Projects

My projects have examined the realities of bridging the health sector and communities. They’ve involved convenings, writing, research, and running a nonprofit.

JULY 2022 - ONGOING

In collaboration with Ratio, a series of conversations exploring what power is and how community power is linked to better health

Since July 2022, I have been working with Ratio to put together a series of conversations with scholars and practitioners on the link between community power and health. The interviews, which will be broadcast as a series within Ratio’s podcast, Ratio Talks, will explore what power is, how community power is linked to better health, the limitations of community power, and examples of current work. Ratio is a UK-based community interest company that’s exploring how social connection shapes health and development. It uses its learning to design better ways of living.

Community Power Podcast Series
Agency, Belonging & Health

February 2020 - ONGOING

A look at the medical evidence to see whether having agency (A) and belonging (B) can change (C) the odds on health

Since the start of 2020, I have been exploring the bio-medical literature to understand whether having agency and a sense of belonging make good health more likely. This work is in partnership with the California Endowment. In December 2020, we published a report on the link between community agency and health, and are now using it to write an article on how health policy and the practice of public health need to change to embrace community power. The work is set to continue until the end of 2022.

November 2019 (Third Version)

An application tool designed to reset the relationship between the health sector and communities

Through my writing and research, I have gleaned 12 practice-based principles for how to work with communities. I gleaned the 12 principles from the struggles of almost 100 community-oriented practitioners. The principles began life as a set of recurring themes for why community-oriented work often fails. I flipped these themes into 12 things that prospective community-oriented practitioners should consider to minimize their risk of failure. This tool has been created to help you understand, embrace and apply the 12 principles as part of your community health work.

A Practice-Based Framework for Working with Communities
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November 2017 - December 2018

With support from The California Endowment, this project examined how public health might use power building as a way to improve health

Delivered through my former nonprofit (Bridging Health & Community, Inc; see below) and in partnership with Collaborative Consulting, we explored how well public health understands the importance of community power to health, what is preventing the profession from embracing power-building as a health strategy, and what opportunities in the current landscape might help bring about change. The work included a detailed analysis of how change has happened in public health, including the role of narrative.

April 2018 (Second Edition)

An eBook co-edited with Stanford Social Innovation Review exploring what it looks like to work with communities rather than on them

Building on a meeting hosted by the Institute of Medicine in August 2014, this collection of essays began as a series on Stanford Social Innovation Review. In 2015, the series was published as an eBook with a Foreword by Sir Harry Burns, the former Chief Medical Officer of Scotland. The eBook was re-issued in April 2018 under the name of my former nonprofit, Bridging Health & Community, Inc (see below).

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May 2017

A two-day symposium in Oakland, CA, that explored how the health sector might work differently to better understand how communities define their health

Delivered through my former nonprofit, Bridging Health & Community, Inc (see below), and in collaboration with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and MIT Community Innovators Lab, this symposium sought to showcase work illustrating how the health sector might need to change to respond to communities. Its major supporters were The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and its editorial partners included Active Living By Design and ISAIAH.

November 2016 – December 2018

A Seattle-based nonprofit through which I funnelled my US-based community health work as a way to grow the broader field of practice

Key members of the Creating Health Collaborative (see above) and I launched a nonprofit dedicated to “bridging the health sector and local communities through shared connection, capacity and opportunity”. Our three major achievements were our application tool, our national symposium, and the research into power building for health – all listed above. We closed the nonprofit because we found that our customers became foundations, not the health sector or local communities.

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August 2016 – December 2018

A two-year project to better understand how statutory systems in the UK fail those most in need

I, together with seven others, sought to truly understand why systems in the UK fail to understand or respond to those most in need. Through our work, including interviews of 34 community-oriented practitioners, we learnt of the need for greater parity between systems and citizens. Our analysis told us that some practitioners were already working this way, and would value being part of a community of practice. However, we found few funders willing to nurture such a community.

July 2015 - March 2016

A nine-month project examining the evidence linking agency to health and using it to propose a new approach to community health for a place-based foundation

In this work, we harnessed and examined experiential and academic knowledge linking agency and health. We blended what we learnt into a critique of the foundation’s idea of approaching community health through the lens of well-being and agency (rather than bio-medical measures). We also proposed an approach for the foundation to test a refined version of its ideas in practice.

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2014 - 2016

A highly-curated meeting of community-oriented practitioners willing to share the realities of their health-related work

Hosted by Loeb & Loeb in their Manhattan offices, these meetings are safe spaces in which community-oriented practitioners from different sectors are encouraged to share the struggles of their work with a view to learning from each other. Each meeting has about 20 participants and takes five months to prepare. There have been three to date (2014, 2015 & 2016) and more meetings are being considered. If you’re interested in participating, please get in touch.

February 2013 – October 2014

An exploration to better understand how communities define their health and whether it was possible to create it

This work began with the insight that the demand for care in high-income countries had outstripped supply and would continue to do so – despite the many innovations I’d seen as the Physician Editor of TEDMED. I believed that at the heart of the challenge was the inability to see health as more than just the ‘absence of disease’. I sought to find new definitions of health, as well as practitioners trying to work with them. This project was the foundation of all of the other projects listed above.

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