Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • How many of you have been to Oklahoma City?

  • Raise your hand. Yeah?

  • How many of you have not been to Oklahoma City

  • and have no idea who I am? (Laughter)

  • Most of you. Let me give you a little bit of background.

  • Oklahoma City started in the most

  • unique way imaginable.

  • Back on a spring day in 1889,

  • the federal government held what they called

  • a land run.

  • They literally lined up the settlers

  • along an imaginary line,

  • and they fired off a gun,

  • and the settlers roared across the countryside

  • and put down a stake,

  • and wherever they put down that stake,

  • that was their new home.

  • And at the end of the very first day,

  • the population of Oklahoma City

  • had gone from zero to 10,000,

  • and our planning department

  • is still paying for that.

  • The citizens got together on that first day

  • and elected a mayor.

  • And then they shot him.

  • (Laughter)

  • That's not really all that funny

  • -- (Laughter) --

  • but it allows me to see what type of audience

  • I'm dealing with, so I appreciate the feedback.

  • The 20th century was fairly kind to Oklahoma City.

  • Our economy was based on commodities,

  • so the price of cotton or the price of wheat,

  • and ultimately the price of oil and natural gas.

  • And along the way, we became a city

  • of innovation.

  • The shopping cart was invented in Oklahoma City.

  • (Applause)

  • The parking meter, invented in Oklahoma City.

  • You're welcome.

  • Having an economy, though,

  • that relates to commodities can give you some ups and some downs,

  • and that was certainly the case in Oklahoma City's history.

  • In the 1970s, when it appeared

  • that the price of energy would never retreat,

  • our economy was soaring,

  • and then in the early 1980s, it cratered quickly.

  • The price of energy dropped.

  • Our banks began to fail.

  • Before the end of the decade,

  • 100 banks had failed in the state of Oklahoma.

  • There was no bailout on the horizon.

  • Our banking industry, our oil and gas industry,

  • our commercial real estate industry,

  • were all at the bottom of the economic scale.

  • Young people were leaving Oklahoma City in droves

  • for Washington and Dallas and Houston and New York and Tokyo,

  • anywhere where they could find a job that measured up

  • to their educational attainment,

  • because in Oklahoma City, the good jobs just weren't there.

  • But along at the end of the '80s

  • came an enterprising businessman

  • who became mayor named Ron Norick.

  • Ron Norick eventually figured out

  • that the secret to economic development

  • wasn't incentivizing companies up front,

  • it was about creating a place where businesses wanted to locate,

  • and so he pushed an initiative called MAPS

  • that basically was a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax

  • to build a bunch of stuff.

  • It built a new sports arena,

  • a new canal downtown,

  • it fixed up our performing arts center,

  • a new baseball stadium downtown,

  • a lot of things to improve the quality of life.

  • And the economy indeed seemed to start

  • showing some signs of life.

  • The next mayor came along.

  • He started MAPS for Kids,

  • rebuilt the entire inner city school system,

  • all 75 buildings either built anew or refurbished.

  • And then, in 2004,

  • in this rare collective lack of judgment

  • bordering on civil disobedience,

  • the citizens elected me mayor.

  • Now the city I inherited

  • was just on the verge

  • of coming out of its slumbering economy,

  • and for the very first time,

  • we started showing up on the lists.

  • Now you know the lists I'm talking about.

  • The media and the Internet

  • love to rank cities.

  • And in Oklahoma City,

  • we'd never really been on lists before.

  • So I thought it was kind of cool

  • when they came out with these positive lists and we were on there.

  • We weren't anywhere close to the top,

  • but we were on the list, we were somebody.

  • Best city to get a job,

  • best city to start a business,

  • best downtown --

  • Oklahoma City.

  • And then came the list

  • of the most obese cities in the country.

  • And there we were.

  • Now I like to point out that we were on that list

  • with a lot of really cool places.

  • (Laughter)

  • Dallas and Houston and New Orleans

  • and Atlanta and Miami.

  • You know, these are cities that, typically,

  • you're not embarrassed to be associated with.

  • But nonetheless, I didn't like being on the list.

  • And about that time, I got on the scales.

  • And I weighed 220 pounds.

  • And then I went to this website

  • sponsored by the federal government,

  • and I typed in my height, I typed in my weight,

  • and I pushed Enter,

  • and it came back and said "obese."

  • I thought, "What a stupid website."

  • (Laughter)

  • "I'm not obese. I would know if I was obese."

  • And then I started getting honest with myself

  • about what had become my lifelong struggle with obesity,

  • and I noticed this pattern,

  • that I was gaining about two or three pounds a year,

  • and then about every 10 years, I'd drop 20 or 30 pounds.

  • And then I'd do it again.

  • And I had this huge closet full of clothes,

  • and I could only wear a third of it at any one time,

  • and only I knew which part of the closet I could wear.

  • But it all seemed fairly normal, going through it.

  • Well, I finally decided I needed to lose weight,

  • and I knew I could because I'd done it so many times before,

  • so I simply stopped eating as much.

  • I had always exercised.

  • That really wasn't the part of the equation

  • that I needed to work on.

  • But I had been eating 3,000 calories a day,

  • and I cut it to 2,000 calories a day,

  • and the weight came off. I lost about a pound a week

  • for about 40 weeks.

  • Along the way, though,

  • I started examining my city,

  • its culture, its infrastructure,

  • trying to figure out why our specific city

  • seemed to have a problem with obesity.

  • And I came to the conclusion

  • that we had built an incredible quality of life

  • if you happen to be a car.

  • (Laughter)

  • But if you happen to be a person,

  • you are combatting the car seemingly at every turn.

  • Our city is very spread out.

  • We have a great intersection of highways,

  • I mean, literally no traffic congestion in Oklahoma City to speak of.

  • And so people live far, far away.

  • Our city limits are enormous, 620 square miles,

  • but 15 miles is less than 15 minutes.

  • You literally can get a speeding ticket

  • during rush hour in Oklahoma City.

  • And as a result, people tend to spread out.

  • Land's cheap.

  • We had also not required developers

  • to build sidewalks on new developments for a long, long time.

  • We had fixed that, but it had been relatively recently,

  • and there were literally 100,000

  • or more homes into our inventory

  • in neighborhoods that had virtually no level of walkability.

  • And as I tried to examine

  • how we might deal with obesity,

  • and was taking all of these elements into my mind,

  • I decided that the first thing we need to do

  • was have a conversation.

  • You see, in Oklahoma City,

  • we weren't talking about obesity.

  • And so, on New Year's Eve of 2007,

  • I went to the zoo,

  • and I stood in front of the elephants,

  • and I said, "This city is going on a diet,

  • and we're going to lose a million pounds."

  • Well, that's when all hell broke loose.

  • (Laughter)

  • The national media

  • gravitated toward this story immediately,

  • and they really could have gone with it one of two ways.

  • They could have said,

  • "This city is so fat

  • that the mayor had to put them on a diet."

  • But fortunately, the consensus was,

  • "Look, this is a problem in a lot of places.

  • This is a city that's wanting to do something about it."

  • And so they started helping us

  • drive traffic to the website.

  • Now, the web address was

  • thiscityisgoingonadiet.com.

  • And I appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"

  • one weekday morning to talk about the initiative,

  • and on that day, 150,000 visits

  • were placed to our website.

  • People were signing up,

  • and so the pounds started to add up,

  • and the conversation that I thought

  • was so important to have was starting to take place.

  • It was taking place inside the homes,

  • mothers and fathers talking about it with their kids.

  • It was taking place in churches.

  • Churches were starting their own running groups

  • and their own support groups

  • for people who were dealing with obesity.

  • Suddenly, it was a topic worth discussing at schools

  • and in the workplace.

  • And the large companies, they typically have

  • wonderful wellness programs,

  • but the medium-sized companies

  • that typically fall between the cracks on issues like this,

  • they started to get engaged and used our program

  • as a model for their own employees

  • to try and have contests to see

  • who might be able to deal with their obesity situation

  • in a way that could be proactively beneficial to others.

  • And then came the next stage of the equation.

  • It was time to push what I called MAPS 3.

  • Now MAPS 3, like the other two programs,

  • had had an economic development motive behind it,

  • but along with the traditional economic development tasks

  • like building a new convention center,

  • we added some health-related infrastructure

  • to the process.

  • We added a new central park, 70 acres in size,

  • to be right downtown in Oklahoma City.

  • We're building a downtown streetcar

  • to try and help the walkability formula

  • for people who choose to live in the inner city

  • and help us create the density there.

  • We're building senior health and wellness centers

  • throughout the community.

  • We put some investments on the river

  • that had originally been invested upon

  • in the original MAPS,

  • and now we are currently in the final stages

  • of developing the finest venue in the world

  • for the sports of canoe, kayak and rowing.

  • We hosted the Olympic trials last spring.

  • We have Olympic-caliber events coming to Oklahoma City,

  • and athletes from all over the world moving in,

  • along with inner city programs

  • to get kids more engaged in these types of recreational activities

  • that are a little bit nontraditional.

  • We also, with another initiative that was passed,

  • are building hundreds of miles of new sidewalks