Twenty Years of Life
In the book, Twenty Years of Life , author Suzanne Bohan explores the disturbing flip side of the “American dream”: your health is largely determined by your zip code. The strain of living in a neighborhood with sub-par schools, lack of parks, fear of violence, few to no healthy food options, and the stress of unpaid bills is literally taking years off people’s lives. The difference in life expectancy between wealthy and distressed neighborhoods can be as much as twenty years.
In response to this inequity, The California Endowment, one of the nation’s largest health foundations is upending the old-school, top-down charity model and investing $1 billion over ten years to help communities advocate for their own interests. This new approach to community change draws on the latent political power of residents and is driving reform both locally and in the state’s legislative chambers. If it can work in fourteen of California’s most challenging and diverse communities, it has the potential to work anywhere in the country.
The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solution program hosted a discussion of how these communities are creating change and tackling health disparities. There are lessons for all stakeholders from policymakers, philanthropy, and community leaders to learn how investing in the power of communities can create smart solutions and positive change.
Suzanne Bohan, Author Twenty Years of Life
Anthony Iton, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities, The California Endowment
Sandra Celedon, Manager, the Fresno Building Healthy Communities Hub.
Sam Vaughn, Program Manager, Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety and the Peacemaker Fellowship