Transforming Brownfields into 'Healthfields'

    A brownfields-related movement, whose roots are arguably traced to one woman’s foresight and passion in 1997, is beginning to accelerate after years of grassroots and individual program efforts. In hindsight, the initiative that’s been billed as “Transforming Brownfields to Healthfields,” makes perfect sense—take abandoned and blighted properties and, using coordinated funding and community-based mechanisms, turn them into thriving economic developments that also improve access to healthy lifestyle choices for all.

    Willa Carson, a retired nurse, started simply enough in Clearwater, Fla., providing basic medical assistance to friends and neighbors who lacked health insurance and a means to travel the more than 10 miles to the nearest hospital. Shortly thereafter, beginning in two apartments, Carson founded the North Greenwood Health Resource Center in 1997. When the City of Clearwater designated the Greenwood area Brownfields Redevelopment Area in 1998, it was her vision to take an abandoned gas station site and turn it into the stand-alone facility now called Willa Carson Health & Wellness Center.

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