The group who assembles at MAPP of the Southern Kenai Peninsula meetings is striking for its diversity. Professionals from public health, Seldovia Village Tribe and the hospital are joined with the director of the Kachemak Bay Campus, the director of the Homer Foundation, even a City of Homer representative. Islands and Ocean Visitor Center biologists go to the meetings. Even Cook Inletkeeper was represented at the last meeting.
Why so broad? Likely because it takes all of us to make a meaningful change toward becoming more healthy. What does a healthy town look like? Well, it’s not the “quaint little drinking town with a fishing problem.”
The important work of MAPP is a look at adverse conditions that perpetuate ill health in general. Specifically, they are looking at substance abuse and economic problems, barriers to good nutrition and environmental factors. They compile surveys and measure a range of data.
Lately, due to the problems we as a town need to address in light of teen behavior, MAPP’s ideas stand all the more relevant. The goal is to make us all aware of adverse childhood experiences so that we can, through awareness, stop the behavior that can negatively impact our children. The bottom line goal of MAPP is to make changes possible through awareness activities, our day-to-day way of looking at our own actions that perpetuate ill health.
The literature produced or discovered by MAPP is available to all people via its website, http://www.homerpreventionproject.org/index.php It’s not all dry reading or preachy. The information frames ideas, makes analysis available, gives gentle advice. Let’s take a look at the Five Conditions of Collective Impact, for example.
• The common agenda is that all participants have a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.
• Shared Measurement: Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants makes sure efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.
• Mutually Reinforcing Activities: Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
• Continuous Communication: Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation.
• Backbone Support: Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies.
The idea is that social progress can be made with these five conditions as opposed to the isolated impact in which countless nonprofit, business, and government organizations each work to address social problems independently. The complex nature of most social problems belies the idea that any single program or organization, however well managed and funded, can singlehandedly create lasting large-scale change. This strikes as common sense – no man is an island. South Peninsula Hospital can’t create new models for healthier living by itself. The SVT Medical Clinic can’t do it alone. But picture how agents for change come together and breathe new ideas and programs into the community.
That’s what it’s going to take to become a quaint fishing town with a healthy outlook.
Tonight, Gov. Sean Parnell joins in the Homer dialogue started by Haven House called “Voices over Violence.” The event will be at the Mariner Theatre at 5:30 p.m. tonight. This is the second public meeting called by Haven House to look at issues around sexual assault, on not being a bystander and on how to respond safely in the face of violence. The dialogue aims at arming us all with strategies for long-lasting change.
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