Public health social marketing in action during COVID-19

If you haven’t discovered it already, the use of social marketing for behavior change is kinda my public health bag, baby.

So right now during this pandemic my big, beautiful brain is working over time, watching, observing and creating my own social marketing public health response to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

In this post, I am having a sort of brain dump of observational what’s working and what can be improved upon. I love to see social marketing used effectively in action. For public health practitioners, this is a very informative time. Here are some of my initial thoughts.

Dr. Fauci is a messenger. My perception is that people stop and listen to what he is saying, and feel more comfortable following his directives, than say, President Trump? When the two don’t see eye to eye in a press conference, I am going to go out on a limb here and say Americans feel Dr. Fauci is the more transparent, knowledgeable and respected expert related to COVID-19. Which brings me to point #1. A messenger is a highly effective tool to change health behaviors.

Denise Irene on Twitter: "Dr. Fauci is the real spice of ...

On the other hand, we have another messenger who probably didn’t mean to make such a personal impact on social distancing behaviour in his own country but he did.

Internet users share hilarious memes as Boris Johnson tests ...

Making it social. In my opinion, the media has done a very good job in making #selfisolation and #stayathome messaging a positive and collective social norm. They have used the power of networks and social media to frame social distancing in a positive light, encourage good behavior, encourage commitments and build altruism. The One World: Together at Home concert is a great example of this. Not every day, you get a free concert in your living room, with famous musicians, comedians and performers, all promoting the same messages and supporting each other in a new behavior. Here are some popular COVID-19 hashtags (#’s): #COVID19; #socialdistancing; #coronavirus; #ShelterInPlace; #FlattenTheCurve; #StayAtHomeChallenge; #ViewFromMyWindow; #TogetherAtHome #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan; #QuarantineAndChill; #HealthyAtHome

Defaults and cues. Even though some have been slow on the uptake, most urban grocery stores have jumped on board with creating defaults and cues on how to social distance. For example, employees are wiping down carts, check out lines are taped off at every 6ft. and aisles have directional arrows. Cruises were doing in even better job of this before the pandemic became one. Royal Caribbean had hand washing stations before each dining area. They added guitarists and singers at each entrance to basically force passengers into washing their hands (do you really want to be called out for not washing your hands before dinner?). Upon exiting and entering the ship, you had to have your hands squirted with hand sanitizer by a cruise member. Not getting past them in a single file line. These defaults also helped define social distancing as a norm. It’s hard to not practice something when everyone else is without being embarrassed and socially shamed.

Grocery stores start to enforce social distancing, partner with ...

Making it easy. A lot of public health messaging for COVID-19 has been broken down into simple, easy actions. One of my favorites is how to grocery shop safely. Everyone still needs to eat and everyone is still using this essential service so creating a clear, step-by-step guide on how to grocery shop is vital for pandemic control and should be a top priority for health communicators. This leads me to another point on making it timely. (See “Not Ideal” #3 below.)

Social distancing key to slowing spread of coronavirus | News ...
Joint Statement on Keeping Parks, Trails and Open Spaces ...

The challenges. Making it attractive. Humor, storytelling, images, music, and dancing make social distancing and self-isolating attractive, fun and social. They are great prompts and effective “openings” to public health issues that are immediate and chronic, from pandemic mental health to trying healthy cooking recipes, a new exercise routine or simply, enjoying quality time for your loved ones. #healthyathome #getmoving

Even when our governments weren’t responding quickly (or accurately), public health did a good job making COVID-19 salient. Information was going out to people on what is was and what to do. Most people were jumping on board even when they were not directly targeted, i.e. not immune-compromised or not 65+.

If you don't laugh, you cry: Coping with virus through humor | KMPH

Not Ideal-The Lessons We Are Learning.

Media blowing up the protests. The number of people who are protesting vs. the number of people who are adhering to public health measures are not comparable. Drawing attention to the number of non-compliance protesters does not help create a social norm of social distancing in a pandemic.

Social distancing vs. physical distancing. First, one can be social and still physically distant. With self-isolating comes increased mental and emotional health risks. It is confusing to raise the importance of maintaining social contact through web chats, Zoom, Facetime, etc. while at the same time using words like social distancing. Second, you are asking people to physically distance themselves, specifically 6 feet of distance between you and another person. If you could only impart one step that a person should take with words, you want to make sure that the word you use is the most effective in communicating what you want. In this case, actual physical distancing of 6 feet. One hashtag that has not taken off the ground on twitter but conveys physical distance is #healthyspacing but the best one would be #physicaldistancing .

Timeliness. As much as I appreciate the step-by-step guide on safely grocery shopping, the messaging did not come out until people asked how to grocery shop safely. It took governments a little too long to jump on the pandemic board. Thankfully, corporations took it upon themselves to create their own pandemic measures.

The timeliness of social distancing measures, monitoring, feedback, and evaluation could have been improved with Cooperation and Collaboration across multiple sectors. A lot of creative ideas have come out of the business sector, but unfortunately, these weren’t public health nudges, and we can learn a lot from others ingenuity. And local governments are doing a lot of mind changing it seems. People are looking for ways to cope. We need to identify touch points and capitalize on prompting people when they are actively looking for information. As different organizations, governments and corporations are navigating this pandemic, we need to share information and ideas.

The #safehandschallenge or #handwashingchallenge. I don’t like “The Happy Birthday Song” method and messaging. I like my own one better. It is not only attractive (b/c of its use of music, not me) but because I give steps on HOW TO EFFECTIVELY WASH YOUR HANDS. Especially with children, it’s important not to just teach them to wash their hands, but how to do it. And the steps are right there in the lyrics.

We failed in targeting specific audiences. All social marketers should know that one size does not fit all. Early messaging was targeted to the most vulnerable populations but we failed to identify audiences that were the least likely to adopt behaviour change. We must use behaviour change theories in order to create effective social marketing campaigns. Using the innovative adoptive curve for example, we would have seen that immunocompromised individuals and their families would be early adopters, the 65+ population would be the early majority. For a pandemic with such high viral loads, shedding efficiency, and incubation period, health communication should not have stopped there but continued to identify measures and build a campaign to target the late majority and the laggards. I can think of one target audience here in Florida, the spring breakers on the beach. And now with the growing politicization of the pandemic, the conservative right-wing protestors.

Public health is prevention. We need to plan. Prepare. Prevent. Not react. We cannot effectively treat without prevention. We need local governments to think and apply the social determinants of health in a systematic way before a problem occurs. Healthy equity and access to services should be embedded into planning, not just a reaction. Which leads me to another connection. People are searching for information from multiples resources. A person may be looking on how to use public transportation during this crises. Another may be looking for a cycling route with closed parks. By applying a social determinants of health framework, changes can occur simultaneously and in conjunction with each other. Teamwork makes the dream work. Hopefully individuals, practitioners, organizations, businesses and governments are all learning from this pandemic and will use this experience to improve. Health communicators especially can use this pandemic as an “opening” for behaviour change beyond #handwashing and #COVID-19.

Let me hear your thoughts! Please comment below with any other behaviour change or social marketing observations and ideas from this pandemic, or previous research that can help going forward! Looking forward to learning more and applying lessons learned to creating an effective social marketing campaign!

The Right Way To Pass Pedestrians

Here is another blog article I ran across on how to pass pedestrians while walking, running or cycling outside. It’s always good to get other people’s opinions and ideas, as well as the science behind it.

Since I shared my blog post on How To Social Distance While Outside I have drawn some conclusions that I hope readers might find helpful.

10 “RULES OF THE CORONA ROAD” and tips for safely exercising outside while practicing social distancing.

  • “Imagine a person laying down across the street the sidewalk”. If you saw someone laying horizontally across the sidewalk or road, more than likely you would move around them or make an effort not to touch them.
  • Choose a less trafficked time. Personally, right after work hours (5-7pm for me) is a nightmare. So many people. And so many groups of people. I now run in the mornings.
  • #besafebesmartbekind Not only will you demonstrate good behaviour by moving over, if you smile while you do it, you will help others positively associate with this action, as well as make them feel better.
  • Remember, pedestrians (someone on foot) have the right-of-way on a sidewalk. When we ride bikes, we use the sidewalk because it is so dangerous to use the roads here but we still move over for pedestrians. Cyclist should move around a pedestrian(s) on their left side. Pedestrians if you see or hear a cyclist coming at you, or from behind. Stay to the right.
  • Not exercising alone?- Switch to single file. Just like in elementary school.
  • Walk on the grass. “Grass is not hot lava”. Most sidewalks are not wide enough for someone to safely pass you without someone moving onto the grass and dirt.
  • Give way to people with strollers, walkers and wheelchairs.
  • Imagine everyone is smoking and you are trying to get around the smoke;
  • If a child or children are alone- walk, run or cycle 6 feet around them. You are setting a good example, helping them feel more safe, and children don’t always act like the mature adult that you are showing them to be.
  • And finally, you can always wear a t-shirt like mine or run with a 6 foot pole, lightsaber or cat toy 🙂

Social distancing while outside

How to protect yourself and others while walking, running and cycling outside.

I have been “exercising” social distancing, stay-at-home, and shelter-in-place behavior for the past week now. I am working from home while my child plays and learns online like hopefully, most Americans who are able, are also doing. Now I do go outside as a daily runner and dog owner, and also so my child and I can get some much needed exercise and stress relief. Before we started to go off, I told my son that if he sees another person on the sidewalk to ride around them in the grass so we can maintain at minimum a 6ft distance between us and others.

Image result for social distancing memes

Now at the beginning of our daily lunch break bike rides, my son was practically falling off his bike while trying to ride around each person he saw. We came across a lot of families and friends walking side-by-side and in small groups on the sidewalks, Mom’s and Dad’s with strollers, couples with multiple dogs, etc. and none of them were moving over, moving aside, or moving into the grass. When we moved over there were a lot of looks of surprise, which got me thinking. Do people not believe in social distancing? Do people know what social distancing entails? Are people wondering who should move over? Do I move over too? Do they know social distancing means 6 feet? Do they know what 6 feet is? One thing I do know, my running shoes were soaking wet!

Image result for social distancing memes
I keep people at least 3 feet away by not shaving my legs 🙂 It works!

So I decided take this observation of sidewalk etiquette in the new era of social distancing to the internet and more specifically, to my community on NextDoor. This is what I posted:

May I respectfully request that if you are walking, running and cycling on the sidewalk that you please make an effort to move away from others who are passing you. I have been walking, running and cycling every day since this outbreak hit Florida and I am practicing social distancing and working from home, as a socially conscientious citizen and neighbor. Every time I see someone approaching me or my child, we both make every effort to move 6 feet away. Unfortunately, we have only been given the same due respect a couple of times. Like the beaches, if we cannot abide the recommendations, we will lose the privilege of being able to go outside. If you don’t believe in the current pandemic and social distancing, than please respect the people who do. Speaking my truth with love. Thank you”.

And the responses have really gotten me thinking….

“This needs to happen in grocery store lines”. (People aren’t social distancing in grocery stores either. Grocery stories aren’t communicating to customers or organizing how to social distance in our local grocery stores).

“I walk everyday since I stopped going to the gym and given that the width of the sidewalk is less than 6ft, it would be impossible to do so without one or both getting on to the lawn. But I do walk as far to the right of the sidewalk that I can without getting on the lawn”. (Some people don’t want or think they can walk on grass?)

More people than ever are outside exercising because their gyms and pools are closed.

Image result for social distancing memes

“Speaking for myself I’m more than happy for anyone to walk on my lawn if it helps them maintain that distance from someone else walking past!” (This person outweighs the the benefit of social distancing with the cost of trampled grass.)

Image result for social distancing memes

I run daily with my dog and if I see anyone come near us I make it a point to run on the lawn.. not sure why it’s difficult for some? It’s grass… it won’t bite.”

My response- “Me too. I will add, people please pick up your dog poop. Now that I am running and riding more in the grass, it is harder to avoid!”

Stepping in dog poop is a barrier to social distancing and social distancing increases the probability of stepping in dog poo 😦

April Ingram that is really important since more people are outdoors now.. thanks p For pointing that out”. (The majority of comments were polite and people were appreciative of my request and bringing up the issue).

Which brings me to my conclusion, this is new territory. We as a community, as neighbors, as people, don’t know what to do EXACTLY. We don’t know what the rules of etiquette or engagement are for social distancing on sidewalks and outside and we need some help if we want people to social distance.

So here are my suggestions from my community…

“yes I agree and they also have the other side of the street’s side walk. It’s not like it’s that packed most of the time. However it seems like I’m the only one volleying from side to side. Also you can still say hello to neighbors instead of looking away (kinda creepy/apocalyptic to me). People can be very weird during times like this but I think we just need to practice common courtesy, common sense and common kindness. Be well.”

“I like to walk in the evening, so here are my general rules of (dis)engagement: If I see people walking dogs or pushing baby carriages, I move off the sidewalk into the street until I go past them. It is easier and safer for me to do this than for them to do so. If I am walking with a friend and people are approaching us on the sidewalk, we line up single file on the very right side of the sidewalk so we can move past quickly without touching each other. What is frustrating is when others do not line up single file but rather continue walking abreast so that we all have to crowd past each other or trample people’s lawns. I have even seen groups of people just congregating on the sidewalks with their dogs and baby carriages, chatting away so that other walkers are forced to make a wide berth around them, going into streets or onto lawns. We need to all be considerate of others and not expect others to always move out of our way.”

Two keys points here I agree with: groups walking together should line up single file behind each other; and move to the right. I cannot emphasize moving to the right enough. Just like when you are cycling and trying to pass someone from behind, you always announce politely, “On your left”. Or if you are walking, running and cycling, keeping to the right so others can pass you.

Here are some of my “rules of social distancing” that I completely created in my head but that I accept as common courtesy:

  1. If I see someone or people who look elderly or has a physical impairment, I move off the sidewalk when passing them;

2. If I see someone with a stroller than I move off the sidewalk;

3. If I see kids by themselves, I move off the sidewalk and away from them. I think every parent or guardian can appreciate this. It cannot be assumed that kids are mature enough to know how to safely and politely move away 6 feet from someone;

4. Who am I kidding, I move off the sidewalk for everyone.

UPDATE: Since I posted on NextDoor I have noticed people moving off the sidewalk for me too 🙂 Yeah! This may be from leading by example. Another way to guarantee some ongoing compliance? Say, “THANK YOU!” and smile.

I’d love to read your comments about unspoken rules of sidewalk engagement and social distancing outside! Please comment below and let me know what you are doing and what you would like to see done when you or your family members are outside walking, running and cycling on sidewalks.

Finally for all my public health practitioners out there, I saw this today in regards to health communications. “Social distancing” is a new term to the majority of people. Most people don’t know what it entails. As health communicators, we need to help define what it means and communicate in messages that give people clear, known, specific, doable and concrete behaviors and actions. This is our challenge. I feel a social marketing project coming on….

Thank you for reading!

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Local, National and World Information Resources

Resources for information in Tampa

If you are in Tampa, you can sign up for City and Hillsborough County updates via text message:

Text TAMPAREADY to 888-777 for updates.
Envia TAMPALISTA al 888-777 para espanol

Resources for information in Florida

Florida residents can call the following line in Florida for more information, as well as where you can get tested, and what to do if you suspect you may have the virus.

Call 1(866) 779-6121 for the COVID-19 Call Center

If you suspect you have the virus, DO NOT GO DIRECTLY TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. Please call the number above h and they will tell you what to do and/or where to go.

You can email your questions to:

Resources for US and Global Citizens

I use the following references for reliable, accurate and up-to-date info:

1. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health podcast Public Health on Call ;

2. The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health website (though I noticed their interactive map was not up-to-date for certain countries)- You can get DAILY Situation Reports from the Center of Health Security. Also, this page –

3. World Health Organization

Their interactive dashboard is located here

The situational reports are located here

4. The Center for Disease Control (CDC). Here is their situation summary which is updated daily and here is their testing sites page

A friendly reminder that the coronavirus is dangerous for everyone, not just individuals over 70. Please do your part by social distancing.

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Thank you!

New Tampa Road Safety Group

The catalyst for this group was based upon my experiences walking, cycling, running and driving around New Tampa. I had (and continue to have) too many near runs in with vehicles and witnessing really bad driving behaviour. This ranged from drivers failing to stop for me or my child in crosswalks, to parents dropping their kids off in the middle of the road to avoid the car rider line. When I started off in public health, I never expected pedestrian and cyclist safety to be my biggest focus. Yet here I am. And I think its aptly suited since public health should be identifying key issues and target populations instead of pushing agendas on communities. If you live in the New Tampa area, feel free to join our group. You can find us on Facebook and NextDoor. Our mission is to:

  • increase driver consciousness around pedestrian and cyclist safety in our neighborhood;
  • increase law enforcement presence and enforcement of road safety in our community;
  • make texting while driving a ticket-able first offense (UPDATE: this has happened!);
  • increase road design and infrastructure to make our neighborhood more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

If you live in the Cross Creek Community and are tired of people cutting in at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and Cross Creek Blvd. while taking a right hand turn onto Cross Creek Blvd. then this cause is for you! If are feel you are being mowed down by cars while walking thru a pedestrian crossing, then this cause is for you! If you are afraid of cars flying thru your residential neighborhood, get involved. By advocating  our concerns and ideas to our local law enforcement and government representatives, we can make the change we want to see.

Intersection of Wild Tamarind Drive and Bassett Creek Drive, K-Bar ranch. Flags provided by Sidewalk Stompers and Advent Health. Buckets provided by me 🙂

If you live in K-bar Ranch and would like to see a crossing guard at the intersection of Bassett Creek Dr. and Wild Tamarind Dr., then let me know! (UPDATE: We got one!). All ready I have started the campaign to install a cross walk for children attending Pride Elementary next year and I need support to push for a crossing guard (UPDATE: Got one of these too-see it pays to be an active community advocate 🙂.

Continue reading to see what we are doing in this community and what he have accomplished, as well as ways you can advocate in New Tampa or your own community to make it more pedestrian and cyclist safe.

Helpful Info

How to make a sign requestCity of Tampa.

If you are wanting to request a sign in your Tampa Neighborhood, there is a link on the City of Tampa’s website

Personally, I am advocating for better signage at the Kinnan Street Cross walk in New Tampa. If you would also like to join me, please tell our local government by making your request at the following Hillsborough County website. Ideally, the picture below is what we would like to see on Kinnan. Flashing beacons that can be activated at the crosswalk by pedestrians. Often, drivers are unaware that pedestrians have the right-of-way in any marked crosswalk, whether there are flashing beacons or not. Same as true at non-intersection crosswalks. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way in Florida. Here is the law if you don’t believe me 🙂

Image result for image pedestrian crosswalk

UPDATE- July 2nd, 2018: Tonight New Tampa Community Members are gathering at the New Tampa public library to discuss road safety in our neighborhood. Please join us at 7pm if you would like to share specific problem areas and/or solutions in the New Tampa area. The library is located on Cross Creek Blvd. 

UPDATE- Aug. 6th, 2018: Thank you to everyone who came out July 2nd. If you want a copy of the meeting notes. Please message me your email. Also, we are looking to have our next community meeting on Aug. 13th. Please join us to hear Gena Torres from Vision Zero.

UPDATE-Aug. 2019: We got crossing guards at Benito Middle School! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for changing their policy and agreeing to provide crossing guards at middle schools AND for making Benito Middle School one of the first recipients of this change!

If you would more information on this effort, please refer to my advocacy page or contact me directly.
How many times have we seen this?

UPDATE- Nov. 2019: Pete Mirones and I met with Robert Campbell from Hillsborough County to discuss various “hot spots” around New Tampa. While we were meeting with him, we all witnessed cyclists trying to cross the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and

Cross Creek Blvd. when the pedestrian light was engaged. Unfortunately, many drivers did not yield or stop for the cyclist, even when they were in the crosswalk.


Here is a list of what we requested and the responses (italicized) we have received thus far:

Mr. Robert Campbell at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and Cross Creek Blvd. (notice he is wearing a safety vest in broad daylight- smart man).

Cross Creek Blvd. and Bruce B. Downs Blvd (BBD)sent to Traffic Engineering

  • A “No-right-on-red” light when the Crosswalk button has been activated for both the right onto Cross Creek Blvd. from BBD and the right onto BBD from Cross Creek Blvd.;
  • Adding a sidewalk on the east side of Cross Creek Blvd. from BBD to Hunter’s Green (currently there is not one);
  • Adding barriers or bollards in or near the bike lane on Bruce B. Downs right hand turning lane into Cross Creek Blvd. to prevent cars from cutting into the right hand turning lane and creating a second turning lane;
  • Extending the median on Cross Creek Blvd. to create a Median Refuge Island for pedestrians and cyclists trying to cross Cross Creek Blvd. at the intersection;
  • Removing the current sign that says the sidewalk is closed when it isn’t at the intersection; Send to Amos Castillo for inspection
  • Changing the current sign that says yield to pedestrians to include cyclist (symbol of bike and pedestrian, as shown on other BBD signs);
Driver obstructing the crosswalk. Pedestrian light is engaged. Road safe barrier was obstructing the sidewalk. There was no need for the barrier there so Mr. Campbell had it removed for us.

Kinnan Street (crosswalk located right before Basset Creek Drive)sent to Traffic Engineering

  • Running the speed display sign at all times for 6 months, not just during school hours (there is a speed display sign there now); No
  • Adding a rapid flashing beacon at the crosswalk on Kinnan Street;
  • Raising the crosswalk;
  • Inserting a must stop for pedestrians sign in the middle of the crosswalk – No
We have asked that they run the solar powered speed sign at all times for 6 months, not just during school hours.
Requesting a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Light Beacon (RRFLB)- pedestrian activated, as well as a raised crosswalk at the crossing. This is the same crossing where a crossing guard stands in the morning and afternoon for Pride Elementary.

Fletcher Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Intersection west bound (corner of Advent Hospital)- sent to Traffic Eng and TMC Operations

  • A “No-right-on-red” light when the Crosswalk button has been activated – TMC on the progression reduction if implemented
  • Adding something to make the bike lane more secure as right now a cyclist isn’t able to use it with the amount of cars that sit in it while trying to get into the right hand land or turn right on BBD.


 Since we have met with Mr. Campbell, we have received two case numbers or work orders from Hillsborough County Traffic Engineering. They are SR333549 and WR1435824. Michael Flick from Traffic Engineering has been in contact and he was informed me that they have tasked a consultant from JMP to survey this area and our requests. Sara Bursheim from JMP is the engineer assigned to these requests from JMP. I have not had the pleasure of speaking with her yet.

Trout Creek Bridge Request

We would like to thank Mr. Campbell for not only coming out but for also for helping to remove the concrete in the gutter north of Trout Creek Bridge 🙂

As we continue to make progress and are provided updates, I will add to this post or create a new one. It is never too late to join our efforts. We need a variety of people to help out. Whether its writing a letter or attending a meeting to represent our area, your help is vital! Please feel free to join us.

Thank you for reading!

Florida HB1371 SB1000

“Turn the Flashing Yellow Crosswalks Red”

This bill eliminates the ability to place Rectangular Rapid Flashing Light Beacons (RRFBs) on roads with more than 2 lanes. If the existing RRFBs are currently located on roads with more than 2 lanes, the RRFBs must be removed. If the RRFBs cannot be retrofitted with red lights, they must also be removed.

“Sophia Nelson Pedestrian Safety Act”

Senate bill 1000 does not turn yellow flashing lights into red flashing lights It removes the flashing yellow lights (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Light Beacons) all together. It removes all mid-block crosswalks (or cross walks not at an intersection with controlled traffic signals). The idea behind this being is that it invites pedestrians to walk in crosswalks, where they might get hit by drivers who fail to stop for them (against the law), as oppose to not walking in a crosswalk, walking a longer distance to get to a crosswalk at an intersection with controlled traffic signals, or not walking at all. The problem here isn’t the pedestrian. The problem here isn’t the design. The problem here is the driver.

The legislation would require one or more newly installed RRFBs on Bayshore Avenue that now protect against crashes that killed Jessica and Lillia to be removed.

A driver who is distracted, unaware of the law, intoxicated, speeding or other will fail to stop for a pedestrian or stop in time regardless of whether a  crosswalk is mid-block or at an intersection, and whether Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) are present. So does this mean we should take them down? No.

People are begging for more crosswalks and RRFBs across the state to make drivers more conscientious of pedestrians. The state is currently unable to meet the demand for the need. How are communities able to afford removing crosswalks and installing crosswalks with controlled traffic signal devices when they are struggling to get sidewalks, crosswalks and RRFBs as it is? By removing what crosswalks and rapid flashing beacons that are currently in place, we are exacerbating the issue of pedestrian safety, by enabling drivers to increase their speed and reduce barriers to speeding, such as crosswalks. RRFBs are effective in alerting drivers who are safely driving of an upcoming crosswalk and pedestrian entering a crosswalk.

Finally, removing crosswalks will disproportionately affect urban communities of concern, creating health and safety inequities. I encourage you to instead prioritize effective systems and tools such as the ones outlined in Vision Zero. Tools which make pedestrians more safe include: painted corner crosswalk extensions, protected bike lanes, public transportation investment, reducing speed, driver education, automated speed enforcement, law enforcement, designing complete streets, and educational programming. Not removing the few scientifically proven resources we have at our disposal. RRFBs are highly effective (98%) and affordable. Please let your Florida Senator know you are opposed to these bills.

Senators in the FL Infrastructure and Security Committee

If pedestrian safety is important to you, let Rep. Jackie Toldeo and Sen. Janet Cruz know you oppose this dangerous legislation. Contact Rep., (850) 717-5060 and tell her to oppose HB 1371. Contact Sen., (850) 487-5018 and tell her to oppose SB 1000.

Baby steps to help our environment

“You can’t change the world; you can’t fix the whole environment. But you can recycle. You can turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth. You can do small things.” – Patti Smith (“Because the night…”)

Even if you don’t believe in climate change you must believe that with more and more people today on this planet, we have more waste, and that waste is going somewhere. Yes our trash is picked up for us at least once a week and taken to a land field where we hope it is being properly disposed of, ie buried in the ground. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. What services we have in America are also not universal. And finally, our trash is not the only waste that can affect our environment and subsequently our health.

Throughout my website and blog posts, I hope you find truthful information and small ways that can contribute to your environment. One small step by one person can make a difference. And if you miss a week of recycling or forget to bring your own reusable bag to the grocery store, no one here is judging you! If you fall off the environmental bandwagon, you can always jump back on. For everyone who attempts to make our planet better, whether for yourself, your children or for everyone or thing, thank you so much!

Stop Using Straws

This video is not for the faint heart. But even if one person views it and commits to reducing their use of plastic straws and/or recycling their plastics, then it is worth sharing. This is heart breaking. Thankfully for this turtle, he is better…for now.

Carry your own reusable cutlery with you

Even though I began declining straws in restaurants, it wasn’t until my partner from the UK commented on the amount of plastic ware being distributed in restaurants that I became aware of how restaurants automatically add plastic utensils to your take out bag unless you specifically ask them not to. Hence, my new thing…

My new Boba straws for my “treat-yo-self” visits to @NagaTea. From hiware. Keep these babies handy in my purse.

My Mom bought me a set of reusable cutlery from a trip in Hawaii but since I am usually feeding more than just me, I bought another set from BewBew. This set comes with reusable chopsticks and a toothbrush. I will say the straw is very skinny but thankfully I have my own set of boba or smoothy straws too.

BewBew bamboo set and Hiware boba straws can be found on

Make Your Own Yoghurt

This may seem like a big ask. But let me start by telling you how I started this journey. Every day I was packing yoghurts for my child and myself in lunches. I would be on the look out for those 10 for $10 specials. Then I started to look at the sugar content of these yoghurts. I started using half the fruit on the other side of those plastic cups. I wanted less sugar in our daily yogurt intake. So I decided to start buying the large containers of vanilla yogurt. Remember baby steps here. Especially if you are making changes with a child, gradual steps make for an easier transition. Then I started to buy large containers of plain yoghurt. In order to make this leap and control our sugar, I needed to create my own fruit compote and provide my own cups. Now I reuse a lot of my previous plastic purchases so I had plenty on hand. A good “investment” for reusable, small plastic cups are these-

Image result for Noosa 4 pack yoghurts

Noosa’s 4 packs yoghurts. Eat the yoghurt (which is yum) and then reuse the cups with plastic lids for your own batches. Or you can also purchase some of these small sistema storage containers

These are perfect portion size for school lunches.

So even though I was still reducing my waste, I could only store so many large plastic yoghurt containers (great for storing soups and stews btw). So I decided to make my own. Why I like making my own despite reducing my waste? I can control the products used to make it, like organic milk or sugar content. In order to due this, I needed to buy an instant pot. Now the main reason I bought the instant pot was to make yoghurt but I will say its a good investment. How many times have you come home from work and forgot to pull something out from the freezer? As a working Mama, I have very little time in the evenings to cook. So many times I have forgotten to take something out of the freezer, or it didn’t thaw completely in the fridge. I also tend to make big batches of food and freeze meals for busy school nights so to me, the instant pot was a good investment. This is the one I got. **Make sure your instant pot has the “yoghurt” button on the front. Not all pressure cookers and instant pot cookers can make the yoghurt.**

I waited until I could grab an online Black Friday deal from Target and paid less than $70 for this Instant Pot. So far it hasn’t let me down and is able to cook every recipe I wanted. Here is a recipe which is almost identical to my instant pot cookbook recipe.

Here are a couple of tips:

  1. This is a 2 day process at minimum, more if you strain your yoghurt;
  2. Greek yoghurt is just strained yoghurt. If you like thick yoghurt than you will want to strain it. I invested in a strainer (see below);
  3. I almost always have to hit the “saute” function to get the temperature raised after it goes through the 1 hour yoghurt/boil process;
  4. I use a gallon of 1% milk and add Chobani plain yoghurt as my “yoghurt starter”;
  5. I have tried a variety of fruit compote recipes and a variety of fruit. Basically end up doing some type of frozen fruit, a little lemon juice and maybe a little almond extract. If its too watery just add a little bit of corn starch to thicken it up. I rarely add sugar to any of them anymore. If you want a “tropical” fruit compote, try pineapple with frozen mango. For me, the pineapple is all the sugar I need.
Bringing down the milk to 110F quickly.
Whisk in 1/4 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt to cold milk. I usually use plain and get my sugar from the fruit compote I add later.
Yoghurt strainer from Euro Cuisine and worth the $25.00.

After half a batch has been strained.
Waiting patiently. He loves the yoghurt. Plain yoghurt is good for a dog’s digestive tract and their coat too 🙂
Making your own fruit compote allows you to set your desired fruit flavor and control your sugar content.
I make about 5 days of containers for my child and myself in one go. One for each day of the school/work day. Enjoy!
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