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Principles for Our Field

Written by Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH on February 19, 2019

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The Principles for Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities set the grounding for new partnerships.

Each person I meet and each conference I attend is different. A community developer confronts issues that seem dramatically unlike the challenges a payor at a health insurance company encounters each day. Yet when we start to talk about our values and goals for what we hope to achieve through our work, I’ve noticed something emerges: a shared vision.

It’s a vision that is built on similar principles. We all want to improve the “upstream social determinants of health” – factors such as affordable housing, good paying jobs, and quality education – and we all know that something isn’t working. Something needs to change.

At the Build Healthy Places Network we think the status quo, where each organization focuses on their narrowly defined issue, isn’t working. Through our storytelling and advocacy, we’re lifting up organizations who are collaborating with new partners and improving the health outcomes of communities. We’ve seen how new partnerships between community development organizations and health organizations can make both sides more efficient and effective.

But partnership has to start somewhere. How do you go from stranger to collaborator? How do you find shared values when you’re meeting with someone for the first time? What foundations can organizations build upon when setting out with new cross-sector partnerships?

During the past year, the Network collaboratively developed a set of values and statements we are calling the Principles for Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities. The Principles represent the best of our fields’ priorities and values. They serve as a starting place to begin conversations and as a place to return to when there is doubt.

How We Got Here

The Principles sprung from our audit, summary, and synthesis of the values, mission statements, and guiding principles of 35 organizations from across sectors working to improve health and community well being. Identifying common themes, we developed and refined the Principles with the guidance of our National Advisory Council and following a public survey of our first draft that received over 200 responses and 1,800 suggestions from across the community development, health, academic, government, finance, and philanthropic sectors.

Principles for the Future

I am excited to bring these Principles to you to consider using as a foundation for your work. Without collaborating with the community, embedding equity, mobilizing across sectors, increasing prosperity and committing to the long term, we know that efforts will fail.

Though the challenges we all face in our work are different, I believe that we share these values and by working together we will create an equitable future where good health and fair opportunity are shared outcomes for all.

Over 45 organization have recognized the values in the Principles for Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities. What do you think?

About the Author

Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH

Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH is Executive Director of the Build Healthy Places Network. Dr. Jutte has been a leader in the Federal Reserve Bank and RWJ Foundation’s Healthy Communities Initiative. He is also a pediatrician, professor and population health researcher at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health where he teaches in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical program. Dr. Jutte graduated from Cornell University and received an MD from Harvard Medical School and a master’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley. He completed his pediatric residency at Stanford University and a post-doctoral fellowship at UCSF through the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program. His clinical work has been in low-income community clinics and as a hospitalist caring for newborn infants.