Plan4Health Success Story: Communicating about Health in Minnesota

Plan4Health connects communities across the country, funding work at the intersection of planning and public health. Anchored by American Planning Association (APA) chapters and American Public Health Association (APHA) affiliates, Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.

APA's Minnesota Chapter leveraged the Planners4Health opportunity to initiate a study using focus groups to gather input on how planners thought about and communicated health and planning.

As part of the initiative, the chapter convened the eight national organization state chapters signed on to the Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities. The convening brought Minnesota planners, architects, landscape architects, public health practitioners, engineers, parks and recreation professionals, developers, and communications professionals together.

Over lunch attendees built relationships with other organization members, learned about the work each organization is doing — especially around health — and explored future opportunities to align, collaborate, and partner.

The convening ended with a renewed sense of purpose that our collective professions have a major role and directly impact our physical and mental health where we live, work, and play.

The convened group agreed to continue meeting in 2018 to continue the discussion on collaboration strategies and develop a Minnesota joint healthy communities call to action. A Planning for People task force member will coordinate and facilitate meetings over the year.

Additionally, a Planning for People focus group report will be used by the APA Minnesota Chapter Board during an upcoming 10-year strategic planning process. Is it expected the report will inform and serve to integrate health and equity into the chapter's mission, goals and activities. The chapter's intent is to inspire and encourage planners to make healthy people the priority lens through which all planning decisions are made.

Top image: Illustration detail from "Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities."

About the Author
Ellen Pillsbury, AICP, is the active transportation coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Health.

August 23, 2018

By Ellen Pillsbury, AICP