An ever-increasing body of research confirms the direct connection between a healthy environment and healthy residents. Our health and nature work is committed to building bridges between the conservation, health care and recreation communities, co-leveraging assets for community projects, and jointly broadcasting this positive message.
Two Intertwine Projects advancing the health and nature initiative are Greening of Schoolyards and RxPlay. The Intertwine Alliance also holds Health & Nature Forums twice a year.
Outcome: Residents are healthy, fit and have a high level of well-being.
The mission of the Health and Nature Initiative is to encourage a range of sectors and organizations to work together to build a common agenda and measurable projects that will lead directly to healthier, safer and more vibrant communities. This effort will explore the now more comprehensively researched nexus between nature and human health in the metropolitan region. By developing an inclusive, collaborative and action-oriented approach, we will promote and ultimately realize the mutual benefits of health and nature within the region.
Goals and objectives
- Use the Collective Impact framework to address community-wide health challenges and opportunities while helping to eradicate health disparities
- Build stronger, more fluent working relationships between health, environmental and other community groups
- Attract a diverse range of new and established stakeholders and advocates to advance and create greater awareness of social determinants of health, as well as for the value of nature in our urban and suburban worlds
- Develop a common language, shared objectives, projects and metrics
- Facilitate alignment among key organizations and their programs in achieving shared objectives
- Build upon research, programming and capacity that already exists
- Develop an accessible, highly visible platform to support future research and dissemination of information
- Attract new funding to support the efforts developed out of this initiative.
Why The Intertwine Alliance?
The Intertwine Alliance is a way of doing business. We strive to be a neutral, inclusive entity that is the fulcrum for a range of community efforts that support the creation of a healthier, four-county region. We are guided by the principle that 1) nature plays an important role in a thriving metropolitan region that is equally urban, suburban and rural; and 2) that continued investments in nature and nature-based programs and actions will create a healthier community, an improved economy and strengthen a unique sense of place that defines us as Oregonians/Southwest Washingtonians. We do this by seeking new regionwide investments in those assets and engaging the public and elected officials to:
- promote residents’ health, fitness and personal well-being
- connect the region’s communities with trails and greenways
- enhance the region’s air and water quality
- preserve significant natural areas for wildlife habitat and public use
- support an ecologically sustainable metropolitan area
- drive the region’s economy and tourist trade
As a single but very influential species in the complex web of systems that is our living planet, human beings have a connection to and reliance on nature that is both timeless and intrinsic to our existence. Over time, we have built barriers to nature and diminished its place in our daily lives. Due to this disconnect important, long-understood benefits that this relationship has historically afforded us – ones that make us healthy and whole – are slowly disappearing.
A time of opportunity
The Intertwine Alliance understands and strongly promotes the impact that connecting to nature has on us physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. We have arrived at a moment in time that is ripe for mending this lost connection:
- New research confirms that exposure to nature leads to positive health outcomes for individuals and the broader community.
- A major transformation within our healthcare delivery systems is prompting providers to explore new upstream-oriented approaches to address the health of our communities.
- A renewed focus on health disparities is leading to a greater understanding of the role we collectively play in the active and equitable management of social determinants of health.
- The Alliance’s growing capacity and relationships are increasing our ability to collaborate across sectors and interest groups to implement new efforts that have the potential to help our communities flourish.
Leveraging those opportunities
The Health and Nature Initiative is about changing the narrative – shifting viewpoints, behaviors and paradigms to get increased engagement and support to more strategically develop a range of positive, upstream health interventions. This Initiative:
- works to impact the current state of health disparities throughout our region;
- brings the diverse voices of current and new partners together to find synergy and build a shared agenda;
- develops a stronger connection between the environmental, health and social justice communities by promoting the exchange of ideas and the creation of collaborative efforts;
- raises awareness of the benefits and opportunities available if individuals can access and take advantage of nature in their neighborhoods; and
- takes actions to improve our urban/suburban/rural landscape and expand programs that foster positive health, safety and an active lifestyle.
Our expected outcomes include:
- the development of cross-jurisdictional, highly collaborative strategies, projects and programs that makes our communities healthier and safer, all with clearly defined measures of success;
- focused communication to the business community, elected officials and the general public to build support that leads to action;
- more visible and impactful research that promotes these proven benefits so they become widely understood and accepted; and
- greater access to nature and nature-based activities for all members of our community.
A role for everyone
A coalition of organizations, agencies and for-profit businesses, the Intertwine Alliance advances its work by strategically engaging and leveraging the leadership and capacity of its partners. As this initiative unfolds, there will be many ways to connect with this work. You will be able to:
- attend forums and add your voice to the dialogue that shapes our regional agenda;
- help us develop, organize and synthesize the research;
- access research, tools and resources that will assist your organization in building the case for relevancy regarding your impact on the community;
- connect your organization’s work to a larger community-wide movement; and
- connect with the deeper “why” behind your involvement with this work.
Relevant issues built around a shared language
The Alliance recognizes that there are no universally agreed upon definitions for the words “health” and “nature.” They are complex concepts influenced by culture, family and life experience, among many other factors. These definitions are provided to promote discussion, understanding, and ways of connecting.
- The Intertwine Alliance defines health as an optimal state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. It is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a state that creates opportunities for individuals to flourish.
- We define nature as encompassing all members of our plant and animal kingdoms; the land which surrounds us; water – our oceans, rivers and lakes; the sky and its many transformations; and all the elements and processes that are part of the complex community of life on earth. Nature can be near or far, microscopic or monumental, managed or wild.
Healthy people, communities and cultures are resilient and adaptable, and experience a high quality of life. Nature inspires, nourishes and nurtures us – and in return we respect and care for nature. We work to understand how we can best stay in balance with it to assure its vitality for future generations. The Alliance sees, celebrates, promotes and champions the interdependence and mutual impact these two have on one another and the potential for humans to maximize the positive outcomes when this connection is fostered.