From Partnership to Policy

The Evolution of Active Living by Design in Portland, Oregon


      Portland's Active Living by Design focused on two communities facing different active living challenges: Lents is an urban, lower-income community with poor bicycle/pedestrian and park infrastructure, and Damascus is a semirural community expected to see extensive urban growth in the next 30 years.


      Pilot projects were implemented in a semirural community with considerable growth potential, and a lower-income, ethnically diverse urban neighborhood. The partners' primary active-living goals included: prepare and sustain a network of public health, planning, community, and policymaking partners; affect urban planning and policy decisions to influence built-environment changes in Portland neighborhoods; and support active-living program and promotion partners.


      Partners have focused on building capacity for cross-disciplinary collaboration and leading strategic efforts toward policy, environmental, and social change. Partners have been engaged in policy advocacy and strategic campaign initiatives, as well as community program efforts that bring active living opportunities to underserved neighborhoods.

      Lessons learned

      The ALbD community-action model served as a valuable tool for organizing intervention activities and bringing diverse partners together under a shared vision. Public health professionals engaged in land-use and transportation collaborations must strike a balance between becoming experts in technical aspects of new disciplines and addressing a wide range of active living determinants. Embracing a healthy community agenda can create fruitful new partnerships and increase the impact on systemic change.


      Many of the partnerships' collaborative efforts to encourage healthy communities through policy, environmental, and social change have been largely successful and can serve as a model for other communities.
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