Glasgow's George Square at night John / Flickr
Glasgow Green, seen here in 2010, is a place for exercise and fresh air. Image via John / Flickr.

For Resilient Glasgow, one key has been increasing social cohesion to create stronger, more empowered communities. Another goal has been to create more inclusive economic growth while trying to determine the long-range effects of robotics and automation on the job landscape. Also, a place-based approach to neighborhood services.

Resilient Pittsburgh has embraced this approach as well, trying to build a network of advocates who are invested in the city’s health. The trick is to integrate various groups and find holistic solutions about a concept — the link between health and environment — that is sometimes hard to pin down.

A healthy community is measured by much more than just blood pressure.

“It isn’t just your physical health, it’s also your mental health,” Pittsburgh’s Ervin says. “Think about it like the ability to go out your door and go to your neighbor’s to ask for a cup of sugar and an egg to bake a cake. To have those access points within your neighborhood or community is critical to building resilience. And it’s also an important factor in reducing isolation, which is one of those issues that more and more we’re seeing as a challenge and a mental health issue.”

There is at least one major difference between the cities: Glasgow, as part of the United Kingdom, has universal health care. Pittsburgh, of course, does not. But Glasgow’s integrated approach to solving its problems can still provide valuable ideas for Western Pennsylvania to emulate.

Thompson says that it’s important that the health of the city is not just a priority for the health department and healthcare providers, but also for the mayor’s office, and city and county councils.

“You have to think about the circumstances that people are living in,” Thompson says. “If you want a city that’s going to thrive and be as good as it can be, you have to make sure that people have the opportunity to be healthy and experience well-being. Because that’s how your city becomes resilient. It’s the capability and capacity of the human beings in a city that really drive this.”

Rege Behe

Rege Behe is an award-winning journalist, writer, and editor. A native of Trafford, Pa., he's covered school board meetings, reviewed concerts, and interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winners including Michael...