Today is International Walk to School Day!

Hundreds of students in Duval County walked to school this morning, joining millions worldwide.   Walk to School Day promotes community awareness of the benefits to walking and biking- increased physical activity for chldren, a safer environment for pedestrians, reduced traffic congestion, and relationship building.

Brentwood Elementary, SP Livingston Elementary, and Eugene Butler Middle School participated this year as a kickoff to Safe Routes to School Programs in New Town and in Brentwood.  Today was a huge success at these schools.  Follow this link to see the news coverage at SP Livingston.

Envision Design is partnered with the Health Planning Council and Healthy Kids Healthy Jax, and with a grant from The Blue Foundation will be bringing the SRTS program to these urban neighborhoods.

Julia Landon College Prep Middle School participated for the second year, having successfully completed a Safe Routes to School infrastructure grant.  Landon is awaiting the sidewalk and signaling improvements as recommended by the SRTS committee, with the input of students and community.

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Walkability 101

We hear a lot about “walkability” these days, and certainly Doug and I are promoting Walkable communities.  Just what does this mean exactly, and why do we care?

Dan Burden, of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, has been promoting walkable communities for decades.  So let’s hear directly from the expert.

Walkable 101: The Basics

As Dan stated, a walkable community has healthier residents, lower rates of obesity, is more prosperous, has higher property values, and is more sustainable than non-walkable neighborhoods.

Jacksonville, due to its large size, is considered one of the least walkable cities in the nation according to WalkScore.  However, we can make a difference, community by community.   The urban core and surrounding urban neighborhoods are already working toward this goal.  Suburban communities can do the same by creating pockets of walkable mixed use districts.

A healthier Jacksonville begins with healthier communities within Jacksonville.

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Yes, I know!

We need a conference table.   We’ve needed a conference table for the past year and a half.  We designed a really cool one- just haven’t built it yet because it will be expensive to build it like we want it.  We could get a cheapo temporary table, and almost have on several occasions.  But when I see a really cool table like this (or the one in my head), I just want to wait; to get it right the first time.

SO, this picture got me thinking… how fun would this be?

A great way to conference.

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Morning light

Stone Steps at Parc Guell perfectly designed to capture light and draw you in.

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Jacksonville’s Thriving Arts Scene: A Musical Mecca

So often we focus on what we’d like to change here in Jacksonville.  Certainly there is room for improvement.  While many are frustrated with some of Jacksonville’s policies, let’s not forget to celebrate our gems, including our arts scene.

Jacksonville is truly blessed with talent, past and present- visual artists, musicians, culinary greats, thespians.  We have plenty of venues to enjoy the arts, and our arts education is the envy of much larger cities.

But if you are a music lover, Jacksonville just may be your dream city.  Among our musical treasures is the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and its Jacoby Symphony Hall (Read more at   Between the JSO, the yearly Jazzfest, Friday Musicale, Ritz Chamber Players, Riverside Fine Arts Series, the library’s Music@Main series, and musical theater productions, you’ll always have options to get your musical fix.

If country, Christian, rock/pop, or other contemporary music is more your style, Jacksonville offers major concerts at the Veterans Memorial Arena.  For less mainstream artists, the beautiful Florida Theater or local clubs are sure to host some of your faves.

To feed this artistic energy, Jacksonville has a rich history of fostering budding artists and musicians.  With the national recognition achieved by La Villa School of the Arts Middle School, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (two time winner of the National Grammy Signature school award, indicating it is the best high school music program in the country)  and the UNF Music Flagship Program,  our arts education would rival that of any major arts destination in the country.

Music lovers rejoice!  It’s a great time to be in Jacksonville.

Photo and caption via The Times-Union-A community treasure. Members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra performed at John Stockton Elementary School in 2008. Each season more than 80,000 young people benefit from symphony performances. Only two other cities in Florida have a full-time symphony, and none have a venue like Jacoby Hall.
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San Marco Dining District

San Marco Dining District


bb’s, bistro AIX, the Grotto, Matthew’s, and Taverna have joined together to promote the fine food and wine available in our backyard.

Each week the restaurants will be offering sweet deals.  Visit their facebook page for more details.


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Release of San Marco by Design

Dan Burden in Balis Park

Dan Burden and Doug Skiles discuss a proposed solution to the traffic and pedestrian problems in San Marco Square.

On Friday, August 3rd, the Health Planning Council hosted a San Marco by Design release event at Southside Baptist Church in San Marco Square.

Dan Burden, the nationally recognized walkable communities guru, was the keynote speaker.  He praised the efforts by the committee, saying that San Marco Square could become a model for other community town centers across the country.

Also at the presentation were students who participated in the Safe Routes to School initiative and videos at Julia Landon College Preparatory Middle School.

Following the presentation, Dan led the group on a tour of San Marco Square, discussing how the square can be made more friendly to pedestrians while also improving parking and traffic flow.

To learn more bout San Marco by Design, visit

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Cash Mob

The next cash mob is Wednesday, July 18th at noon.  Where?

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Music to my ears

A true symphony of art, fun design, and function, the Dresden Court of Water was designed by Heike Bottcher in 1999. A series of funnel and tubes turns an ordinary shower into a melody while capturing the rainwater.

Click the link to view it on Inhabitat.

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mini cheviot

A mini cheviot lamb bounces through the bluebonnets.


Someday we’ll have a farm, or at least we’ll convince the city that this is our dog.

For more information on the mini cheviot, check out this blog:


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