From the HIP Blog

Tell me what you’re for, not what you’re against

February 6, 2017

“What can I do?” It’s the question we at Human Impact Partners are asking ourselves, each other, and pretty much anyone who will discuss it — and one that we hear swirling in the streets during these post-inauguration days. A powerhouse panel took on this question at a recent Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco, titled “Movement Leaders on Civil Rights in an Uncivil Time.” The diverse minds that night included Lariza Dugan Cuadra of Carecen SF, Rashad Robinson of the Color of Change, Abdi Soltani of the ACLU of Northern California, Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate, and moderator / KQED host and anchor Mina Kim. Here are salient points from the conversation that we pass along and adapt for fellow health-loving folks also searching for answers to what they can do. The list starts broadly, then hones in on actions specifically for public health. 1) First take a step back, and recognize what is going on today. Currently, there is a broad-based undermining of fundamental rights in the US — the right to vote, to a free press, and to decisions based on scientific fact, for example. It is an undoing of what people of this country and some of their ancestors have struggled… Read More >>

Public Health Awakened: A movement whose time is now

February 6, 2017

Donald Trump made many promises on the campaign trail, many of which were unconscionable to those working to advance health, equity, and justice. Those promises and the harmful and hateful rhetoric of the campaign are well embodied in Trump’s 100 Days Plan — a set of proposals articulating the Administration’s agenda and priorities. If anything is clear from these initial weeks, it is that Trump and his enablers are ready and willing to act, often spitefully, on this regressive and anti-democratic vision of America. About the plan, let us say loud and clear: There is no end to the harms that may be inflicted on people, families, and communities. Both because of the actual policies proposed AND because of the ethos of divisiveness and bigotry that undergird every element in this plan. In this climate, public health advocates — especially those operating from a structural and social determinants framework — have endless opportunities to resists the harms to health. One of our first responsibilities is to understand, what is at stake for the health of communities? Here’s a snapshot: In brief, you can see that every building block of health — at the individual, institution, or community level — is bound to lose, with the impacts disproportionately felt among black… Read More >>

Revocations in Wisconsin: Update on Report Release

February 1, 2017

  Last month, we were truly honored to join partners WISDOM and EX-Prisoners Organizing in person to release the new report: Excessive Revocations in Wisconsin: The Health Impacts of Locking People Up without a New Conviction. Despite frigid temperatures in Wisconsin, people came out. Across the state — in Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, Eau Claire, and Green Bay — they came out. It’s a testament to the talented organizers working on the ground from our partner organizations, from Thrive Wisconsin health equity alliance, and others. It’s also a testament to the urgency of this topic in Wisconsin, where nearly 3,000 people were put in prison in 2015 alone for revocation without a new conviction, for an average of 1.5 years and costing the state more than $147 million. People came out to hear speakers like Paula Tran Inzeo and Dr. Geoffrey Swain summarize what the research finds—that it’s bad for individual and family health and doesn’t necessarily improve public safety to incarcerate people who break rules of their supervision but have not been convicted of a new crime. People came out to share their stories—stories like that of Mark Rice’s about being revoked for reasons ultimately related to a mental health condition,… Read More >>

How Public Health Can Show Up (for Police Reform)

November 28, 2016

A mandate of public health is to improve health equity, promote public safety, advance prevention, and strive for social justice. With this in mind, as I process the results of the election and the uncharted, unprecedented future there is a whisper of a question that’s growing louder: what can public health do? We at Human Impact Partners work to carry out this public health mandate by partnering with movements on the front lines of policy change for social justice. Last year, we were privileged to partner with two knowledgeable and committed organizations—Ohio Justice & Policy Center and Ohio Organizing Collaborative—to research the health impacts of policing on Black communities and police officers. The lessons I learned from this research project can help answer a piece of the question, at least. Below are four specific ways that public health can show up to work on policing reform:  Collect data. Fill gaps in data nationwide about the mortality and morbidity attributed to police interactions. At the 2016 American Public Health Association meeting, we were honored to share reflections from the project in Ohio as part of a timely and thoughtful session on policing and public health data. Participants shared a collective sigh about the… Read More >>

Heartbroken but determined

November 11, 2016

There’s no way around it: we are heartbroken. The election of misogyny, White supremacy, and LGBTQ hate into the White House in 2016 is a blow to our hearts, our minds, and our souls. We are in deep pain for the many who already live in trepidation of their rights, for our own families, and for ourselves. And yet—we know we must move past grief and into action. We cannot compromise on dignity and humanity for all—regardless of gender, race, immigration status, religion, sexual orientation, involvement with the justice system, or able-ness. In the face of what’s to come, it’s time for all of us to take stock: how does our work need to change to account for the reality before us? What is the role of public health to support and protect people’s lives? And for us at Human Impact Partners, how can we use the power of public health to further social justice? We aren’t yet sure how to proceed but are eager to figure that out with many of you. What we know is that everyone across public health needs to be a part of driving down hate and dehumanization. It must not be allowed to operate… Read More >>

Gratitude for Being Invited into a New Community

October 27, 2016

  In mid-September, I attended A Women’s Gathering on Criminalization and Community Health Inequities. The gathering was different in many ways, but one aspect of it really stood out: We were being invited into a community that most of us knew very little about, a community of women who had been incarcerated at some time in their lives. As Andrea James, founder of Families for Justice as Healing and The National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (The Council) said, “I am a former lawyer, a community activist, the wife of a man who was incarcerated, an active resident of Roxbury, MA, and a mother. I have a lot of professional and personal experience. But I didn’t become a expert until I was incarcerated.” Only now am I beginning to understand this reality. For the past two years, I’ve been researching the health and equity impacts of the criminal justice system and working with advocates to create a new system, one that puts health and wellbeing, instead of punishment, at the forefront. Some of the people I collaborated with had been incarcerated, and I felt as if I had some understanding of how the criminal justice system destroys people… Read More >>

Family Caregiving—A Public Health Crisis

October 25, 2016

This last year was the hardest one of my life. And I’m writing a blog about it because my personal experience is a public health issue. In the midst of taking vacation time off to help my 80-year old mom move into a retirement community, the St. Louis Dispatch released an article about the health impacts of caregiving for elderly parents. The article notes that adult children who are caring for elderly parents have a myriad of poor health outcomes themselves—stress, higher rates of chronic disease, social isolation, and economic harm. I relate. My mom’s move came about 6 months after my father died after a lightning-quick struggle with stage 4 lung cancer. During the last year, I have experienced everything covered in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) report, Families Caring for an Aging America: lack of exercise, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, incredible stress, extreme difficulty navigating our insane medical care system, and lack of support in how to set up my mom’s new life. Tearfulness, depression. My brother, in commenting on the difficulty of the last year, said, “I see now why it is very common that people die within one year after… Read More >>

Research and the Arts: Combining Efforts for Policy Change

September 8, 2016

Several months ago I attended an entertainment event called The Body Political. The show was described by the organizers in the following way: The Body Political is a subversive artistic space created to explore personal stories about our bodies told through performance art. This show is a conversation. A conversation about our assumptions of what the body is and isn’t capable of and why. A conversation about the ways our bodies are controlled, denied, and marginalized through social and political institutions. A conversation about how social control of the body is used to assert authority and maintain existing systems of power. Yet beyond a dialogue, this show is a space of resistance. We honor and listen to the diverse voices of our community, hearing stories of acceptance and self-love. It is within these stories, and the courage of their storytellers, that we resist, we disrupt, and we reclaim. This is place for us. Our Bodies, Our Rules, Our Stories. I was incredibly moved as an audience member at this show. The performances explored topics such as: Black Lives Matter, assumptions about lack of safety ascribed to dark-skinned black men, intersectionality pressures for African American women to please others, body image… Read More >>

How “ban-the-box” policies expose deeper problems with racism in hiring

August 19, 2016

“Ban-the-box” policies are designed to eliminate some of the barriers that people leaving prison face when seeking jobs. These policies disallow employers from asking people about their criminal records during the initial phase of a job application, removing the “box” that an applicant checks to indicate whether they have a criminal conviction on their record. Although policies differ, most allow employers to request information on criminal records after the initial application stage, and are designed to help applicants get through that first round without automatic disqualification. Ban-the-box policies are clearly meant to help formerly incarcerated people get jobs, who face significant barriers to good employment. But they are also meant to address racial inequities, since African Americans and Latinos bear the disproportionate burden of negative impacts of incarceration. However, some recent research indicates that ban the box policies may actually have unintended consequences of worsening outcomes for black applicants. In one study, researchers submitted fictitious online applications for entry-level service jobs in New York City and New Jersey before and after those jurisdictions passed ban-the-box policies. Before the policies passed, some of these fake applicants reported criminal convictions for minor drug or property crimes. Using New Jersey birth records, the… Read More >>

Expanding Access to Preschool Could Improve Health and Equity in Cincinnati, August, 2016

August 9, 2016

One of my favorite things about doing HIAs and other projects at Human Impact Partners is the unexpected “Aha!” moments that occur, when we find something in the research that surprises us. Today, Human Impact Partners and our partners from The AMOS Project are excited to release a report that examines the health and equity impacts of expanded access to preschool for children in Cincinnati. Our study concludes that expanding access to preschool would benefit the health and equity for children, families, and other residents of Cincinnati. That’s actually not an “Aha!” for me. I expected that improved education would have benefits to health and equity. But I didn’t exactly expect all of the connections we found. To me, it makes sense that if children get a better chance at high-quality education earlier on in life, they will do better in school later on. What I didn’t expect was how far those ripple effects would reach. It makes sense that high-quality preschool education could improve reading and math scores in third grade. But interestingly, those impacts don’t always continue over time. By the fourth grade, children who had access to high-quality preschool don’t always show significantly different reading or math… Read More >>