Policy Bits ~ 3 Things to Know & Watch This WeekPolicy Bits May 30, 2016
May 30-June 5, 2016
~ Karly Malpiede Andrus


Biophilic Urban Acupuncture: The Importance of Biophilia in Urban Places

  • Our access to wild places and “nature” is shrinking and so is our will to get to those places. In 1977 80% of Americans took a weeklong vacation, in 2014 less than 60% did. As this trend of getting out into nature less continues we need to actively design our cities to bring nature in. Biophilia is humankind’s innate biological connection with nature, Urban Acupuncture is a socio-environmental theory that combines contemporary urban design with traditional Chinese acupuncture, using small scale interventions to transform the larger urban context – the goal is to relieve stress in the built environment. Biophilic Urban Acupuncture (BUA) is a theory that threads and nodes of biophilic interventions in specific urban places can help improve people’s moods, connect people to place and help improve mental health. http://goo.gl/QKmszC
  • As our cities expand and densify simultaneously, there is a need to design places to connect people to nature. If we are not careful, our commute and daily experience within the city will be nothing more than glass, steel and concrete. This post shows biophilic interventions are impactful and feasible for the average person.


Do Local Governments Have a Role to Play in Mental Health?

  • In April the World Bank and World Health Organization assembled hundreds of doctors, aid groups and government organizations in an effort to move mental health to the forefront of the global agenda. One in four will be affected by mental health illness in their lifetime and it is clear that in this arena we are all developing countries. NYC has pioneered a wide ranging campaign aimed at all aspects of mental health from reducing the stigma associated to providing mental health first aid training for school administrators. Their goal is to have local government enabled to address mental health as a public, pervasive concern and to identify and address contributing factors. For instance the lack of affordable housing for those affected by mental illness has reached a crisis level; the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless collaboration on a network of supported living apartments was cited as an example of a solution. http://goo.gl/6Ow7v7
  • This effort shows we must think broadly to build coalitions to solve these larger issues.


The Children’s Wellbeing Initiative: Strong Sense of Self, Belonging and Purpose

  • Even at a young age, children understand the multiple facets of wellbeing: safety and physical fitness, but also emotional attachment. But in the United States, we’re preoccupied with a very limited definition of wellbeing – material or physical wellness. Ashoka seeks to expand the concept of wellbeing for kids to equipping kids with the tools, environments, and relationships to cope, hope, and thrive. In kid terms this means: Do I feel safe and loved? Do I feel a sense of dignity, a sense of purpose? Once their own wellbeing is secured, kids can work to secure that for others and become powerful agents of change in their communities. Ashoka’s work dovetails with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s work to build a national Culture of Health. They are conducting a national search for Champions enacting programs tackling these types of wellbeing, submission are due June 22. http://goo.gl/UzrMts
  • This effort shows how thinking outside the box and taking mental health into consideration can reach outcomes desired in other arenas.