The commitment to local living also extends to Craig’s personal life. Craig has worked with residents in his neighborhood of Lowell, which includes some of the most concentrated poverty in Fresno, to advance community gardens and promote food sharing. “There are now several start-up urban farmers in the neighborhood, and we are buying their produce for my restaurant and market.”
In addition to indicators of physical health, Craig said healthy cities must have recreational and cultural opportunities. “Whether that’s hiking, going to an art show, or listening to a punk rock band—when you have all those components, you don’t need as much ‘symptom control’ to address the signs of an unhealthy community,” he said.
In his view, decision-makers need to recognize they have significant authority, through planning and zoning, to promote the kind of vibrant neighborhoods they desire. Craig said, “a lot of policymakers don’t know they can make it easier to allow outside dining, to encourage restaurants to buy from local farmers, or to allow urban gardening.”
If a city is like a person, downtown is its heart. Craig hopes that Fresno’s impressive track record can inspire other leaders from other cities to focus on downtown.