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DHPE Fellow Attends Place Matters

Wednesday, October 9, 2013   (0 Comments)
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Place Matters: Exploring the Intersections of Health and Economic Justice

By DHPE Fellow Thometta Cozart Brooks, MS, MPH, CPH

The Place Matters National Health Equity Conference has been convened for the last three years by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. This year's conference was held on October 2nd at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. The conference focused on the connection between economic disparities, such as unemployment and income gaps, and health disparities. A wide range of health advocates representing government, nonprofits, community-based organizations, political think tanks, and funding agencies attended the conference to learn how where one lives, works and plays impacts one's health.

The opening plenary "Root Shock: Displacement, Dislocation, Disinvestment and Health Inequities” featuring Author and Professor Dr. Mindy Fullilove, set the stage by examining how the removal and dismantling of minority and poor communities through eminent domain or other means impacts the physical, emotional and spiritual health of these communities. Dr. Fullilove's book, Root Shock, focuses on the journey of a black community in Pittsburgh, PA. By exploring the communities' history, she discusses the psychological distress and cultural, social and economic losses suffered by not only the misplaced individuals, but also the whole city. It is in her opinion that a city hurts itself by relocating the poor. Planned shrinkage, the destruction and consolidation of poor and minority neighborhoods, increases health disparities and contributes to epidemics. The spread of HIV/AIDS in the Bronx after a poor neighborhood is allowed to burn down is Dr. Fullilove's example of the indirect consequences of displacing and relocating the underserved and poor. As a clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Fullilove's solution to these injustices is to promote how the whole needs all of its varied parts to survive.

For the past 10 years, Dr. Fullilove has engaged communities in Harlem and other New York boroughs to create walking trails that connect parks located throughout these neighborhoods. To guide this work, Dr. Fullilove created the Urban Restoration Alchemy.

Currently, Dr. Fullilove is celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the Hiking Giraffe Path project. This project is a collaboration of community members, local Parks and Recreation, government officials, youth and others based on her "Healthy Human Settlement” theory. She continues to disseminate her efforts through presentations, publications and an upcoming book, all of which will strengthen the field of community-based participatory research and interventions.

Dr. Fullilove believes:

"There is no there, no them; it's only here and us.”

Thometta Cozart Brooks is a DHPE Fellow at the Ohio Commission on Minority Health in Columbus, Ohio. To learn more about the Place Matters Conference, visit

Karen Thompkins, Thometta Brooks, Steve Owens

DHPE Fellows Spencer Willis, Tiffany Cox and Thometta Brooks

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