In sixth grade, my mother hired me as a graphic designer. At the time, there was one and only one thing about my graphic design services that she found appealing—I was extremely affordable. I produced all the marketing materials for her new business, and was happy to be paid with Subway sandwiches. Fortunately, my skills improved at the same rate her business grew, and twenty years later I’m still the graphic designer for her now-thriving business. I did re-negotiate my contract though.
When working on her projects or any graphic design projects, I spend most of my time fussing with the details—nudging this line a little one way, stretching this photo a touch that way, and cycling through hundreds of font styles looking for the perfect one. My computer screen is filled with larger-than-life pixels, tweaking, adjusting, and generally focusing on one small piece of the whole image. Then I zoom back out to make sure I’m still on track. That’s how you get the final product to look just right.
In our work at CCMU, we are committed to bringing the same kind of focus to our work—connecting the individual health and health care experiences of Coloradans, to the collective experiences of our communities—both urban and rural, to the big picture of Colorado’s statewide health care system. We see how local stories can inform high-level policy conversations, and how changes at the Capitol can directly affect Coloradans living at the state’s borders. Our staff spends countless hours traveling the state for an up-close look at how the health care system is working in our smallest towns, and we spend many additional hours helping our leaders and policymakers understand the issues and think about what’s right for Colorado as a whole.
Last week we launched Health is Local, which continues in the same tradition, sharing stories from individuals and communities about their health reform experiences to collectively illustrate the statewide impact. We know every community is different—its opinions, its resources, its social structure—and that influences how local, state, and national reforms will affect its residents and their health care system. Capturing those different experiences helps us to see the bigger picture more accurately, and gives us direction as we measure progress and make course corrections in health reform implementation.
Over the next year, we’ll be following four communities, chosen as a sample of the diversity of urban, western slope, mountain resort, and eastern plans areas of the state: the city of Colorado Springs, and the counties of Montrose, Summit, and Yuma. We’ll be sharing interviews with health care leaders and everyday residents, photos of the beautiful landscapes and friendly people, data, news stories, videos, and more.
We hope this work is interesting, useful, and an accurate reflection of the story of health reform in Colorado. We also hope it inspires you to take a zoomed-in look around your own community for the local effects of reform and how they relate to and inform the big picture. Lastly, we hope you’ll follow along as the story unfolds, at HealthIsLocal.org!