Osseo

Planning through A Public Health Lens

The City of Osseo took a unique approach to its 2040 Comprehensive Plan by writing it through a public health lens. Public health is a comprehensive, prevention-based
approach to promoting human wellbeing. It acknowledges the influence of medical care and biology, but asserts that social and environmental factors also play a significant role
in determining health. Throughout the Plan, the City highlights five health themes that demonstrate its goals for the future: access to healthy food, physical activity and active living, community safety, social health and equity, and healthy natural and built environment. These themes emerged from community input during the engagement process. The City also used the Social Determinants of Health as a framework for developing these themes.

<div class='lb-heading'>Community Members Biking in Downtown Osseo</div><div class='lb-text'>The City encourages its residents to lead active lifestyles and take advantage of the various opportunities for walking and biking throughout the community. In recent years, the City has worked to improve the walkability, bikability, and overall connectivity of the community, especially in the Downtown area. </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Five Health Themes</div><div class='lb-text'>These icons represent the five health themes highlighted throughout the City’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan Update. 

From left to right:
1. Physical Activity and Active Living
2. Community Safety
3. Access to Healthy Food
4. Healthy Natural and Built Environment
5. Social Health and Equity </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Osseo “Step To It” Walking Routes</div><div class='lb-text'>As part of a campaign called “Step To It”, the City mapped out 1- and 2-mile walking routes in the community to promote greater physical activity and active living opportunities. This sign can be found in Boerboom Veterans Memorial Park across from City Hall. </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Henry J. Boerboom Veterans Memorial Park </div><div class='lb-text'>Located across from City Hall, Boerboon Veterans Memorial Park offers a bandshell where concerts, performances, and movie screenings are held during the summer months. The park offers a beautiful open space perfect for walks, picnics, and other community gatherings. In the summer, the Osseo Farmers Market opens next to the park. During this time, local vendors sell a wide range of fresh produce and other goods—just another way the City promotes access to healthy foods throughout the community!</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Grand Opening of the Osseo Orchard</div><div class='lb-text'>The City partnered with New Hope-based nonprofit The Food Group to create a community orchard, the Osseo Orchard. The harvests from the orchard will benefit the community by increasing access to healthy, locally-sourced food.  In September ‘17, volunteers planted over 30 trees and fruiting shrubs. The orchard currently includes apples, pears, plums, and cherries. Hennepin County’s “Creating Healthier Communities” grant and the MN Department of Health’s SHIP supported the planning of this event. </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Osseo “Step To It” Walking Routes</div><div class='lb-text'>In 2019, Osseo participated in Hennepin County’s “Step To It” Challenge. Approximately 80 people as part of the City’s team tracked their physical activity including biking, fitness classes, walking, skateboarding, lawnmowing, gardening, and vacuuming, etc. To promote the challenge, the City mapped out 1- & 2-mile walking routes in the community. This sign can be found in the Veteran’s Park. The City also designated the park “Tobacco-Free Grounds” to advance the goals of the “Healthier Osseo”. </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Osseo “Step To It” Walking Routes</div><div class='lb-text'>The City used white and blue arrows to guide community members along the 1- and 2-mile walking paths. 
</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Walking Routes in the City </div><div class='lb-text'>The City mapped out 1- and 2-mile walking routes in the community to promote greater physical activity and active living opportunities.
</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Grand Opening of the Osseo Orchard</div><div class='lb-text'>The City partnered with New Hope-based nonprofit The Food Group to create a community orchard, the Osseo Orchard. Hennepin County’s “Creating Healthier Communities” grant and the Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) supported the planning of this event. </div><div class='lb-link'><a href='https://www.discoverosseo.com/blog/osseo-orchard/ ' target='_blank'>Osseo Orchard</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Community Visioning Event</div><div class='lb-text'>Many residents participated in the City’s community visioning events to inform the 2040 Comprehensive Plan Update.
</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Community Engagement Pop-Up Events</div><div class='lb-text'>The City conducted several pop-up community engagement events leading up to the development of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan Update. This photo shows the booth the City hosted at its annual community event, Lion’s Roar, in 2016. 
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Click image to open image gallery.

The City decided to take this approach to planning due to its desire to improve community health and vitality. It believes it can achieve this goal by promoting health across a broad spectrum of city life and services. As a result, the City hopes Osseo will be a healthy place to live for all generations—now and in the future.

What may help other communities?

Community Engagement

In the years leading up to its 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the City employed a variety of engagement efforts to determine the community’s vision for the future. These efforts included pop-up events, community visioning meetings, and steering committee feedback. Throughout this process, the City listened to personal accounts of people’s experiences living and
working in Osseo. Despite the broad range of feedback, the community’s responses often revolved around a common topic: health. This pattern drove the City’s decision to frame the comprehensive plan from a public health perspective. Throughout the Plan, the City clearly presents the influence of community voices on its proposed policies. Most chapters have a “What We Heard” section that lists the community’s top priorities as determined by the City’s engagement efforts. By incorporating the community perspective, the City personalized its vision for the future in a way that prioritizes its residents’ health and wellbeing.

Putting the Plan in Perspective

Planning through a public health lens allowed the City to address the complexity and intersectionality of health in the context of its community. Long-range planning occurs at a high level and it can be difficult for people to connect with a twenty-year vision.

In response to this reality, the City attempted to bridge this gap by using a public health lens to demonstrate the Plan’s direct impact on the community and on individual residents. This decision stems from the fact that health is an extremely personal concept to which all people can relate. As a result, this approach not only fosters community engagement, but promotes better understanding of the implications and importance of long-range planning. Increased community involvement in the planning process also acts as an accountability measure for the City to help ensure the implementation of action items outlined in the Plan.

Applying Health to All Plan Elements

The City’s approach to planning through a public health lens demonstrates the applicability of health across a range of plan elements including land use, transportation, housing, parks, and water resources. Regarding land use, the City plans to limit the number of fast food retailers and work to attract businesses with a health-promotion focus. In its Parks and Community Facilities section, the City discusses its plans to encourage adding community garden plots in conjunction with high-density development, develop health-related education and programming, and support initiatives to integrate health, nutrition, and cooking education in local schools.

The City also plans to address growing concerns around food insecurity in the community. It believes that ensuring adequate nutrition is an essential first step to progressing other health indicators. In 2017, the City partnered with local nonprofits to create the Osseo Orchard, a fruit tree and berry orchard located on the south end of the Osseo Public Works building site. The orchard will provide a wealth of health benefits to the community as residents are welcome to visit the orchard and take advantage of ripe produce. The remaining produce will also be distributed to local food shelves. Space remains available at the site for future community planting or recreational activities.

Collaboration and Partnerships

The City’s efforts to promote public health were supported by the Creating Healthier Communities project, a financial and technical assistance program sponsored by Active Living Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). This project took a broad approach to promoting community-wide health in Osseo by examining the influence of policies, systems, and environments. The City later used this information to inform the framework for its comprehensive plan and the development of its five health themes. These efforts were also guided by a community leadership team comprised of city and county staff, residents, officials, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders.

Contact the City of Osseo

Nancy Smebak Abts – City Planner, (763) 425-1454; Nabts@ci.osseo.mn.us​

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