One Poem At A Time billboard as part of Project HEAL.

One Poem At A Time billboard as part of Project HEAL.

It’s time for Louisville to lead in health, and that means taking three steps.

The first is to ensure that everyone can afford to see a doctor when they’re sick.

The second is to make preventive care, like screening for cancer, available to people who otherwise won’t or can’t go in for it.

The third is to stop thinking of health as something we get at the doctor’s office but instead as something that is rooted in the culture of our families, neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.

The more health is seen this way, the more opportunities are available to improve it. This is why the Louisville Health Advisory Board’s Cultural/Social Impact Committee is focused on culture, policy and data as key drivers of community health.

Some may think that culture, policy and data aren’t related. However, it is the intersection of these three things that we often find breakthrough solutions that drive social innovation.

Core Cultural/Social Impact committee strategies include:

  • Health in All Policies Ambassadors – This networking opportunity organized by the Institute of Healthy Air Water & Soil brings together everyday citizen’s who have made the health of their communities a priority. The group shares learnings, and best practices.
  • One Poem at A Time – a policy initiative stemming from IDEAS xLab’s Project HEAL that seeks to mitigate the negative impact of the predatory, high-density messages on billboards and posters in low-income neighborhoods with significant health disparities like the Smoketown neighborhood.
  • Health Impact Assessments – the committee is playing a supporting role in promoting the use of Health Impact Assessments in Louisville.
  • Creating a Wellbeing Index for Louisville – through an innovative partnership with the City of Santa Monica's Office of Civic Wellbeing (CA), the committee is in the early stages of developing a create a "wellbeing index" for Louisville as part of IDEAS xLab’s Project HEAL. This new data, which will be open-source, development and planning tool for all Louisville neighborhoods, assesses 5 factors (data, impact, equity, culture, policy) of community readiness for change across 5 dimensions: Community; Place + Planet; Learning; Health; Economic Opportunity. 
  • Louisville Sports Commission – the committee is engaged in finding new ways to build active lifestyles into the culture of Louisville’s many diverse neighborhoods. Example of projects include: Louisville Active; Kids Finish First; Corporate Games; and Play It Forward.

Our understanding of what creates healthy communities is in a period of significant change. Grappling with the authenticity that makes each community unique; ensuring equity for the most vulnerable; and actively creating new models for wellbeing, inclusive economies and civic engagement; these are the challenges that may also present significant opportunities to accelerate the pace of positive impact in community health.

Thanks to the work of the LHAB Cultural/Social Impact Committee, a cross-sector team is coming together for a learning exchange and to create innovative approaches to policy change and new data tools that can support the social, economic, and environmental health of Louisville communities. The unique approach being deployed by this committee is also geared toward building civic trust, opportunities to increase transparency, and nurture a shared desire to make government more accessible and responsive to the needs of all people.

About the authors:

Theo Edmonds and Grace Simrall co-chair the Cultural/Social Impact Committee for LHAB.

 Theo Edmonds, JD, MHA, MFA is Chief Imaginator + Co-Founder of IDEAS xLab. He is a futurist, artist, poet and social entrepreneur. A former healthcare executive and champion clogger, he was named as one of "50 People Changing the Face of the South" by Southern Living Magazine.

Theo Edmonds, JD, MHA, MFA is Chief Imaginator + Co-Founder of IDEAS xLab. He is a futurist, artist, poet and social entrepreneur. A former healthcare executive and champion clogger, he was named as one of "50 People Changing the Face of the South" by Southern Living Magazine.

 Grace Simrall was named Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology for Louisville Metro Government in August 2016 and in that role is responsible for advising the Mayor and leading Louisville Metro’s initiatives on emerging technologies and breakthrough innovations.

Grace Simrall was named Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology for Louisville Metro Government in August 2016 and in that role is responsible for advising the Mayor and leading Louisville Metro’s initiatives on emerging technologies and breakthrough innovations.