1. Start with what matters to people: wellbeing
People need to be connected to others and to be helpful. We all need to feel we belong and are safe. We need to experience some predictability to life, that we have some influence over what’s happening around us, and to experience purpose and growth. We need to meet our needs for food, shelter and other basics without shame or danger in ways that are relevant to our situations. We need to know that small steps forward aren’t going to cause everything to come crashing down or cost us what was working in other parts of our life. We need to be able to hold onto, and build on, what matters to us. In combination and balance, these needs and experiences comprise our wellbeing.
COVID-19 brought home how universal our drive for wellbeing is. COVID-19 and the nation’s attention to police violence have also brought widespread attention to the ways that our systems and communities are structured to provide access to wellbeing for some, and undermine access for others, based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, identity, religion, national origin and more. The result is that the same actions — whether applying for a job, feeding a family, seeking healthcare or going to school — by two individuals of, for example, different races, have vastly different outcomes. Sometimes these play out quickly, sometimes over a lifetime. But the differences between systems that enable some, and that hold others back, is real. And because wellbeing is the needs and experiences essential in combination and balance to weather challenges and have health and hope, these are effectively structural limitations on resiliency and health.
So, while COVID-19 has threatened every aspect of millions of people’s wellbeing, access to wellbeing was already starkly attenuated in communities of color and for those facing poverty and adversity; the pandemic is adding to the chronic crises.
We must structure our communities and systems to align with, tap into and amplify the human drive for wellbeing. Making access to wellbeing more equitable is vital to preventing many of the harms our systems are set up to address.
Crowdsourcing What's Possible:
The principles and recommendations in this Blueprint are already being acted on by systems, organizations, communities and people across the nation. Do you have an example to share with us? Please share it!
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