This policy report from PolicyLink highlights the importance of a place-based perspective in building healthy communities. The framework described in this report provides a way to understand the relationship between community conditions and health, analyzes the connections among all of the environmental factors that contribute to a healthy community, and identifies both protective and negative environmental effects on community health.
This report’s case studies highlight examples of groups working to increase and fortify protective factors—in economic, social, physical, and service environments— throughout California and the country. The case studies show how the experience and voice of community members are critical for successful place-based strategies. Many of the efforts profiled represent innovative partnerships and new alliances for change. These collaborations are influencing policymakers—in the public, business, and nonprofit sectors—producing real change in communities and states. Many of the efforts also involve people of color in leadership positions, building the capacity of local leaders to advocate for policy change, showcasing the need for a focus on equitable outcomes.
Fourteen recommendations emerge from research, practice, and efforts for policy change:
- Capitalize on emerging opportunities and prioritize needs
- Promote a comprehensive approach
- Maintain a focus on equity and eliminating health disparities
- Involve residents and leaders in policy change efforts
- Build the capacity to analyze and solve community problems
- Foster collaborations and alliances
- Use local efforts as platforms for regional and state change
- Push local governments, particularly public health departments, to prioritize healthy communities
- Translate research to highlight the link between community conditions and individual health and to provide insights about the effectiveness of different approaches
- Create healthy environments to support healthy personal choices
- Document and disseminate success stories
- Help the media reframe stories
- Invest for the long-term
- Broaden the platform for change
The report was funded by The California Endowment.