunday is helping us break the cycle by getting thousands of people outside exercising in an enjoyable, community-based social setting.”
McChord and Doggett’s goals don’t stop at the state line, however. Rather, both are working tirelessly to push 2S as a national model for transforming the physical and economic health of the country. McChord asserts that the 2S model is simple, replicable, and highly effective at promoting healthier lifestyles and a more balanced use of public infrastructure.
To that end, McChord and Doggett want nothing less than a national holiday dedicated to healthy activity where streets are concurrently closed to motor vehicles and opened to people in every state in the union.
How ‘bout it America?
Courtney and Brett met me out there to be part of this special event. It was HOT since there were no trees but it was really neat. My only regret: I forgot to take my camera so these pictures are from my cell phone. They are still pretty cute of my girl though....