Tallahassee Forges New Pathways to Wellness

Our multi-sector strategy session fired up imaginations, revealing that Goodwood can leverage its unique historic and natural elements to become a more inclusive, welcoming public space for all Tallahassee residents.” – Nancy Morgan, Goodwood Museum & Gardens

Goodwood Museum & Gardens has long been a notable destination in Tallahassee. The former plantation with a complex past has been meticulously preserved, and is widely recognized for its rich history and natural beauty. Goodwood’s Co-Executive Directors Nancy Morgan and Jennifer Humayun work with a small staff and team of volunteers to steward the site, creating a sought-after location for special events, historic reflection, and enjoyment of nature.

Given its prime location adjacent to the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) medical district as well as surrounding residential neighborhoods, Goodwood holds tremendous potential to serve as a hub for community wellbeing—fostering physical activity, mental health, and social connections. With this in mind, Morgan and Humayun recruited the Center for Active Design (CfAD) to facilitate Envisioning Goodwood, a day-long strategy session to engage the Tallahassee community in imagining the potential for the site as a healing, inclusive space for all.

In spring 2018, over 40 diverse community stakeholders convened to collectively imagine how the site could better support new physical and programmatic pathways to wellness. The event benefitted from generous support from Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation of North Florida (CFNF), with CfAD leading a series of interactive discussions, walking tours, and visioning exercises.

“This event provided a unique opportunity to think out of the box and shift beyond the status quo,” says Laura Harwin of CFNF. “By engaging a cross-section of Tallahassee perspectives representing healthcare, the arts, transportation, planning, community development, and more, we learned that everyone has a stake in advancing community wellbeing.”

By the end of the day, participants had collectively identified priority design and programming recommendations for the future of Goodwood, with an emphasis on four key themes:

  1. Community Connections. Encourage daily physical activity by enhancing walkability to, and within, the Goodwood site. Ensure a sense of safety for pedestrians walking in and near the site.
  2. Incorporating Nature. Support the mental wellbeing of staff and visitors to TMH, as well as the broader community, by providing a place of respite and fostering connections to nature.
  3. Activity and Programming. Reduce social isolation and promote interaction among diverse community members. Leverage Goodwood as a hub of local history, arts, and culture.
  4. Welcoming and Inclusive Spaces. Create an inclusive, welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, and incomes. Ensure equitable access to Goodwood for all members of the community—including those with physical disabilities and those without a car.

Session feedback revealed a well of support for the initiative, with 100% of respondents saying they wanted to stay involved with planning and implementation as Envisioning Goodwood unfolds. CfAD mapped ideas from the strategy session, and created a summary report to serve as a guiding document for ongoing community collaboration. The report offers an illustrated snapshot of the emerging vision, and highlights practical opportunities for making that vision a reality.

Today, implementation of the vision is in full swing. Goodwood and TMH are working with transportation authorities to enhance safe pedestrian connections to the Gardens. Goodwood is cultivating deeper relationships with surrounding neighbors, offering events to attract new visitors—including a brand new “Mindfulness Mondays” program that’s drawing more than 70 participants each week.

“A neighborhood organization used Goodwood as the site for candidate interviews prior to the 2018 election,” says Jennifer Humayun. “Community leaders and neighbors are feeling a stronger connection to the site, largely due to their participation in the spring strategy session!”

As excitement around Envisioning Goodwood continues to build, and partnership networks continue to grow, Tallahassee is well on its way to establishing a replicable model for fostering collaborative, multi-sector pathways to community wellness.