Saint Paul Healthy Transportation for All convening to empower citizens, build relationships for transportation equity

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On October 25, residents and grassroots community leaders from across Saint Paul will come together with elected representatives and transportation officials to begin plotting the path to a healthier and more equitable transportation system for all in Saint Paul.

This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

The Saint Paul Healthy Transportation for All convening (SPHTFA) is a daylong kick-off event designed to educate, engage and empower Saint Paul residents from diverse backgrounds to play an active role in shaping their city’s transportation systems. Participants will be encouraged to lead their communities in creating better transportation systems; share the information, resources and tools to do so; and begin building necessary relationships with city, regional, and state government and transportation representatives.

Mayor Chris Coleman will open the convening with remarks beginning at 9:00 a.m. Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, and Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner, Charlie Zelle, will both present keynote speeches. Other policy officials, legislators and community members will come together for sessions throughout the day addressing a wide variety of healthy transportation issues, tools and processes that include Racial Equity and Transit, a Q & A with a panel of transportation officials, Demystifying Saint Paul’s Transportation Funding Process and much more.

Successful transportation infrastructure can help build strong and equitable communities, support local economies and promote healthy lifestyles. However, new transportation projects historically have not always benefitted the communities most affected by them. Oftentimes, voices from the communities that stand to benefit most from improved transportation choices are not heard in the decision-making process.

“Improved transportation can help address disparities in health, economic vitality and access to opportunity if the community processes that inform decisions about funding are inclusive and represent the interests of every community in Saint Paul,” says Lauren Fulner, transportation and sustainability coordinator for the Hamline Midway Coalition and SPHTFA project coordinator.

Organized in partnership with a broad coalition of community organizations and government representatives and designed around the input of community members from neighborhoods across Saint Paul, SPHFTA will provide participants the tools and knowledge to affect transportation planning, and begin to build the cross cultural relationships needed to do so in an equitable way. The convening is intended to be the first in a series of events, partnerships and collaborations that improve equity in transportation into the future.

“To truly create equitable transportation development, a diversity of voices must be present at the decision-making table early in the process,” says Tong Thao, community organizer with East Side Transit Equity. “During planning for the Green Line LRT, it was the actions of community leaders from the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods that ensured their communities were not bypassed. To make sure future transportation decisions reflect what communities want and need, we must engage in the planning process early and often.”

To learn more, register and attend the event, please visit http://stphealthytransportation.wordpress.com/