Healthy Maine Partnerships - The people dedicated to helping us live longer and healthier

Training & Events

Active Communities Conference 2013
Walking, Biking, Physical Activity

May 7, 2013
Waterville, Maine

View this years sessions
Thank you to our Conference Sponsors – without whom this would not be possible.

$4,000 Level   Maine CDC Division of Population Health 
$2,000 Level   Maine DACF – Department of Conservation 
$1,000 Level   Wright-Pierce 
$500 Level      Maine Coastal Program, Bicycle Coalition of Maine (in kind) 
$350 Level      Department of Education – Operations & Student Services
$250 Level      Richardson & Associates, Maine Association of Planners,
                       Inland Hospital
In Kind            Maine Department of Transportation

Miriam E. Nelson, PhD

Miriam Nelson, PhD is professor of Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and founder and director of the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention at Tufts University. She also co-directs ChildObesity180, a multi-sector, childhood obesity prevention initiative.

As a leader in research targeting physical activity, nutrition, and public health, Dr. Nelson has published on the impact of both nutrition and exercise on the prevention of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and arthritis. Based on her innovative research, Dr. Nelson has published nine books including Strong Women Stay Young and four other New York Times bestsellers. Her tenth book, The Social Network Diet: Change Yourself, Change the World, was published September 2011. Together, these books have sold over a million copies in fourteen languages. Dr. Nelsonís research has been the foundation of the StrongWomen Program, a community based nutrition and exercise program for women currently being implemented in over thirty-five states.


Public and private sector professionals in the fields of Public Health, Transportation, Parks & Recreation, Planning, Public Safety, Economic Development and Public Works, as well as Elected Officials, Citizens, City and Town Mangers, Business Owners and others interested in improving their communities!


  • What an"active community environment" is and why it is important.
  • The economic benefits of active communities
  • Funding opportunities to support this work.
  • How others have been successful in their communities.
  • Ways to make your community more "active" through planning and design.and more

Maine’s 6th Annual
Active Community Conference
Conference Sessions Overview

Session information will be updated as new information becomes available – please check back often.


Session Map At A Glance (PDF)

Directions and Parking Information (PDF)

9:15am – Welcome

9:30 am - Keynote

Creating Active Communities: Change Yourself, Your Community, and the World

  • Miriam Nelson PhD, professor of Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and founder and director of the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention at Tufts University

The global obesity epidemic is influenced strongly by current lack of physical activity and sedentary behavior in both children and adults. Less than 10% of all Americans meet the amount of activity recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. A number of factors influencing these sedentary lifestyles and the overall trend of obesity are beyond control at the individual level. It is therefore essential to engage communities in innovative projects that improve conditions for healthy and active lifestyles.

In the fall of 2011, Dr. Miriam Nelson drove 6,900 miles across America as part of the StrongWomen Across America tour. The objective of this ambitious community engagement project was to work with local leaders in eight small, rural communities to improve the physical activity and food environment in each community. Using a community-based participatory model, Dr. Nelson and colleagues identified local leaders, conducted community audits, engaged the press, and the overall community to come together to create positive change. In her keynote talk, Dr. Nelson will highlight a number of lessons learned from this experience that will be helpful to the conference participants. She will also highlight some other work that she is involved in related to improving physical activity environments nationally.

10:45 am - Breakouts

Safe Routes to School & Bike-Ped Safety Education Programs

  • Erik daSilva, M.S., Program Coordination Assistant of the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program
  • Sarah Cushman, Southern Maine Planner for the Maine Safe Routes to School Program
  • Darcy Whittemore, Program Coordinator for the Maine Safe Routes to School Program
  • Betsy Critchfield, Coordinator of the Portland Walking School Bus Program, a pilot project of the Maine Safe Routes to School Program.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, in partnership with the Maine Department of Transportation, provides two programs that promote safe walking and bicycling for Maine school children. This session will provide an overview of Maine's nationally recognized bicycle/pedestrian safety program, which directly reaches nearly 13,000 people annually. You will also receive highlights from the Maine Safe Routes to School Program, including how it assists with school travel planning and walk and bike to school encouragement events to schools serving grades K-8. Join us to learn how both of these programs create safe walkable, bikeable communities one neighborhood at a time.

Transportation & Public Health

  • Zoe Miller, Director Healthy Lakes HMP / Opportunity Alliance, PHiT co-founder
  • Paul Niehoff, Senior Transportation Planner – PACTS & avid cyclist
  • Elizabeth Trice, Grants & Special Projects Coordinator - Cumberland County, PHiT co-founder

Millions of dollars is spent every year on creating and maintaining a built environment that can either encourage or hinder physical activity. Members from PHiT, a coalition of public health and transportation professionals in the Greater Portland area will share tools for educating stakeholders and decision makers about the connection between transportation and health and how joining forces with transportation planners can be a major asset for community engagement. The session will share the experience of the group's formation, and give people a “cheatsheet” on what to share and a presentation template they can tweak for their needs.

Recreational Options for People with Disabilities

  • Eric Topper, Outreach Director – Maine Adaptive Sports
  • Michie O’Day, deaf and physically challenged cyclist

Considering all users in planning and design can help all people with all abilities to be active. This session will discuss the need to incorporate access to recreation for people with disabilities during planning, construction and education efforts. The session will also feature a firsthand account of the benefits access can bring.

Measuring the Built Environment - RALA

  • David Hartley, PhD – Director Maine Rural Health Research Center USM

This session will revisit the Rural Active Living Assessment Tools presented at the Active Communities Conference last year. Since all of Maine's Healthy Maine Partnerships are now using these tools, the presentation will be focused on specific issues that HMPs have faced in using RALA, with plenty of time for questions and discussion of modifications to accommodate local needs.

Kennebec/ Messalonskee Trails

  • Peter Garrett PhD, Emery & Garrett Groundwater Investigations, LLC & President Kennebec Messalonskee Trails

Greater Waterville trails now total >30 miles, with more planned. You will hear stories of how trails enthusiasts organized, planned feasibility, engaged municipalities and others, and set in motion a conversation about creating trails and a biking, walking community. Get ideas here if you are starting a trail system for your community

Landowner Relations101 and Advanced Studies

  • Dr. Jessica Leahy, Professor, School of Forest Resources – University of Maine Orono
  • Bob Myers, Executive Director - Maine Snowmobile Association
  • Tom Doak, Executive Director, Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine
  • Don Kleiner, Executive Director, Maine Professional Guides Association
  • Mark Latti, Director of Public Access and Landowner Relations, Maine Dept. IF&W

Considering that Maine is nearly 94% private property; successful landowner relations are a key element to building and maintaining successful trail networks. Learn from the experts, strategies and initiatives that have kept trails open and landowners happy. Groundbreaking research has been completed regarding landowner attitudes towards public recreation and a new project that is underway will be gauging recreationists' attitudes toward private landowners. Learn how you and your organization can be a part of this research and how it will benefit all users in the years ahead.

Walking Audit #1

  • Scott Workman

Walking Conditions Tour. Rain or shine, we will walk throughout the Downtown area reviewing existing sidewalks, cross-walks with and without pedestrian lights, problems with parked cars, ADA accessibility and more. We’ll be asking questions about safety, ease of movement, street furniture and more.

12:00pm Box Lunch & Networking

Take your boxed lunch and find the opportunity among the exhibitors and your peers to network in and around The Center and Opera House. If the weather cooperates we encourage you to get outside and find a nice spot to fuel up for the rest of the day. If conditions do not allow, attendees will have to lunch in any of the rooms used for breakouts.

1:00pm - Breakouts

Funding Your Project

  • Dan Stewart, Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Small Harbor Improvement Programs Manager for the Maine Department of Transportation

So you know what to do, but you’re wondering how to make it a reality?  Come to this session to learn about options, processes, and funding opportunities and how to best prepare for them.  This presentation will focus on what options are available for people to improve communities through pedestrian, bicycle, multi-use trail, downtown, village, and recreational trail improvements and projects.


  • Douglas Beck, Physical Activity Coordinator – Maine CDC Division of Population Health
  • Rebecca Drewette – Card MSPH, President - Public Health Partners

Built Environment Assessment Tools (BEAT) - is a collection of tools that can be used to evaluate your local built environment, or a portion of that environment, for its ability to support or promote physical activity. Health Impact Assessment (HIA) evaluates the anticipated effect on health for any proposed program, project or policy. This session will provide an overview of these tools, discuss how they can be used to improve health and let you know where you can find more information.

Road & Trail Wayfinding for Cyclists & Pedestrians

  • Jennifer Claster RLA, Landscape Architect – Wright Pierce
  • Brad Woodworth SEGD, President - Woodworth Associates
  • Carl Eppich AICP, Transportation Planner - PACTS

Wayfinding for cyclists and pedestrians is increasingly recognized as a valuable part of a community’s transportation infrastructure. Good signage demonstrates a municipality’s support of cycling and walking and can encourage use of sidewalks, paths, and dedicated bicycle facilities by making the transportation system more understandable. This session will focus on specific recent efforts to improve wayfinding for bicyclists and pedestrians in several Maine communities, including an update on regional bicycle wayfinding through coastal greater Portland.Evaluating Economic & Health

Benefits of Community Projects

  • Carl Knoch, Manager of Trail Development - Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • James Fisher, Senior Planner – Hancock County Planning Commission

Demonstrating the direct and indirect benefits of trails that support active community programs is an essential step for navigating the zero-based budgeting process. Presentations will highlight ways to assess the levels of local and regional impacts your trail is having, and how to present these impacts to local and state officials. The case of the Down East Sunrise Trail will be highlighted.

Trail Volunteers – Worth Their Weight in Gold

  • Kara Wooldrik, Executive Director – Portland Trails
  • Charlie Baldwin, Volunteer Coordinator – Portland Trails
  • Jamie Parker, Trails Manager – Portland Trails

Participants will engage in a group discussion and problem-solving effort to determine the best ways to utilize volunteers of all ages and abilities to build, maintain and strengthen a trail network, and build community.

Universal Design: New ADA Rules

  • Rex Turner, Outdoor Recreation Planner – Maine Division of Parks & Public Lands
  • Jill Johanning; Architect, Alpha One

Recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act mandate expanded opportunities for persons with disabilities to use "other power driven mobility devices" (OPDMDs) on trails not specifically managed for motor-powered devices. Learn more about this legal change, how to balance providing legally mandated motorized trail access while protecting trail resources, and how to begin assessing trails for OPDMDs. Particular focus will be given to the set of trail assessment tools and protocols developed by Maine Parks and Public Lands.

Biking Audit

  • Jim Tasse PhD, Director, Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Education – Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Bicycle Facilities and Conditions Tour—take a bike ride through Downtown Waterville during one of your breakouts! What makes a roadway good--or bad--to ride on? Learn about bike lanes, shared lane markings, multi-use paths and bike boulevards, and brainstorm on possible solutions to problem areas.

Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA)

  • Dawn Littlefield-Gordon, CTG Grant Manager -

PARA is a brief, one-page instrument to systematically document and describe the type, features, amenities, quality and incivilities of a variety of physical activity resources. (e.g., parks, churches, schools, sports facilities, fitness centers, community centers, and trails). PARA assesses the entire community or section of the community (neighborhood) relative to its ability to support physical activity

2:15pm - Breakouts

Promoting Outdoor Lifestyles - Ideas for Rural Communities

  • Lauren Jacobs, Maine Winter Sports Center - Healthy Hometowns Coach - Central Maine

Rural areas of Maine provide many opportunities for outdoor recreation, but they also present many challenges when it comes to accessing those opportunities. This session will discuss the ways that Healthy Hometowns and the Maine Winter Sports Center have addressed these challenges over the last 13 years of working in rural Maine. Topics will include creating school-based outdoor facilities, increasing programming opportunities, and addressing transportation, equipment, and leadership needs.

ACE Teams & ACET Roundtable

  • Douglas Beck, Physical Activity Coordinator – Maine CDC Division of Population Health

After a brief overview of the Active Community Environment Team (ACET) initiative, we will invite those doing the work to share experiences. Each ACET takes a different form based on the local resources and readiness, but all have a central and shared goal of improving the local built environment's capacity to promote and support increased physical activity. This session will give all who have embarked on ACET an opportunity to learn from others, share in early success and struggles and otherwise benefit from the opportunity to network.

Community Bicycle / Pedestrian Plans

  • Bob Faunce, Planner - Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission

Having completed five bike-ped plans for communities in Lincoln County that have been reviewed and approved by MDOT, Bob has practical experience you can benefit from. This session would explain how local citizens can inventory bike-ped needs in their community, solicit public input and create a plan that prioritizes future bike-ped improvements.

Fostering Successful Community Partnerships

  • Nancy Randolph, Co-chair of Androscoggin Riverwalk, Chair Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org, publisher with Just Write Books and former Topsham Selectman and Brunswick Town Councilor.
  • Tom Farrell, Director – Brunswick Parks & Recreation Department
  • Anna Breinich AICP, Director – Brunswick Planning & Development
  • Jonathan Edgerton, Vice President – Wright Pierce
  • Anthony L. Muench RLA, Landscape Architect

The Town of Brunswick has built several projects that began as partnership programs. The much touted Brunswick Bike Path is the most visible. The rehabilitation of the historic Androscoggin Pedestrian Swinging Bridge is another partnership project that grew to include the Town of Topsham staff and resources, business and community members in addition to Brunswick’s. Currently the Town of Brunswick awaits the Quality Community Fund grant award decision to complete the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk. That project, the grant application process and the funding for the project is the genesis for this panel discussion.

Androscoggin Greenway Plan

  • Amanda Bunker, Community & Land Use Planner – Wright Pierce
  • Jennifer Claster RLA, Landscape Architect – Wright Pierce
  • Jonathan LaBonte, Executive Director - Androscoggin Land Trust, Mayor -City of Auburn

A regional greenway (trails and water access) along the Androscoggin River has been envisioned since the 1990s, to ultimately provide a continuum of public access along the river for health, recreation, and transportation. With the leadership of the Androscoggin Land Trust, the communities of Lewiston and Auburn collaborated to develop a Greenway Plan for their segment of the river corridor, beginning the transformation from vision to action. This session will describe the community planning process, describe the many collaborations and partnerships involved (including overlapping studies and planning efforts), and describe the challenges of implementing the plan as a joint/cooperative effort of both cities and the land trust.

West Side Trails – Building Trails Builds Community

  • Daniel Ostrye, Chairman – Yarmouth Bicycle Pedestrian Committee

The Yarmouth Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee resurrected a 20 year-old plan to build a pathway on the CMP transmission corridor and turned it into a successful community-building project. The mulit-use trail building initiative was made possible through a collaborative effort with local civic organization and regional bike and health advocacy groups. Get inspired by this story to return to your community and feel empowered to take on big projects

Walking Audit

  • Peter Garrett PhD, Emery & Garrett Groundwater Investigations, LLC & President Kennebec Messalonskee Trails
  • Rex Turner, Outdoor Recreation Planner – Maine Division of Parks & Public Lands

You will take walks from the Waterville Library through residential and downtown sections. As a group you will comment on good design and, through questioning, see how improvements could be made. Want to create a pedestrian-friendly community? – this is one for you.

Environmental Assessment of Public Recreation Spaces (EAPRS)

  • Jamie Comstock, Health Promotion Program Manager – Bangor Health & Community Services

All parks and playgrounds are not equal. The EAPRS Measurement Tool provides a comprehensive direct observation assessment of the physical environments of parks and playgrounds, with an emphasis on evaluating physical elements and qualities determining how a park or playground element is used or could be used by adults and children. This tool can help you increase the levels of physical activity in your community.

3:30pm - Breakouts

Getting Kids on Bikes! Building Local Youth Bike Culture
- Maine Successes!

  • Deborah Emery, Principal, H L Cottrell School, Monmouth
    Diane Dyer, PE Teacher, Kennebunk Elementary School
  • Bob Bruce, Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Education Instructor & Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club member, also League of American Bicyclists certified Instructor
  • Lenora Felker, Executive Director and Co-founder of Healthy Kids, Happy Kids & Professional Cyclist with Category 1 Trade Team for 7 years

How do we build bicycling culture into our schools and communities? Come hear from a Kennebunk physical education teacher who has developed a school bike fleet and P.E. student biking program on the Eastern Trail, a Monmouth principal who has built an annual bike trek field trip for all 3rd graders into the regular school year, an active member of the Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club who has organized bike safety and ride events to get more local kids on bikes and a professional cyclist who has started her own non-profit to encourage more kids and their families to bicycle for fun and improved health. Come learn from their experiences and how you can start these initiatives yourself!

Change Teams: Lessons Learned
from the Strong Women Across America tour

  • Miriam Nelson PhD, Tufts University

Dr. Nelson will dive deeper into some of the strategies and tactics used during the StrongWomen Across America tour. The team helped each community develop a “Change Club”, a group of 10 to 15 women who were each committed to working together towards their community’s goal.  Working with the team, each Change Club developed manageable benchmarks that would lead to the achievement of their ambitious goals. This talk will highlight various tactics for success in community engagement and a number of lessons learned for future active community projects.

Zoning for Active Communities

  • Eric Larsson, Maine Land Solutions

Zoning is the implementation tool for healthy community design standards. After a brief history of zoning and its role in creating automobile dependence, this program will focus on specific elements of zoning law that can help make your community more pedestrian and bike friendly. Learn about use tables, space and bulk standards, parking minimums and much more.

Where’s The Private & NGO Money

  • Nan Cumming, Campaign Director - Maine Island Trail Association
  • Jean Libby, Vice President - Bath Savings Institution
  • Anne Tricomi Lang, Project Coordinator – Healthy Casco Bay HMP

There is never enough money from government for every trail and project.  What resources are in your community?  Creating partnerships is a great way to support your project.  Many businesses, health organizations, and others may help if asked.  Learn about these opportunities and more.

Low-Cost Sustainable Trail Design

  • Andrew Favreau, New England Mountain Bike Association
  • Mitch Wacksman, New England Mountain Bike Association

The Greater Portland Chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA) has supported many successful trail projects in this region. We will share our knowledge of sustainable trail design and construction. The recreational trails we build with our community partners are usually multi-use and are shared by hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and winter sports enthusiasts. Come learn how you too can build enjoyable, low impact, low maintenance and low cost trails!

Maps & Apps

  • Stephen Engle, Director - Center for Community GIS
  • Kerry Gallivan, founder Chimani, LLC

Creating, updating and reprinting maps can be an expensive and time consuming. Using technology to create maps and apps for your trail can be inexpensive, provide quick changes and will promote your trail.  Find out what is available for your trail regardless of size or location.

Biking Audit & Site Tour

  • Paul Niehoff, Senior Transportation Planner - PACTS

Take a bike ride from the Kennebec River, through downtown and city streets to a paved trail and Waterville’s recreational destinations. You will see and stop to evaluate signage, different surface types, ADA accessibility and more. Learn what makes a bike-friendly community and how to get there from here.

Path Environment Audit Tool (PEAT)

  • Facilitator to be determined

PEAT is a computer-based instrument for trained observers to assess physical characteristics of community trails and paths, including design, amenity, and aesthetics/maintenance items. PEAT can be used by researchers and practitioners. This assessment helps determine how physical characteristics of trails may influence use and can help managers maximize use and therefor potential for physical activity in a community.

Putting Project Pieces Together

  • Ellen Wells, Community Wellness Coordinator – Inland Hospital
  • Matt Skehan, Director – Waterville Parks & Recreation Department
  • Brian Alexander, President – Central Maine Chapter NEMBA

This site visit and walking presentation of Inland Hospital's sidewalk and trails projects will highlight the hospital’s efforts and the many collaborating partners involved in welcoming people to the hospital’s campus for good health. Participants will understand the importance of collaboration for bringing projects to successful completion and be able to identify potential partners in their communities. Bring your walking shoes!