Editorial - A neat idea to encourage walkingThe mild sunshiny weather of the past few days should put people in a mood to burn off some calories and stress with one simple activity: walking.
The mild sunshiny weather of the past few days should put people in a mood to burn off some calories and stress with one simple activity: walking.
And now, thanks to a new Douglas County initiative called “Active Living” you can learn something along the way as well.
The Active Living organizers have put together free “Walk & Explore Maps” to encourage residents to walk around the beautiful lakes area of Alexandria and discover some interesting history along the way.
The first series of maps contain easy-to-follow routes, ranging from 1.78 miles to 3.30 miles through five areas of the city identified as “Kinkead,” “City Park,” “Court House,” “Douglas County Historical Society” and “The Silk Stocking District.”
The free maps are available at the Echo Press, Alexandria City Hall, Douglas County Public Works, Douglas County Historical Society, Lakes Area Recreation, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Douglas County Court House, Douglas County Library, Glenwood State Bank of Alexandria, Alexandria Extrusion Company, Douglas County Hospital, Alexandria Technical College, Jefferson High School and Douglas County Public Health.
Key destination points along each route are identified and explained in the maps.
The map for the Silk Stocking District, for example, highlights six historic homes, such as the Vernacular Victorian, one and a half story house at 521 7th Avenue West. It was built by Lorenzo and Sarah Sims back in 1876. Mr. Sims started the first drug store in Alexandria, the map notes, and Sara Sims was the sister of William Hicks, owner of town site lots in Alexandria. Later, George and Mary Robards, co-owner of Cowing-Robards Hardware, owned the house.
The newspaper reported about the Active Living Douglas County effort in a front-page story on February 10. Organizers want to create a healthy community that makes active living a routine part of daily life.
Goals include improving the local transportation system to safely accommodate bicycling and walking; creating safe routes to schools so students walk or bike there safely; promoting recreational opportunities; and encouraging employees to walk and bike to and from work.
The Alexandria walking maps are just a start to what Active Living will be offering countywide this spring and summer. The group plans to release five Alexandria bicycling route maps this spring to be displayed alongside the walking maps.
In addition, Active Living is also working with smaller cities in Douglas County like Osakis, Brandon and Evansville to develop similar walking and bicycling maps over the course of the spring and summer months.
Businesses interested in obtaining a walking/bicycling map display may contact Misty Hvezda at Douglas County Public Health, (320) 762-2973 to receive one. They are free of charge.
Those leading the charge for the Active Living effort deserve recognition. It’s a cooperative partnership that includes Alexandria School District 206, Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria Light and Power, the city of Alexandria, Douglas County Land and Resource Management, Douglas County Public Health, Douglas County Public Works and West Central Wellness.
Combining walking, learning and bits of local history is a neat idea, one that promises to make residents not only healthier, but more connected to the place they call home. It’s a creative incentive to get in better shape. Now it’s up to residents to take the next step.