This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.


It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.


It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mapping Connections Between Healthy Communities, Planning, Placemaking and Asset Based Community Development

Now that New Community Paradigms (NCP) has a more effective map with which to find new pathways it is possible to go back and reconnect with some that may have been missed or left behind. In general, the trend has been away from institutions or more institutionally based systems and toward more complex systems of greater community involvement but this does not and should not mean abandoning institutions entirely. A greater emphasis on ground-up community placemaking should not mean an abandonment of a more traditional role of planning. It is the relationship between the two that should be redefined.  

This goes to a wider issue of the difference between complicated top-down management systems and complex community governance systems. Despite an obvious preference, at least if you have been following this blog, for the later, the need and benefit of the former are still recognized under the proper circumstances. It is the correct relationship between the two that needs to be defined. 

One area in which this could be seen as being helpful is Planning for Healthy Communities, a new page under the NCP wiki. We are using the term “planning” in the sense of the American Planning Association, the foundational, professional, educational oriented organization behind city hall planning departments across the USA. It is able to suggest policy on a national scale and in the case of the Planning and Community Health Center, focuses its efforts on projects and policies that prioritize active living, food systems, and health in all planning policies.

Many local governments have begun Planning for Public Health by including goals and objectives that promote healthy choices of where to live and how to get around, the ability to access healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity, which affect broader issues of social equity, clean air, and water, and more into their comprehensive plans. More specifically, Plan4Health Projects and Initiatives are launching across the United States in neighborhoods, cities, and counties. Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.

“Local coalitions consisting of American Planning Association (APA) chapters and American Public Health Association (APHA) affiliate members are committed to increasing health equity through nutrition or physical activity with each coalition seen as being dedicated to meeting the needs of residents where they live, work, or play.”

The American Planning Association’s Planning and Community Health Research Center has also partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative, on the CDC - Healthy Places - Healthy Community Design Checklist Toolkit. This toolkit, which can help planners, public health professionals, and the general public to include health in the community planning process, is composed of four elements that work together to achieve this goal:
  1. Healthy Community Design Checklist.pdf
  2. Healthy Community Design PowerPoint Presentation.ppt
  3. Creating a Health Profile of Your Neighborhood.pdf
  4. Planning for Health Resources Guide.pdf
It is still, however, a generally top-down application of policy and may never be initiated or fully realized without the intervention of grassroots efforts as well as, as suggested by Paul Born, grass-top organizational efforts.

In the early days of a collective impact approach, we often find that one of two mistakes is made. One is that we gather only the grasstops. That is, we think somehow it’s about shifting power. So we bring the powerful players into the room. The other mistake, almost as common, is that we don’t engage any of the power players because we’re afraid that it will be perceived as a grass-tops initiative.”

There is underlying data that can be gathered and used to inform all perspectives, Health-Impact-Assessment-Can-Inform.pdf, the State-of-Health-Impact-Assessment-in-Planning.pdf, and the HIA-Toolkit.pdf

Additionally, Project for Public Spaces (PPS) recently released an extensive report of peer-reviewed research and case studies, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, demonstrating the power of placemaking to improve health. 

"The Case for Healthy Places is already taking the public health world by storm, and we are confident that this is just the beginning of the Healthy Placemaking Movement!"

Before proceeding further, it should be advised that one could reach all of the following points on the Kumu maps and all others from within the New Community Paradigms Wiki Kumu map itself rather than open in multiple tabs or windows from here. Information on how to navigate through the map can be found through the New Community Paradigms Wiki Map Tour.

A new Planning for Healthy Communities wiki page means a new element on the New Community Paradigms Wiki Map. Wiki-pages are collections of resources related to that topic though are by no means exhaustive. In truth, they are merely gateways into essential, more in-depth studies of the area in question. Their corresponding map elements in conjunction with other elements graphically illustrate possible relationships. It will be noticed that some relationships are more explicit in feeding back to each other.  The idea underlying these mapped out relationships is to expand upon the concepts and avoid the siloing of policy thinking. 

More precisely the Kumu map Planning for Healthy Communities is within the Health Communities Kumu map. One can click on the map’s white space to reveal the fuller map underneath. Other Healthy Communities wiki page links are then displayed in the narrative section. 

Planning for Healthy Communities can be seen as a bridge between Healthy Communities and Community Places within the Places map. Clicking the map’s white space again reveals the numerous wiki pages, bridge pages and other related wiki pages from other wiki maps under the full Places map.

One returns to the collection of web links found on a particular wiki page using the URL within the narrative section of that map element, say Community Places, which focuses more on the community (as a geographic place) planning of building by the community (as social structure). 

Mousing over the highlighted Community Place element of the Places map or any map element shows those wiki pages most directly associated, other overlaying concepts of Place, the wiki focus page of Community Design, the closely related Project for Public Spaces, along with Soul of a Community, and the bridge to Healthy Communities through Planning for Healthy Communities

A similar set of relationships exists with the Healthy Communities element within the Healthy Communities map, including the bridge Planning for Healthy Communities and the related Asset Based Community Development or ABCD. It is the relationship of ABCD in this context that calls for the greatest need for future exploration. 

A short Twitter-talk with Cormac Russell on the CityLab article, The New Front Line of Public Health, on the growing number of community health workers taking a 360-degree view of the barriers that stand between their patients and better health, revealed an ABCD perspective.

“Relative to current malaise it's a quantum leap; relative to what's actually required, it's a mediocre shuffle in the right direction.”

According to Cormac, a significant shift requires seeing beyond healthcare and the proliferation of initiatives like Every Block A Village-Chicago Westside Health Authority.

All of these perspectives can be expanded structurally even further by going to the Wiki Bridges Map in which Planning for Health Communities can be found under *Places of the map’s narrative section. Again, click any white space to reveal the full map. 

More dynamic, complex relationships can be followed as pathways under the Wiki Bridges Pathways Map. Selecting Places Wiki Bridges, one can mouse over the narrative highlighting relevant pathways within the map connecting Places and its elements to other areas of the complete New Community Paradigms map. There isn’t any predetermined route, each group, organization or community determines its own course, preferably by making its own maps.  

2 comments:

  1. Brian, it's been a few months since I last read your blog and looked at your maps. You've done quite a bit since then. Congratulations to you. As someone who uses concept maps and thinks of complex problems, I see your collection as a value, but also something that will be very daunting for most people to navigate and master.

    To me the solution is to extend the learning process and to embed it in learning support structures such as colleges, high schools, faith groups, etc. What strategies are you finding that help people navigate and become fluid in their understanding of this system of maps and ideas?

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  2. Daniel,

    Thanks for the comment. It took me awhile to figure out how to set up to reply to comments.

    I recognize and appreciate that my use of mapping of concepts related to complex problems could be daunting for most people to navigate and to become fluid with in their understanding. I also agree that the most viable solution is to embed it into learning support systems such as high schools and colleges. Not mine so much but general systems thinking so that ideas such as mine have a common language basis upon which to be judged. Without this common basis, we have at least twice the burden in expressing ideas or we retreat to systems thinking forums and talk among ourselves.

    I don't have any strategies and truthfully have not really been trying to develop any. This effort is more exploration and experimentation and the sharing of what I learn but sometimes I overextend and forget that most people are not into my discoveries as I am. I still have far more questions than I do answers so I am going to leave the actual educating to others.

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