Mayor Betsy Price envisions Fort Worth as a fit, fascinating city of the future.
By: Kendall Morgan
Texas Exceptionalism embodies the values of Fort Worth and the ethos of a Texan’s drive to settle the American west. At Walsh, the concept of Texas Exceptionalism inspires us to push the boundaries of convention and create a home our residents will be proud of. In this continuing series of profiles, we shine the spotlight on individuals who personify the ideal that anything is possible, heeding the call to be extraordinary in their everyday lives.
Having built her reputation on promoting jobs, strengthening education, fighting crime and improving mobility, Fort Worth mayor (and native daughter) Betsy Price is perhaps most passionate about the health of her citizens. Going as far as to create the initiative “FitWorth,” a grassroots movement to change the way Fort Worth lives, works and plays http://fitworth.org/programs-resources, she has actively created a healthier, more engaged city throughout her three terms to date.
Price practices what she preaches, and the city’s status as a foremost cycling community is enjoyed equally by its mayor and its residents, most recently and notably with her Walking and Rolling Town Halls, a clever way to engage with elected officials in the great outdoors. In this, a two-part chat with this visionary politician, Walsh discovers what drives Madame Mayor’s fondness for fitness, as well as her hopes for the next phase of one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Walsh: “We know a fit city is a huge part of what you want the Fort Worth community to be. When did you first become such an avid cyclist?”
MP: “I’ve kind of always ridden all my life. My brothers and I rode our bikes all over, and when I married (her husband, Tom), I pedaled around. When I had my kids, I would ride every day and put my son Philip in his trailer and take off at lunchtime. I discovered it’s very soothing and a great way to get your exercise. Both my parents had grandparents who died of heart disease, and I thought if that happens to me, it wouldn’t be for lack of trying (to get healthier). It just gets in your blood.”
W: “But was there a time when you got serious about cycling?
MP: “I got seriously involved in the ‘90s. Philip was born in ’87 and I was pedaling some with him, then I a cross-state tour of Vermont with a girlfriend in 1991.”
W: “How much do you try and cycle a week?”
MP: “It depends on the season…spring and summer I ride four or five days a week and get in 100 miles. In winter sometimes it’s less. Lately it’s been less because I’ve been in training to go into the Cowtown marathon (this past February).”
W: “How does your passion for riding relate to your vision for your city?”
MP: “It’s not just that I’m dedicated (to fitness), but it’s good for the city. Every city is looking for something that puts them on the map. It’s a better draw for economic development. Two or three years ago, businesses started asking about the (economic) task force, and the health of the community is one of the biggest costs. We’ve had a growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and with (ideas like FitWorth) you gain on the healthy side and the economic side.
“It’s a long-term goal. Fort Worth is the youngest big city in the state—our average age is 31.6 and young millennials and Gen X’ers want to be outside, they want to live where they can get around and be outside.”
W: “What are your favorite places to ride in the city?”
MP: My favorite place is Trinity Trails http://www.trinitytrails.org— it’s such a pretty setting, and there’s 66 miles of trails. It’s very serene. I love to ride to the end of the trails and up and around to (U.S. Route) 377. Also, inside the park at Benbrook it’s nice hill to go up. And Marine Creek on through the Stockyards. I used to ride between Trinity Park and Tom Thumb, but the population has picked up.
W: “Is that a bad thing, your city being too populous for you to enjoy your favorite spots?”
MP: “No, that’s a good problem to have, if we get more people out, we’re doing our job!”
W: What are your new initiatives for health in 2017?”
MP: “The goal is to continue to get FitWorth growing. That’s for children and businesses too, to grow that and help community initiatives. And this is the fourth year we’ve had Blue Zones (A Price-supported initiative to implement nine life-changing principles shared by the world’s longest-living people) https://fortworth.bluezonesproject.com.”
“The whole city is aware of what Blue Zones is, and is taking ownership of their own well-being and spiritual well-being.”
Stay tuned to discover Mayor Price’s thoughts about the Walsh development, the city’s future and her definition of Texas Exceptionalism.