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Healthy Places by Design

Having met some of the staff of Healthy Places by design at the 2023 Building Connected Communities conference and in subsequent calls, I can say they are incredible people who are very kind and helpful in advising on community building. I can’t thank them enough for their pioneering work in social connection. Below is a summary of some of their work.


The vision of Healthy Places by Design is to create a nation of healthy, equitable communities where everyone reaches their full potential. The organization believes that health and well-being are fundamental human rights, with a mission to advance community-led action and proven, place-based strategies to ensure health and well-being for all. Toward this end, they have examined the design and planning of communities to promote health and well-being. 

Their key principles include designing spaces that encourage physical activity, ensuring access to healthy food options, promoting social interaction through community spaces, prioritizing safety, incorporating environmental sustainability, and ensuring accessibility for people of all abilities. They look at full scope collaboration with urban planners, architects, public health professionals, community leaders, and residents, tailoring specific strategies to the unique characteristics and needs of each community.

Healthy Places by Design is a strategic partner for communities and their investors, facilitating connections between community leaders, sharing success stories, and providing guidance to deepen their capacity as changemakers. The services offered include strategic consulting and advising, direct technical assistance to community coalitions and leaders, and collaborative learning facilitation. The organization's Community Action Model guides their collaborative work, emphasizing the importance of a community's context, defining essential practices for success, and outlining a 3P Action Cycle: Partner, Prepare, and Progress.

Action Guide

A significant aspect of their work involves addressing social connectedness. They assist health-focused foundations and organizations in exploring ways to enhance social connectedness as a layer to achieve broader health and well-being improvement goals. The Collaboration Lab, provided to community-level leaders, cultivates collaboration skills in service to positive systems-level change.

In collaboration with Einhorn Collaborative, the Foundation for Social Connection, and Harvard University's Human Flourishing Program, they have launched the Action Guide for Building Socially Connected Communities. This interactive toolkit is a roadmap for local leaders to promote meaningful social connection and belonging for community flourishing. 


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