The 2017 Year of Healthy Communities
Vitalyst began FY2017 with an idea – a big one. We knew it was time to more formally extend the health conversation beyond health care, and we knew some great partners who could collaborate with us to get things started. Our convening and collaboration genes kicked into high gear, and by January 2017 we announced our intention to make 2017 the Year of Healthy Communities.
We started out with a framework and four goals. The Elements of a Healthy Community wheel served as that frame, and it quickly and intuitively made sense to people. The goals functioned to clarify our intent: (1) to identify, lift up and celebrate the great work happening statewide; (2) to connect that work, both within and across sectors; (3) to help shift the health paradigm so that we recognize health as more than health care; and (4) to ultimately influence policies and systems for change.
We finished the fiscal year at the end of June with a solid start, and with gratitude for the organizations, associations, partners and new contacts who opened their doors and their collective minds to the idea. Here’s what happened:
- Vitalyst kicked things off by launching a new website at livewellaz.org, featuring pages devoted to each of the Elements of a Healthy Community. We were “building the plane as it flew,” and partners were quick to contribute so that the site evolved as a resource and reference hub over time.
- We launched a series of radio show-style webinars that took place in January, March and May. Twelve sector experts contributed their insights, experience and even their struggles through these one-hour dialogues. Each webinar concluded not only with great feedback from an average of 100 attendees, but also with the guests saying that they could easily have stayed for another hour of extended dialogue.
- Vitalyst gave more than 20 presentations, workshops and group dialogues reaching more than 800 attendees. Our first was a memorable cross-border workshop in Yuma. We went on to meet with sector associations, Arizona State University, and the state’s two largest councils of governments (Maricopa Association of Governments and the Pima Association of Governments). We also began work with several county health departments, engaged our philanthropic peers and played a variety of roles in events like Urban Land Institute’s Trends Day, the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Statewide Food Summit, and the Arizona Healthy Communities Conference.
By June, our most clear learning was that the 2017 Year of Healthy Communities experience was helping to trigger important conversations and thinking, in addition to connecting unlikely new partners in exciting ways. We also started to develop a sense that one calendar year was likely not going to be enough time for the discussions, collaborations, network building, and investment needed to reach our goals. Most importantly, we knew that we were entering into expanding territory and planting seeds that would – with time and attention – yield exciting new opportunities for all of Arizona to experience improved health and well-being in the long run.
In other words, we knew we were on to something, and excited to see the Year of Healthy Communities through as we ended FY2017.