There are specific things that make cities great places to live and grow - join us as we make real change to advance the health of the IE!


The Inland Insight

A Vision for Tomorrow

Hello friends,

This month we are well underway with plans for this year’s National Innovative Communities Conference. I sincerely hope you’ll join us because this is a venue where critical conversations occur and real change is inspired. 


This year, I’m excited about the two keynote speakers joining us to launch each of our two days of topics. We’ll hear from Dr. Victor Rios, an award-winning college professor, author, and speaker, Victor works with educators and organizational leaders on equity, anti-racism, cultural responsiveness, resilience, closing the opportunity gap, teacher well-being, and restorative justice. His research, publications, teaching, and lived experience have given so many of us a better understanding of the inequities present in our communities, and we can't wait to hear him speak about making real change.


We are also excited to welcome Dr. Yusef Salaam, who was among a group of five young men wrongfully tried and convicted in the "Central Park Jogger" case in 1989, now referred to as "The Exonerated Five." Yusef has since built a platform from which he shares his story and discusses the impact of mass incarceration and police brutality rooted in our justice system. He focuses on criminal justice reform, prison reform and the abolition of juvenile solitary confinement and capital punishment, based on his own experiences inside that system.


Both of these men have personal insight on the critical importance of equity and inclusivity within our communities. With the other acclaimed speakers joining us, I am confident this conference will ignite conversations and collaborations that will create real change in the Inland Empire. 




Inspiration and Ideas

The Future of the Inland Empire

 10 minute read

What Do Healthy Cities Have in Common? 

A recent scoping study published in the Journal of Urban Health was titled “How to Achieve a Healthy City.” The piece considered the 11 characteristics of healthy cities suggested by the World Health Organization in 1986 when it created the Healthy Cities Program, and the authors reviewed ten cities that illustrate each characteristic. 


The key takeaway is that while each of the characteristics is critical on its own, none of them actually stand alone, and are instead affected by the complexity that characterizes urban development, economic planning, and government in our communities. 


The piece chose one city to exemplify each of the 11 characteristics (minus the last, which was noted to be the cumulative effect of having achieved the previous ten). Taken together, the piece provides interesting insight on the various aspects of city collaboration and highlights how critical widespread interaction and cooperation really are. 


Some key examples from this piece include: 


  • Characteristic 1: A clean, safe, high quality physical environment (including housing quality): Freiburg, Germany. The authors point to two planned neighborhoods offering a variety of housing options and flexibility in terms of floor plans and use cases. Public amenities were designed to accommodate evolving requirements for housing and community needs, and the neighborhoods included housing, shopping, and recreation as well as easy access to paths and trails for commuting. The neighborhoods employed more than 600 residents, and also offer easy access to transportation to greater Freiburg. 


  • Characteristic 3: A strong, mutually supportive and non-exploitative community: In Singapore, the public housing authority constructed over one million high-rise housing units, providing housing for approximately 90% of the population. A social mix in housing estates is planned, particularly among the three major ethnic groups, acting to randomly distribute these groups and ensure an ethnic mix in every housing block and communication and cooperation in places like the community gardens. 


  • Characteristic 10: An optimum level of appropriate public health and sick care services accessible to all: In Washington DC, a “shortage designation” is applied to prioritize allocation of federal and local resources to areas or groups found to have a shortage of providers or facing economic, cultural, or linguistic barriers to receiving healthcare. 


 10 minute read

Learning by Example:  Copenhagen as a Case Study

Copenhagen, Denmark was one of the first 12 cities to join the WHO’s Healthy Cities Initiative after it was born in 1986. An article from The Guardian holds up the Danish city as one we might consider as we work together to build healthy communities in our own cities in the Inland Empire. 


Though it will sound shocking to anyone living in most US cities, a surprising 62% of people living in Copenhagen ride bicycles to work, no matter the weather. This is not because they want to be healthier, according to the public health official quoted, but because it’s the easiest way to get around. The city streets were built for bikes, not cars. 


Another lesson Copenhagen may offer other Western cities is a reduced workweek (37 hours) and subsidized child care for most working mothers, as well as government subsidized health care. Of course, this is possible because Denmark, like other Scandinavian countries, is a place where citizens may pay up to 60% of their income in tax. But those taxes, it seems, are successfully converted into health and happiness for many (Denmark is consistently ranked one of the happiest places to live.) 


Copenhagen and the IE have some things in common: 


  • Mental health struggles – While healthcare in Denmark is free, mental health is partially paid for by citizens, which means many do not access it as they should. The city has launched “stress clinics” to help combat the issue, and for those who have participated in the free nine-week clinics, symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress have dropped by 30%. 


  • Housing prices on the rise – As more people choose to retire in the city, the elderly population is growing and the demand for multi-generational housing is also growing, leading to escalating housing costs. 


  • Geographic and economic disparity – Though much of Copenhagen benefits from current policies, like any city, there are areas less supported by healthy initiatives, where citizens smoke and drink more than in other places, and have less access to healthcare and education. “Those most in need,” the mayor interviewed in the piece notes, “are the hardest to reach.” 

The Question Every Policy Maker Should Be Asking...

Can a Conference Create Actionable Change?


Diving Deeper: What is the National Innovative Communities Conference Really About? 

The NICC is a labor of love hosted and attended by those committed to seeing California’s Inland Empire develop into a landmark community, a place people where plan to visit and yearn to reside. It is a hallmark conference that dives deep into the complex interrelated underpinnings of what creates a community, and what challenges that same region. The goal? Not to rehash problems, but to uncover root causes of the issues communities face and highlight practical, tactical, achievable ways to address them. 


This year’s theme is “Real Change Starts Here.” It’s a promise to sponsors and attendees that you will come away from our two days together with more than lofty ideas and examples. You will leave with the connections, information, and confidence to get to work on tackling the issues the Inland Empire faces. 

What kinds of things will we cover? 


  • Making Personal Change. Omar Gonzalez-Valentino, MS, LMFT, LPCC from Telecare Corporation will discuss strategies for managing stress and making impactful personal changes. He’ll teach attendees about resilience, quality decision making, and how to sacrifice to achieve personal goals. 


  • Equity through Shared Understanding: Addressing Poverty Together. Lisa Michelle Zega of the Parkiew Legacy Foundation will offer a cohesive approach to tackle poverty, foster collaboration, promote equity, and nurture individuals and the community as a whole. 


  • Overcoming the Stigma Surrounding Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Alexis Claiborne, Community Education and Outreach Supervisor of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties will share an overview of STI stigma, discuss common facts and myths surrounding STIs, and provide tangible ways that youth-serving professionals can support young people in reducing stigma and accessing services.


  • Helping Opportunity Youth Go from Victim to Survivor. Christian Pirir, Program Manager of Hawkeye Properties Workforce will discuss how to effectively support opportunity youth–young people between 16 and 24 years old who are disconnected from school and work. He will discuss how to build trusting relationships that value youth for who they are, helping them build receptivity to coaching and mentorship. 


  • Combating Hate: Reporting, Recognizing, and Empowering Immigrants. Christopher Vazquez, Regional Field Coordinator of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) will discuss the impact and frequency of immigrant hate crimes, exploring why they are underreported and helping to empower communities to recognize and report these incidents. 


The conference provides a unique, nonpartisan environment for leaders of diverse backgrounds to pool resources and knowledge in order to conceive solutions to the most pressing issues impacting the regions we all serve.


Tue, Jun 11, 2024 7:30 AM - Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4:00 PM

Riverside Convention Center, 3637 5th St, Riverside, CA 92501

Coming soon...

The Inland Healthy Cities Institute (IHCI) is gearing up to advance the health transformation of our unique region: the Inland Empire. With more than 4.5 million residents, we face unique challenges unlike any other region in Southern California, and the IHCI is focused on addressing them-with the help of collaborative partnerships and by involving and energizing the residents of our community. 


Around the world, healthy cities initiatives have been shown to increase the quality of life for residents, turning locations into landmark communities that attract new families, and draw economic opportunity. In many ways, healthy city initiatives like ours work to highlight and focus efforts that are already underway, increasing utilization of beneficial programs already in place. Healthy city initiatives have been shown to address underlying barriers to health, and create lasting change.


The Inland Healthy Cities Institute will focus on: 


  • Gardens & Markets:  By creating green spaces and cleaning up existing ones; holding and growing farmers markets, and building or resourcing community gardens. 


  • Health & Wellbeing: By supporting health education accessible to all and offering community fitness classes and cooking workshops.


  • Arts & Recreation: By Initiating city beautification projects including community and school murals, and holding cultural performances, author visits, and lectures. 


  • Safety & Readiness: By offering trainings in substance misuse prevention and mental health, and providing easy to access medication drop boxes.


  • Community Prosperity: By holding small business summits and offering financial literacy training and career-building workshops. 


  • Leadership Training:  By forming a cohort-based Leadership Academy to allow community champions to join and learn to help mobilize change in their community.

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