The National Innovative Communities Conference Changes Lives and Communities

What if your community was more than just the place you live? What if it was an active, thriving part of your life, your landscape? What if the community itself inspired your family and neighbors to engage, to live actively, and to collaborate? 

Is it possible for a city to be an active force for betterment in the lives of those who live there? 

If you live in Jurupa Valley, you likely already know the answer. 

In this post, we’ll examine: 

  1. What does it mean to be a healthy city? 
  2. How the NICC conference played a direct role in creating Healthy Jurupa Valley
  3. The upcoming NICC conference in Riverside

What is a Healthy City?

Most people think of cities as non-active entities. We live in them. We work in them. They describe us in some ways, but other than being “from” a place, we don’t always think much about them. 

Reach Out would like to change that. And we have succeeded. Jurupa Valley is a fantastic example of the excellent community initiatives that can be inspired when leaders and community members come together to explore ideas. 

In 2011, the city founders of Jurupa Valley attended our conference and left brimming with ideas to create a city that wasn’t just a place people were “from.” They wanted to integrate community and art, emotional and physical well-being, along with a unifying sense of pride in ownership. And from that inspiration, the first Healthy City in the Inland Empire was born.  

Healthy Jurupa Valley: The Formation of a Healthy City

The overall structure of HJV relies on three distinct, yet interconnected sectors: the City of Jurupa Valley, Reach Out, and Community Leaders and Stakeholders. 

  • The City provides support from the City Council, City Manager and city staff to ensure health is embedded in the deepest layers of the city, and that healthy ideas are heard and acted upon, instead of getting tangled up in red tape. 
  • Reach Out provides the backbone structure for strong fiscal management, fund development, staffing for meetings and events, community and agency connections from work throughout the Inland Empire, and the knowledge and expertise about healthy communities and cross-sectoral collaboration best practices. 

The City of Jurupa Valley and Reach Out form the foundation of Healthy Jurupa Valley. 

  • Community leaders and stakeholders are like the construction crew building on top of the foundation: these are the people with the optimism, heart, and energy that make HJV’s resident-driven visions a reality. 
  • Jurupa Valley is dedicated to the vision of a healthy, thriving city that serves as an inspiration and example for what the power of connectedness can create.

Results of a Successful Healthy City Initiative Are Broad

Every year, Reach Out helps assess the success of the specific initiatives that the five action groups within Healthy Jurupa Valley have set forward as goals for that year. And with few exceptions, goals are met every year. 

Though many normal events and projects were postponed, canceled, or hosted online due to Covid-19, Healthy Jurupa Valley continued to make meaningful engagement with the community a priority, even in 2020. We estimate that HJV efforts reached 13,406 residents throughout the year. Consider the following stats that difficult year:

  • Direct Engagement with Collaborative and Action Team meetings: 450
  • Direct Community Outreach and Engagement through events and drive-thrus: 10,956
  • Indirect Education and Engagement via Social Media and e-Newsletters: 1,500
  • Program Engagement: 500
  • Partners Engaged: 115
  • Residents Served: 13,406
  • Volunteer Hours Served: 945

The results of a dedicated effort toward a healthy community go beyond statistics, however. 

They are visible in the murals painted in local parks, the beautification efforts made at schools, and the little free libraries dotted around town. They can be seen in the small business support offered at regular lunch and learn meetings, and in the vaccine equity efforts made to ensure education and vaccines were offered to all community members. They can also be felt in the ongoing substance abuse awareness efforts and partnerships between community organizations and law enforcement. 

This Year’s Innovative Communities Conference

Healthy Jurupa Valley is a great example of action stemming directly from the discussions engendered at the National Innovative Communities Conference, and we can’t wait to see what kinds of measurable outcomes are inspired by this year’s conference, which happened June 13 & 14th at the Riverside Convention Center. 

The agenda included a variety of topics, but will feature keynote speaker Laura Coates, CNN host and Senior Legal Analyst. Attendees also heard from dynamic speakers at informative plenary sessions, including Dr. Somava Stout, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Dr. Cid Pinedo, Chief Executive Officer of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation; Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari; Medical Officer Dr. Geoffrey from Riverside University Health System; Dr. Evita Limon Rocha and more.

Session Topics included: 

  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Mental Health
  • Health Workforce
  • Family Wellness
  • Violence Prevention/Intervention
  • Restorative Justice & Youth Court
  • DEI and Racial Equity
  • Law Enforcement
  • Nonprofit/Community-based Organizations