Mary Pat Teague, Associate Director of Community, Neighborhood and Governement Relations, shares the many resources for getting outdoors to enjoy the spring weather in both the Vanderbilt and larger Nashville communities. From greenways and bike-friendly events to pop-up parks and bike-sharing, there is something for everyone to enhance your health and connection to your community this spring!
Bridgette Butler: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt Health and Wellness Wellcast. I'm Bridgette Butler with Health Plus. Spring weather and longer days are here. Take advantage by getting out and getting active in your community. Today, we have Mary Pat Teague, Associate Director of Community, Neighborhood & Government Relations with us. As part of her work at Vanderbilt, Mary Pat is very engaged in the community, including serving on the Mayor's Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Walk Bike Nashville. Welcome, Mary Pat. Thank you for being with us today.
Mary Pat Teague: Oh, thank you very much for having it. I look forward to this.
Bridgette Butler: What are the benefits of getting out and getting active in the community this spring?
Mary Pat Teague: For me, it‘s a mental health break. We have this wonderful campus that I enjoy walking across, all of the paths, maybe pick up lunch over at the little cafe on the Peabody side of campus, or walking over to Hillsboro Village. So to me, it is a mental health break during the day, and I guess on the weekends, it continues on for that, and there are so many great places to go in Nashville to enjoy and take advantage of the outdoors.
Bridgette Butler: It is a bit of a mental health break and then also a little bit of exercise, it sounds like.
Mary Pat Teague: Oh, yes, of course. In this day and age most of us are indoors in our job. It is important to get out and move around.
Bridgette Butler: What types of community resources are available to everyone at Vanderbilt and in Nashville?
Mary Pat Teague: Well, the most obvious one for the Vanderbilt community is Centennial Park. I mean, it is literally a five-minute walk from campus, even closer for some people, but it is just across West End. It has got trails over there you can walk on and enjoy the beautiful flowers. On the weekend or after work, even, there are so many more bike lanes that are popping up that are leading into campus or leading away from campus when you are heading home that you can take advantage of, and most of them now are becoming the protected bike lanes, so there is actually some kind of physical barrier between the bike lane and the traffic - kind of an added feature of safety to it. The greenways through Nashville is just a wonderful gem that we have in this city, and soon there will be a greenway that is called the 440 Greenway that they are working on that will connect to the far end of Centennial Park. Another weekend fun thing to do is ballroom dancing in Centennial Park. On Saturday nights, oftentimes they have free ballroom dancing lessons, and then they will have sometimes big band music or something along that line, and it is just fun. Another one of my favorite places, if you are down again by the Pedestrian Bridge, is down by the new Ascend Amphitheatre in downtown Nashville, there is a greenway trail there that runs on the Westside of the river, it has a tree trail as well, which stops, and it tells you what trees you are seeing along the way. So, you can kind of learn a little bit and enjoy that aspect of it, too. I feel like, on campus, Health Plus and SustainVU have done a great job. If you happen to bike to work, they have a listing on their websites about where showers are located on campus. Especially as it gets warmer, that is something you will need if you bike to work.. And also, you could take one of the dockless bikes, a program that is coming on campus. You could take that and ride it over to anywhere on campus, possibly over to Centennial Park, or go to run an errand over in Hillsboro Village or down to the Kroger at lunch, and then bring it back, and so you can build in a little bit of exercise while you are actually out running an errand, which, to me, is like a win-win for everybody.
Bridgette Butler: That is a lot of really great resources in the community and at Vanderbilt. You mentioned a couple of parks, and I was curious about the pop-up parks and the parklets that are coming to Nashville. Would you be able to tell us a little bit about those?
Mary Pat Teague: Yes. This is sort of two parts of this. There is a movement called "PARK(ing) Day," which happens in a Friday in September around the country where cities take parking spaces and turn them into a temporary park, and that is called a "PARK(ing)" day. It has become very popular, and the Nashville Civic Design Center, which is a nonprofit organization in Nashville, runs this, and they have different businesses that sponsor them. Vanderbilt has sponsored one. Last fall we did one and it was a lot of fun. They had activities out there. It was just a place to go and clear your head during the day. You could even take some work out there and sit on a bench and do a little work while you are out there. So, that is like a huge movement that is going on, and now there has been several more. And I believe there is another one that is being planned for this year. So, it is a huge movement, and it is all tying in with FutureVU's activities and efforts to sort of green certain areas of the campus that hadn't really been as green as sort of the historic part of the campus and make them more pedestrian and bike-friendly, so people feel that they can get out and enjoy that. And one thing else I could mention too, that downtown has a lot going on, but in the summer, they have "Live on the Green," which is like a Thursday night and they will have live entertainment down there, a band, on Public Square Park in front of the courthouse - a fun event to go to, but also, what they have there is the organization Walk Bike Nashville has bike valet. You can take your bike there, no charge, and they will valet park it right there behind them in a corral and keep track of it for you and watch it so you don't have to worry about it. You can just enjoy the festivities. So, it makes it easier to do something like ride a bike down there, and if you don't have a bike, there is always the possibility of B-cycle, which are all over the city. You can take those short-term bike rentals, and you can rent one of those for a very low cost and ride to the park, listen to the music, and then ride back to wherever you picked up the bike. Thinking of fun things to do as well, if you want to combine walking and fitness with a little bit of art, is you could do the walk downtown and look at all the new murals that are coming up all over the buildings downtown, and they've got a lot of very talented international artists who have done a lot of great murals downtown. That could be available at the website, which we will provide for you.
Bridgette Butler: Those are fantastic resources and really, so many opportunities for ways to get out this spring and be active, maybe spend some time with friends and family, get into the community. Yeah, that's great.
Mary Pat Teague: Yeah, and the thing is, too, that ... speaking of family, the greenway is a really great place to take your children, young children in particular, and they are having the best time out there, and the parents can still get some exercise, and the kids are also learning from the parents the importance of exercise and how exercise and fitness are fun and it's not just ... it doesn't have to be an organized thing. It can just be go out there to the greenway and just go ride a bike or walk with the kids or skip or whatever you are going to do. You know, it's a fun thing.
Bridgette Butler: I definitely am looking forward to this amazing spring weather and getting outside and getting into the community and taking advantage of a lot of these resources. Thank you so much for sharing them with us today.
Mary Pat Teague: Oh, you're welcome. You're welcome. It was my pleasure. Thank you.