This issue is a comprehensive review of the U.S. Healthy Communities Initiative, the National Civic League's nationwide effort to foster ways of improving the health of communities. In the last decade, dozens of communities have participated in meaningful efforts that moved beyond conversation about sick care, to tackle topics like systems change and community building.
Contributors Leonard Duhl, Trevor Hancock, and Joan Twiss discuss the lessons learned in these ten years of the U.S. Healthy Communities Initiative and the possibilities for its future. Writer and consultant Joe Flower offers an in-depth look at skills and perspectives that community leaders need if they want to make lasting changes. Christopher Adams explores how the healthy-communities movement in California has tacked the issue of smoking and public health. A literature review on the experiences of citizen participation in health planning efforts over the last thirty years reveals themes comparable to the NCL's Civic Index for measuring a community's civic infrastructure.
Also in this issue, Allan Wallis, professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, Graduate School of Public Affairs, looks at social capital through the perspective of board and staff members of community-based organizations who do the direct work of community building. Kevin Mattson recounts a little-known episode in the history of the progressive reform movement: the "social centers" movement, which used school buildings as centers for citizen discussion on important community and political issues.