The Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA -> “oh hey”!) and Multnomah County Health Department are proud to share Community Powered Change, a campaign to ensure equity is part of every decision made in setting policies and processes affecting the health of people living in Multnomah County.
Health equity is about...
...making sure all of our communities have everything we need to be our best selves.
...recognizing and acknowledging that health is rooted at the intersection of the many ways in which we identify and in the many systems that affect our health every day.
...looking beyond our doctors’ offices and hospitals when some don’t have the language to move easily in these confusing places; beyond access to health insurance when access depends on having a job and documentation status; beyond exercise and diet when some live in unsafe neighborhoods without full service grocery stores.
...always asking why, always searching for the root cause of the problem, not the symptom. It is trusting that the people who experience the worst health and are the most affected by bad policies know what they need and believing those same people have the expertise to create a healthy community.
Our vision for health equity is the work of Community Powered Change: to ensure the voices of those most affected are amplified, driving the change we need to see, and integrated into every step of planning and designing policies and programs within the many systems that affect our health, such as housing and education, for example. It is about challenging and placing responsibility and accountability on our institutions and systems, not on individuals.
How did this get started? In 2015, a group of partners from the Oregon Health Equity Alliance received the honor and challenge of developing a plan to improve community health for the Multnomah County Health Department, a plan centered on the experiences and health of communities of color.
Why communities of color? Quite frankly there have been many long standing inconsistencies in the health of communities historically underserved in Multnomah County, particularly communities of color. When the Multnomah County Health Department formed its public health department for the first time in 2014, it became clear they could not continue to approach health in the same ways. The Public Health Division turned to its community organizations and ultimately selected OHEA to lead this effort
Why OHEA? This coalition is governed by organizations representing communities of color. We are reminded by our communities of the privilege carried by such organizational leadership that don’t always mirror the experiences of our communities. But we also recognize their rich history of grassroots organizing and how this informs, and often directs, OHEA’s policy advocacy work. As a coalition, health equity is OHEA’s priority and drives every aspect of our work.
It’s exciting, but it’s not easy! Since beginning this effort, we have engaged with nearly 350 community members and organizational partners to establish the priorities of this campaign, as well as develop a plan for implementing community-recommended strategies for health improvement. Please explore the new website to learn more about the work we are doing and find out how you can be part of this incredible work!
So welcome to Community Powered Change, our work and our website! This is the story of how we came to exist and how we plan to be around for a long time. You can expect to see a post here at least once a month. This month will also see the release of our first newsletter. Sign up for our newsletter for more updates in between blog posts. We hope you’ll join us in the movement for building a safer, healthier Multnomah County!