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March 11, 2016 2:36 PMCategory: Nutrition, Physical Activity

Community Context for Planning and Public Health


In the United States, the intersection of public health and planning has ebbed and flowed depending on the issues of the time and the perception of community health. Recently, the two fields have experienced increasing crossover due to concerted collaborative efforts and a general move towards thinking about health in a broader sense.

An article in Smart Growth Information Clearinghouse discussed the American Planning Association’s efforts to integrate health and planning, specifically through the Plan4Health project. Highlighting the Plan4Health coalitions in St. Louis, Mount Hope in Providence, Rhode Island, and Dane County, Wisconsin, the article focuses on the effort to bring together planning and public health in specific communities. The Plan4Health project is particularly impactful because of its wide geographic spread — the 35 coalitions across 27 states, located in rural, suburban, and urban areas, makes this work relevant to communities across the country.

The importance of such context is outlined in a piece on the Active Living by Design blog, entitled New Partners: Smarter about Context. Because every community has its own unique characteristics, culture, and history, place-based work must start with a comprehensive understanding of context.

Read the full article for lessons learned about community context.