This past year has brought to the forefront important social issues that have required all of us, as individuals and as members of organizations, to reexamine our society and systems under the lens of equity and justice. Live Well San Diego Partners have been actively engaging the community and listening to their concerns in order to develop new approaches to reform. In response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, partners that were able to pivot, adapt and innovate are now settling in to new ways of doing business and maintaining these impactful changes for the long term. Partners have continued to step up to each challenge to lead and serve, united under the Live Well San Diego vision to create a region that is Healthy, Safe, and Thriving…for all.
Framework for our Future
The County of San Diego recently adopted the Framework for Our Future which provides guidance for prioritizing communities and populations which have been historically left behind. The vision will take direction from the Framework to advance racial justice, health equity, economic opportunity, environmental protection, and government transparency and create a region where all residents can achieve optimal well-being within healthy, safe, and thriving communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to attention the critical need for equitable access to healthcare and resources. Each person has different circumstances and opportunities that can affect their ability to make healthy choices. Unequal access to good jobs, healthcare, grocery stores, neighborhoods, and schools can create differences that make it harder for a person to be healthy. Through Live Well San Diego, community partners are working together to remove barriers so that everyone has opportunities for success. Together, we can positively change the conditions in which people live, learn, work, play or pray to promote better health and wellbeing so that equity can be possible for everyone.
Events over the past two years have brought renewed focus on social injustice in our country. To effect change, both individuals and organizations must continue to listen and openly discuss issues of disparities and discrimination to gain a better understanding of how to improve equity and take action. Feedback from the community can be used to help identify opportunities for reform, maintain accountability in practices, and adjust policies and procedures from schools to the workplace. Together, we can transform our region into a place that values fairness, equity, and inclusion, and prioritizes policy and systems change for the betterment of all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the lives of individuals, businesses, and communities across San Diego County. Organizations collaborated to find solutions to new issues that residents were facing and expanded business services in response. Recovery is on the horizon and the lessons learned from the pandemic will benefit all San Diegans moving forward. As businesses cautiously reopen and the economy continues to improve, Partners must continue to create equitable and inclusive access to economic opportunities, job training, recovery assistance, and financial guidance for both individuals and small businesses.
To address homelessness, Partners have come together to provide a range of services from prevention and diversion, shelter, and permanent housing resources, including rental assistance and supportive services. Over the past year, we have seen homeless action plans put into place, increased services and outreach efforts, and the formation of new government departments to focus primarily on housing and homelessness solutions. As we look to the future, the County of San Diego's Framework for Ending Homelessness will align all regional stakeholders to common goals and strategies and provide guidance into the future.
Engagement can take many forms, from individual volunteerism to organizational involvement to the simple act of voting in an election. Partners are working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and are helping to develop leaders by encouraging the development of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to help individuals make that difference. Even in the midst of the pandemic, there were many opportunities for San Diego County residents to be involved, including the U.S. Census count, a Presidential election, and a plethora of virtual events to get people connected and talking. Moving forward, an emphasis should be placed on further understanding, engaging, and activating residents from all ages, backgrounds, and interests to collaborate on finding solutions to the most pressing issues in our communities.
Environmental sustainability efforts are critical to safeguarding our natural resources and ecosystems and securing fair treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes in accessing safe and livable communities. Local governments have increased their efforts to develop sustainable action plans to help reduce and stabilize the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while preparing for the climate-induced changes to come, including sea-level rise, drought, and wildfires. Individuals can contribute to sustainable and equitable environments through simple actions, including reducing energy and water usage, recycling, composting, volunteering at cleanup events, and learning about zero waste and alternative transportation. Organizations can continue to advocate, educate, and inspire community involvement to ensure safe, healthy environments for people of all races, cultures, and incomes.
As we look to the future, our common agenda remains the same – to create a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely, and Thriving. But our world is a different place now and we have learned to change and move forward in new ways. May the challenges and trials of the past year show us that it is ok to try new things, to brave new directions, to embrace new partnerships, and to accept that the old rules may no longer apply.
As the Live Well San Diego movement grows, leaders across the nation will continue to look to the San Diego region as a source for ideas, innovations, and best practices that can be replicated in their communities. Together, we will continue to build a region that is healthy, safe, and thriving…for all.