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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities - Michael Hancox EPISODE 72
Charting the National Healthy Communities Platform
00:00:00 00:24:50

Charting the National Healthy Communities Platform


Incorporating Public Health Considerations in the Local Government Planning Process

In This Episode:

[02:40] Co-host Paul Zykofsky is introduced.

[02:48] Guests Miguel Vazquez and Erik Calloway are introduced.

[03:10] Miguel tells how he came to be working on healthy-communities issues.

[04:13] Erik tells how he came to be working on healthy-communities issues.

[05:02] Erik describes ChangeLab Solutions.

[05:41] Miguel describes the Riverside University Health System.

[09:09] Miguel shares about the National Healthy Communities Platform.

[09:44] Why is there a need for a National Healthy Communities Platform?

[11:13] Erik evaluates the state of the healthy-communities movement.

[12:25] Miguel gives his evaluation of the state of the healthy-communities movement.

[13:42] Miguel identifies what he hopes will come out of the National Healthy Communities Platform.

[15:04] Erik comments on the breakdowns of the social determinants of health.

[15:51] Erik supplies his recommendations of how to get started to address the issues of the social determinants of health.

[18:30] Miguel shares the challenges he thinks will be encountered as the healthy-communities movement is pushed forward.

[20:45] Erik describes what he thinks the challenges will be.


Paul Zykofsky directs the Local Government Commission’s (LGC) programs related to land use and transportation planning, community design, and health and the built environment. In the past 20 years, he has worked with over 300 communities to improve conditions for infill development, walking, bicycling, and transit. Mr. Zykofsky provides technical assistance to communities throughout the nation on issues related to smart growth, infill development, transit-oriented development, street and sidewalk design, health and the built environment, and public participation in the planning process. Mr. Zykofsky is a co-author of Building Livable Communities: A Policymaker’s Guide to Transit Oriented Development and Emergency Response: Traffic Calming and Traditional Neighborhood Streets. In 2006, Mr. Zykofsky co-wrote (with Dan Burden of Walkable Communities) the section on “walkability” in the American Planning Association’s Planning and Urban Design Standards.

Guests & Organizations:

As a senior planner at ChangeLab Solutions, Erik Calloway focuses on the links between the built environment and health. He conducts research, prepares strategies, and develops tools to help communities support healthy living and sustainability. Prior to joining ChangeLab Solutions, Erik worked for 13 years as an urban design consultant. He has led multidisciplinary teams on streetscape and public space design, district and corridor restructuring, city planning, neighborhood development, and downtown revitalization projects.

Learn More About Erik

Miguel Vazquez, currently serves as the Healthy Communities Planner for the Riverside University Health System-Public Health (RUHS-PH) (formerly known as Riverside County Department of Public Health) in California. Our work directly impacts the quality of life of 2.2 million people living in 28 cities and the unincorporated area of Riverside County. For the past five years, my leadership role has focused on the integration of planning and health through policy, programs and outreach.

Learn More About Miguel’s Career Journey as a Planner

Take Away Quotes:

“My journey has been kind of strange in a sense that I’m an urban planner, but urban planners typically don’t work for public-health departments. Now, a conference like the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference has provided an open door for everyone to understand each other, so my boss saw that connection of public health and planning, and at some point he decided to hire a planner. So, somebody said, hey, there’s an opportunity, would you be interested in applying for it; so I went for it, and here I am.”—Miguel

“ChangeLab Solutions is a nonprofit organization. Our mission is healthier communities through law and policy. And so we work…to help communities integrate health into their everyday actions of planning—land-use planning, community outreach, complete streets. So we do model policies, we do technical assistance, and we help communities build their own capacity to transform themselves.”—Erik

“In Riverside County, we’re responsible for the health of 2.3 million people, and the statistics have shown that 63 percent of our deaths are related to mainly three major conditions: they have to do with cancer, respiratory conditions, and diabetes. And they are correlated to three behaviors—behaviors are actually given by the places in which you live, work, play, and learn—and they are how much physical activity you have, access to healthy foods and vegetables and clean water, and smoking.”—Miguel

“I think that a National Healthy Communities Platform can provide some clarity to those various sectors—development sector, planning…health departments—so that the actions that they do, they’re aware of what other sectors play, what role that they play, in supporting their own outcomes so that everybody, when they’re doing their work, can all be aligned and heading in the same direction.”—Erik


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Health in All Policies

ChangeLab Solutions

Help develop the National Healthy Communities Platform

Riverside University Health System-Public Health