Healthy living and active towns, with John Simmerman


presented by SCC

John Simmerman is the president and CEO of Active Towns, a non-profit to get people…you guessed it…more active. We were both attending the 21st Congress for the New Urbanism in Salt Lake City. In between sessions and festivities, we had a chance to sit down and talk healthy living. (No, we didn’t go for a walk. We just sat there.)


What is an active town?

Here’s what John has to say about that: “Active Towns are those special places which are particularly inviting and invigorating environments. They help to encourage and engage their populous in leading active lives. Please join us as we search for and promote Active Towns.”


Livability and killability

Hawaii is a paradise, right? Not if you judge it by its streets. John talks about the development of Hawaii, most of which occurred after World War II. Groups like Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii (PATH) were born out of tragedy on public streets. John talks about how his interests expanded from athletics to development patterns to new urbanism. Some of the major influences in his journey include James Kunstler, Jan Gehl, and Strong Towns (Chuck Marohn).


“I want to visit that place!”

What makes a destination attractive and inviting? John talks about documenting what’s special about active towns to create a database for others to tap into. The hardware of a place. His plan is to dig further into each location he studies to document how it happened. The software of a place.


The double entendre.

The advocacy of Active Towns intentionally includes double meanings. Health is both physical and fiscal. Active is both physical and emotional. Listen to John’s explanation for more details.


Connect with our guest

John would love for you to check out his website and follow the updates from Active Towns.



Urbanism Speakeasy listeners: try Audible FREE for 30 days and get a FREE audiobook. Check out books about great places to go for a hike. Give Audible a try.