In 2022, the Healthcare Foundation launched community-led research and visioning projects for future community wellness centers (CWCs) in Cloverdale and Windsor, with a plan to extend this effort to Healdsburg in 2024. The CWC convenings are based on consistent evidence that cultivating community belonging through safe, culturally sensitive community spaces improves community health and mental health. Aptly, the participants named the project Nuestra Comunidad Sana | Our Healthy Community.
These in-depth convenings were made possible with funding from the North Sonoma County Healthcare District and Providence, and the active engagement and expertise of a coalition of community partners that includes Nuestra Comunidad and On the Margins, as well as La Familia Sana (Cloverdale), Alexander Valley Healthcare (Cloverdale), and Alliance Medical Center (Windsor).
The project invited local residents into a deep inquiry and visioning process that centers community member input for what health and wellness looks like for them. The project’s aim is to support the social and cultural life and expressed needs of all residents, while devoting special attention to lifting the voices of Latine community members. In each town, facilitators asked, “What does a safe, vibrant, green community space of belonging look like in Cloverdale/Windsor?”
Nuestra Comunidad Sana | Our Healthy Community convened its first community meeting in Cloverdale in July 2022, concluding the process a year later with a total of 181 participants surveyed, six focus groups convened (with a total of 47 participants), and four community events held at popular local venues. The process included participatory mapping, data collection and analysis, and a report being presented back to participants to further develop the community vision for a CWC in Cloverdale.
Windsor convenings began in July of this year and will end in summer 2024, with 146 interviews conducted so far and a total of 10 focus groups planned. Next steps involve sharing the research findings and vision forged by participants with the City Council in each area, and beginning to look for land, resources and partners to move the Nuestra Comunidad Sana | Our Healthy Community vision into the community-led design phase. We look forward to sharing updates as each project moves forward.
What Key Lessons Did We Learn?
- Using individual interviews, canvassing, focus groups, community meetings, and participatory mapping offers a variety of opportunities to collect data with diverse populations.
- Research that is equitable must privilege and center sources of knowledge within BIPOC communities.
- Data collection is more effective when curiosity, active listening, guided imagery, and art are active ingredients of the community-engaged process.
- An ongoing practice of activities that give full rein to imagination and the range of possibilities is critical for asset-based research to be successful.
- When working with Latine communities, engagement must center on safety, dignity, open communication, and linguistic justice.
- Participants expressed feeling uncertain about available land, resources and municipal support: they want to know next steps in realizing Nuestra Comunidad Sana | Our Healthy Community, and to continue to be involved in the design process.