Makers for
the solidarity economy





Ecosystem Development 

Case Study

First Mile Health 

Partner: Building H
Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Brief: Craft a compelling framing narrative for systems change in health
Scope: 4-month project with 8 collaborative workshops and 1 design sprint  

Illustration by Kavya Singh Barthwal

Narrative Strategy

Excerpt from “Every Business Has a Part to Play in Building Better Health”:

Business and community health can form a virtuous flywheel. Businesses thrive when their employees lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives. Communities thrive when the businesses that serve them support their health holistically. However, despite considerable investments in the healthcare system, the cycle has sputtered and stalled: every year, $2.6 trillion of productivity is lost to chronic disease. Businesses could play a broader role in addressing these inefficiencies and inequities, but investments in health have largely been limited to the traditional healthcare system and ignored where people live, work, learn, and play—in the space we call The First Mile of Health. By “First Mile Health” we mean making a deliberate effort to design for the patterns of everyday life that keep people well—emotionally, physically, financially, and socially. First Mile Health means creating and investing in businesses that provide compounding health benefits like intergenerational housing, food cooperatives, insurance to combat loneliness, and digital technologies that enhance trust and social cohesion.

What do we mean by the first mile? First Mile Health looks at people living their full life—not just their diet, exercise, insurance—not just things in isolation.

First Mile Health is an “and” to all the work being done today. It’s shifting the mentality from fixing to designing. And we can only do that by seeing one another fully.

Community Building

Nature and Health: Florence Williams
Food and Health: Christopher Gardner
Movement and Health: Jim Sallis
Culture and Health: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee
Zen and Health: Ryushin Paul Haller
Health, Wealth, and Cooperatives: Jen Horonjeff
Food, Health Equity and Inclusive Innovation: Nancy Roman
Diversity, Health, and the Power of Literature: Abraham Verghese
Health, Leadership, and Systems Change: Marshall Ganz

Art Direction  

Illustration by Loren Flaherty-Blackman, George Joseph, Kavya Singh, Anna Zylicz, Mark Dingo Francisco, Jacob Waites