Community Voices for Health Project Underway in Monroe County
The input and engagement of the public are vital to important decision-making in our community. Decisions that impact health are particularly important, and participation by all segments of the community is critical to making sound decisions that benefit all. Recognizing that this level of engagement rarely occurs and that some members of our community are often left out of the process altogether, the Community Justice and Mediation Center (CJAM), in conjunction with the Bloomington Health Foundation (BHF), has embarked on a project to correct that injustice.
Building on existing partnerships and resources, the Community Voices for Health (CVH) project seeks to develop a model for meaningful, inclusive, and equitable engagement by community members with leaders and decision-makers around topics that affect health. “It’s important to recognize that decisions affecting health are not always health care decisions. Walking trails and exercise facilities also affect health. Housing and food insecurity affect health, as does lack of transportation. Health should be a consideration in all community planning,” said Liz Grenat, CJAM executive director. “We are in the process of collecting examples from other communities that are creating ‘health in all policies’ frameworks for decision making and stronger public engagement. When you look to change systems and create strong pathways for participation, health equity becomes a community reality.”
Community Voices for Health is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and CJAM and BHF have developed a group of collaborating partners with varying areas of expertise to help guide the work. The project is being carried out in several stages, and now has its first year under its belt. The overall aim is to bring together a broad range of people, especially marginalized and underserved communities, to build and strengthen networks, solve problems, and contribute in meaningful ways to policy decisions that impact the health and well-being of our community. In the end, the hope is to have created a model that can be replicated in other communities, thus extending its impact.
For now, the team is collecting data and information to guide the next stages. “We have to understand what the core issues are that really impact health for all populations in the community. To do this, we have to build strong relationships with people from different perspectives and backgrounds. This goes for those who bring research and academic knowledge, and those who bring their life experiences to the table,” says Grenat.
CVH is still actively engaged in seeking out those various perspectives and would appreciate any assistance the community can provide. This information is being collected in three ways: facilitated small group discussions, individual interviews, and written stories. Thoughts and ideas from members of the community can help create a sound model for meaningful, deliberative, and inclusive engagement in Monroe County.
To learn more about CVHMC, click here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for Community Voices for Health, Monroe County, is provided in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.
*Grant project partners also include Gnarly Tree Sustainability Institute, the I.U. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, I.U. Public and Civic Engagement Program (PACE) and I.U. Center for Rural Engagement.