Archives


Click below to read past ConcordCAN columns in published the Concord Journal.

Columns


Building a Healthy and Sustainable Concord

By Bob Andrews

A healthy community is not just a community with low rates of disease. It is one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and psychological environment. It is strong, resilient, and sustainable. The Town of Concord deserves high praises for seeking to pursue this higher standard of community health. Because of its higher aspirations, the Town was recently awarded a Community Health Network Area (CHNA) THRIVE Planning Grant, which is administered by the Concord Public Health Division.A healthy community is not just a community with low rates of disease. It is one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and psychological environment. It is strong, resilient, and sustainable. The Town of Concord deserves high praises for seeking to pursue this higher standard of community health. Because of its higher aspirations, the Town was recently awarded a Community Health Network Area (CHNA) Planning Grant, which is administered by the Concord Public Health Division.

CHNA15 is one of 27 Community Health Network Areas in Massachusetts, created by the Mass. Dept. of Public Health in 1992. CHNA Planning Grants aim at assessing a community's health in the very broadest sense: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The goal of the project is to assess the overall well being of the community, using an open and inclusive process that will identify our existing health resources, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses or gaps and suggest as yet unmet needs. If important needs are identified, a second CHNS grant may be available to address them. Our neighbors, Acton and Lincoln, received similar grants in past years and were then awarded follow-up grants to help build system improvements.

In order to guide the implementation of this project, a Steering Group has been created, chaired by Public Health Director, Susan Rask. The Steering Group is composed of Town staff, plus representatives of a variety of constituent/stakeholder groups, including ConcordCAN. It's charge is to guide the project and ensure an open, interactive process that represents a variety of perspectives. Thanks to the planning grant, the Steering Group will soon be working with a paid consultant, who will actually do much of the statistical research and public outreach that the project requires.

ConcordCAN was asked to participate in this because we are well known as an advocate for sustainable community, and because we have a large constituency of individuals and groups that are solidly behind what we are doing. We are also an organization that is very concerned about global climate change; and we know that climate change can be expected to have very significant impacts on community health. As it advances it will adversely affect the mental, spiritual, and physical health of those who live and work here.

Shifts in climate can usher in, or magnify, certain diseases. Higher average temperatures, for example, can stimulate the proliferation of the ticks that cause Lyme Disease. Respiratory ailments such as asthma can become a more serious and widespread issue. As more and more droughts and floods occur, there can be large, stress-related impacts on mental and emotional health. We want our community to be able to rise to the challenge as we find ways to adapt.

ConcordCAN's perspective on health is only one of many compelling perspectives. We believe strongly in working with the municipality and other citizen groups to explore all of these perspectives and build together a community that we can all agree is both sustainable and healthy.

You may be approached this fall or winter by the town's grant-funded consultant, and/or by one of us, to find out what you think about Concord's broadly defined health assets and needs. We hope that you (and the groups to which you belong) will gladly share your observations and perspectives with the interviewers and/or complete printed surveys. You will be hearing more about this project; and you may be asked to participate in it. We hope that you will see it as an opportunity.

Bob Andrews is a Concord resident and member of the ConcordCAN Steering Group

Top