Developed by Seabourne Consulting, experts in Planning for Healthy, Equitable Communities

Planning for Healthy, Equitable Communities

photo by craig kerwien on Unsplash


Modern urban planning really took off in the United States as a city-led public health response to poor living conditions in industrial era cities. Since then, the term has expanded to include regions, towns, and rural areas and includes transportation, communication, environmental protection, and public space design. Today’s planning professionals recognize a changing world to include equity and community resiliency as core values. 

 

The American Planning Association (APA) is an independent, not-for-profit professional organization that encourages and supports the leadership of urban planners in creating great communities for all. While acknowledging that the urban planning profession of the past has led to current  injustices—such as exclusionary zoning and lack of equitable transportation infrastructure—the organization is now working to correct racial injustices, mitigate disparities, and improve the quality of life for people in all communities.


Urban planning and public health have had a renewal regarding common missions and perspectives. There is much crossover in the fields: both aim to improve human well-being, emphasize needs assessments, manage complex social systems focused at the population level, and rely on community-based participatory methods.


Community Commons was invited to present at the APA Missouri Chapter’s October 2020 virtual conference on the topic of planning for healthy, equitable communities. Presenters Sara Ivey, an urban planner and public health practitioner herself,  and Erin Barbaro, both from of  IP3—the stewards of Community Commons— shared ways The Commons can assist planners in their work. Watch a video of the presentation below, and explore the suggestions and resources presented here, which can be used within any community planning organization or government entity that is focused on equitable, healthy communities. 




What are the Vital Conditions and Why Use Them for Planning?


The Seven Vital Conditions for Well-Being is a useful framework for looking at  holistic well-being and the conditions that give rise to it. 



The Vital Conditions bring together major determinants of health and help users consider the properties of places and institutions that all people need all the time to be healthy and well. If any vital condition is denied or otherwise unfulfilled, serious adversity can accumulate, leading to excess rates of illness, unemployment, housing distress, food insecurity, loneliness, and more.

The challenges of 2020 illustrated the importance of strong, equitable urban planning for resilient communities, and how unmet vital conditions can have devastating consequences. Innovative thinkers from across the country worked in tandem to create Thriving Together: A Springboard for Equitable Recovery and Resilience in Communities Across America. This resource highlights scores of actions that communities, organizations, businesses, governments and funders can take to help America heal through the trauma of 2020 and secure the vital conditions that all people and places need to thrive. 


“Our best hope for escaping the adversity spiral and changing course is to organize local and nationwide action around a single, unifying, and measurable expectation: All people and places thriving—no exceptions.”Thriving Together: A Springboard for Equitable Recovery and Resilience in Communities Across America



Community Commons Enhances Planning


Community Commons can support application of well-being concepts in all steps of community planning:

        • Visioning
        • Engaging
        • Ideating + Implementing
        • Scaling + Spreading


        Here is a quick orientation to The Commons before we dig into the steps.



        Step 1: Advance a Vision for Health and Well-Being

        Comprehensive and community plans often start with a vision for a community’s development over a multi-decade frame. Implicit in such visions are a desire to improve well-being, prosperity and community conditions. An explicit focus on well-being—both individual and vital community conditions can galvanize cross-sector potential. 


        To create the conditions for community well-being, we must look back at ongoing, historic influences, and forward to the major forces that shape current and future priorities, and take an approach that enhances individual well-being—how we think, feel, and function, as well as how we evaluate our lives as a whole—and the vital conditions that we all need to reach our potential.


        Measuring a community's well-being is an important step to inform creation of a new vision. The recently released Science of Thriving has an informed an easy-to-use, real time survey called the Well-Being Assessment that measures well-being and has the ability to catalyze change and assess progress on what matters most in communities, and get a better understanding of the degree to which a community is thriving, struggling or suffering, and in what ways. 


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        Well-Being
        Topic
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        Commons Good Podcast
        Resource - Podcast
        Brought to you by Community Commons
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        Visualizing Wellbeing: The Collection
        Resource - Blog
        Published on 09/19/2019
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        The Science of Thriving
        Story - Original
        Brought to you by Community Commons
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        National Civic Review: Thriving Together Pathways to Renewal
        Story - Written
        Brought to you by National Civic League
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        Health in All Planning Policies
        Resource
        Published on 11/01/2016
        Staff Pick!
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        HIAs and Other Resources to Advance Health-Informed Decisions
        Resource
        Brought to you by The Pew Charitable Trusts
        Staff Pick!
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        Visualizing Health
        Tool
        Brought to you by University of Michigan
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        Step 2: Engage the Whole Community

        Whole community engagement is especially important when the goal is to find ways to improve well-being for all. It is crucial to include dialogue in your community change process, especially those with lived experiences. According to the Communities WIN Dialogue Guide, dialogue “strengthens our sense of belonging and connection by building relationships.” Dialogue allows groups of people with a diversity of perspectives, to listen, share, and discover—all in the name of community change. 


        Dialogue also demands that we enter every conversation with three intentions:

        • Listen for what’s true for others
        • Share what’s true for you
        • Discover what we share in common

        While these intentions may seem simple in concept, in practice they often push boundaries. Learn more.


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        Virtual Seminars Provide Training & Dialogue on Building Healthy, Equitable Communities
        Story - Original
        Brought to you by Community Commons
        Published on 04/03/2018
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        WIN Network: The Story and Dialogue Cooperative
        Resource
        Brought to you by Community Commons
        Published on 06/02/2020
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        Community Tool Box: Increasing Participation and Membership
        Tool
        Brought to you by KU Center for Community Health and Development: Community Tool Box
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        Dialogue as a Process for Community Change
        Story - Original
        Brought to you by Community Commons
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        Engaging People with Lived Experience Toolkit
        Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
        Brought to you by 100MHL

        Step 3: Inspirational Ideas and Implementing for Change

        Engaging stakeholders and the public in dialogue taps into story, which can be a powerful vehicle through which communities can ideate and advocate for change. Looking outside a community can also lead to inspiration that brings new ideas of what is possible to the table. The most innovative, sustainable strategies are often shared and inspired by those working on the ground. Community Commons seeks to lift up inspiration from communities around the U.S. When we  share stories, we can learn from each other and spread real change for the greater good. 


        Once new ideas are shared, policy change becomes a useful tool to improve population health by advancing initiatives that can affect the behaviors of entire populations more efficiently than one-off programs.


        Importantly, policies to advance well-being are not limited to formal policies passed through local, state, or federal legislation. Often policy change is more feasible at the organizational level. Businesses, neighborhoods, and institutions have capacity to implement important policies that advance equitable well-being. 

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        WIN Network: The Story and Dialogue Cooperative
        Resource
        Brought to you by Community Commons
        Published on 06/02/2020
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        100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library
        Library
        Brought to you by IHI
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        The Origins of Environmental Justice—and Why it’s Finally Getting the Attention it Deserves
        Story - Written
        Brought to you by National Geographic Society
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        Community Tool Box: Influencing Policy Development
        Tool
        Brought to you by KU Center for Community Health and Development: Community Tool Box
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        Smart Growth Clearinghouse
        Tool
        Published on 03/16/2015
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        Moving from Programs to Policy, Systems, and Environmental Changes
        Resource - Webinar
        Brought to you by HRIA
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        Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change Resource Guide
        Resource - Guide/handbook
        Brought to you by CCCNP
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        We Are Here: Housing Insecurity in Cincinnati: The Collection
        Story - Original
        Brought to you by Community Commons
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        Bright Spots
        Resource - Data Bank/repository
        Published on 07/22/2020
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        Getting Started With Policy Change
        Resource - Guide/handbook
        Brought to you by CHR&R
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        What Is Policy, Systems and Environmental (PSE) Change?
        Resource
        Brought to you by The Food Trust

        Step 4: Scaling and Spreading Success Across Sectors

        Scaling happens when a proven idea is carried forward to other sectors of a community, and then potentially spreads beyond the original plan to unique or diverse situations. This is often seen in system transformation—changing or redesigning systems to shift the conditions that hold a problem in place. Shifting conditions for systems change requires stewards to think and act in new ways to create new legacies of dignity and inclusion.

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        Overview of SCALE and a Community of Solutions
        Resource - Report
        Brought to you by 100MHL
        Published on 07/01/2017
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        Transforming Systems for Wellbeing and Equity
        Resource - Guide/handbook
        Brought to you by Community Commons
        Published on 07/14/2020
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        The Changemaker's Guide: A Community Planning Curriculum
        Resource - Guide/handbook
        Published on 01/01/2014
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        Long-Range Planning for Health, Equity & Prosperity: A Primer for Local Governments
        Resource - Guide/handbook
        Brought to you by ChangeLab Solutions
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        Building Healthy Places Toolkit
        Tool
        Brought to you by Urban Land Institute
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        Stewardship
        Story - Original
        Brought to you by Community Commons

         Related Topics


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        Community Organizing