“I believe that the community – in the fullest sense: a place and all its creatures – is the smallest unit of health.” -Wendell Berry, “Health is Membership”

To learn more about the 2019 Civic Institute and other sessions you may choose to attend, visit this link.

Building a Durable Life: The Impact of Social Infrastructure on Alabama’s Public Health

Often regulated to the realm of professionals, health may be one of the most ubiquitous, yet compartmentalized concerns of daily life. And like any other issue of both public and deeply personal concern, expert terms are only a part of its definition. Considering people’s lived experiences, and the spaces, networks, and cultural contexts in which they occur, is vital to understanding the importance of social infrastructure in public health. Questions we’ll explore include:

What is the role of civic engagement in the physical, mental, and spiritual health of our Alabama communities? What do we find at the intersection of social infrastructure and the healthcare system? How can we best care for our personal wellness and the wellness of our neighbors?

This session will view health not just as a result of research and medicine, but also as a product of dynamics hidden in plain sight. For example, the rise of people living alone is one of the most significant but least examined demographic changes in modern history. (Eric Klinenberg, Palaces for the People) Other research compares the impact of loneliness on mortality to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and indicates that most Americans are considered lonely.

The queries of how to be healthy, not just treat sickness; how to put policy into practice, or otherwise close gaps where ideals do not meet realities; and how to address different, often segregated concepts of wellbeing all require the perspectives of individuals, but in the context of their community’s unique assets and challenges. A public that is engaged in the health of its communities strengthens existing expertise with new perspectives. Members of such a public will necessarily include others in their focus, in addition to looking inward.

In this session, learn from organizations across Alabama who work to answer these questions and make healthy living possible within their community. These panelists support the existing healthcare systems by assessing community needs and bringing wellness resources to the people they serve. They are innovative and intentional, recognizing the gaps of healthcare in their community and responding with solutions.


Speaker details are forthcoming. View FAQs and save your seat today here! If you have additional questions, contact the event organizer, Kate Zeliff, at kmauldin@mathewscenter.org. We hope to see you on August 16th!