First, Mayor Karl Dean started riding the bus to work, and he told you he thought it’d be nice if you joined him.
Now he wants you to take a walk with him. Seems like the only thing Hizzoner isn’t asking you to do is join his carpool.
Last week, the mayor kicked off a citywide health initiative, challenging Nashvillians to walk 100 miles of city parks and greenways. The project is part of a larger effort to fight obesity called “NashVitality.” That project is being funded through a $7.5 million federal stimulus grant.
At the big rollout, which included a low-cal lunch for the first 500 on site (everyone else, presumably, ate the usual meat-and-three), the mayor said he’s been hosting neighborhood walks for a while, and this is just a Metro-wide expansion of what was, apparently, a pretty low-key thing.
“Over the years, we have built up a park system with 192 miles of paved and primitive walking trails, including 46 miles of greenways,” Dean said. “We’re going to walk a lot of them.”
It’s all pretty simple. Folks can dial up a website — www.walk100miles.com  — and commit to the eponymous effort, which includes a series of 28 walks of between two and 10 miles each. Those who reach the century mark in three months are invited to a July 9 celebration downtown.
Tennessee has one of the country’s highest obesity rates, and heart disease, diabetes and a host of other problems that can be ameliorated sometimes through simple exercise. Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker gets high marks for his “Let’s Move” campaign to get the people of his city exercising. The folks in the Dean administration and the Metro Health Department have come up with an effective and interesting way to get Nashville moving, and maybe to provide a way to see our still-way-too-car-dependent city from something other than a driver-side window.
But if the mayor is serious about getting Nashvillians to troop around the city with him, he’s got to promise one thing: He and the rest of the courthouse muckity-mucks aren’t going to be schlepping down Broadway in running shorts.