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Shaping the Healthy Community
The Nashville Plan

Author(s): Gary Gaston, Christine M. Kreyling

The shape we give to our city, in turn, shapes us. The form that Americans began to give to their cities and suburbs in the years following World War II has molded an increasingly underactive, overweight population subject to a variety of preventable diseases, as well as an environment with degraded air and water quality. Shaping the Healthy Community explores the relationships between the built environment and public health and presents an action plan for a healthier city.

The book analyzes Nashville, Tennessee, using the "transect," an urban planning model central to the New Urbanist and smart growth movements. By considering the seven "transect zones"—natural, rural, suburban, urban, downtown, centers, and districts—the book provides a diagnosis of the health-promoting and health-defeating aspects of each.

Strategies tailored to each zone focus on six built environment factors that impact health: neighborhood design and development, transportation, walkability and pedestrian safety, food resources, housing, and open space and parks. Individual chapters include case studies of specific neighborhoods, contributions by experts, infographics, site photographs, and detailed before-and-after visualizations.

Shaping the Healthy Community presents real-world facts, policy recommendations, and design strategies to enable health and planning professionals, developers and designers, educators and community organizations to build places in which healthy practices can be part of daily life.

Like The Plan of Nashville: Avenues to a Great City, this book is a collaboration of the Nashville Civic Design Center, Vanderbilt University Creative Services, and Vanderbilt University Press.

Biography of Author(s)

Gary Gaston, Director of the Nashville Civic Design Center, is a lecturer with the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design. He is co-author of Moving Tennessee Forward: Models for Connecting Communities and executive producer of the 2012 NEA-funded documentary film Design Your Neighborhood.
Christine M. Kreyling, architecture and urban planning critic for the Nashville Scene and adjunct curator of the Cheekwood Museum of Art, has won numerous awards for her writing on art, architecture, and urban planning. A member of several national architecture and museum organizations, she is an M.A. candidate in the Department of Fine Arts at Vanderbilt, working on a thesis concerning 19th-century American domestic architecture.


  • "Twenty-first-century cities are reinventing themselves, and the best and brightest want to live in lively, healthy places. Cities must tell their stories to the world, as Nashville has done, beautifully."
    --Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH, was for nine years Director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health
  • "Nashville, the city that has shaped our popular culture and made it global, now stands to help us rethink our built environment. Though this book's focus is on one unique American city, its findings provide metropolitan cultures everywhere with a blueprint for healthy living. With their thorough research and analysis, the authors point the way to achieving the human- and Earth-centered places our century is ready to embrace."
    --Susan S. Szenasy, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Metropolis Magazine
  • "Nashville is already a national leader in the health care industry, but I want nothing less than for us to be a national leader in health. As a physician and a policymaker, my mantra has become 'make the healthy choice the easy choice.' Shaping the Healthy Community is about just that."
    --from the Preface by Senator William H. Frist, MD