About a year ago, a group of Fort Collins health and social service providers came together to discuss the potential of a large 20+ acre piece of land in northwest Fort Collins, purchased by Salud Family Health Centers. After much collaboration and receipt of a large grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, this group—called ‘The Collaborative’—set out to engage the northwest Fort Collins community in developing a collective vision for this space in their neighborhood.
A critical goal for The Collaborative was to learn the core issues affecting the community’s health and wellbeing. We created open platforms for community members to share their stories and have discussions with their neighbors through a number of information sessions, focus groups, and design workshops. These outreach sessions proved to be incredible environments for neighbors from all walks of life to speak face-to-face for the first time. Through these forums, we learned about struggles and rejoicings, disappointments and positive experiences. However, at each forum, community members shared incredible hope and excitement for the potential of the space in their neighborhood.
So, what does the northwest community in Fort Collins want most for its neighborhood? The overwhelming answer is a place for the community to gather that is inclusive, supports health and wellbeing, and celebrates culture and diversity. This future place must be built on a foundation of Respect, Dignity, and Belonging for All People.
This inspiring and complex vision touches health on a full spectrum from emergency care to health regeneration. Yet, the single most important quality of life factor that the community aspires to achieve through this vision is health equity. Health equity would mean every person has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. The community’s desire for health equity signifies a current lack of equity that stems from various social determinants of health: the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. Because the northwest Fort Collins community is so diverse, the community has shared varying degrees of needs linked to these social determinants. The Collaborative understands well that health and wellbeing are impacted by multiple social determinants, and it now knows the community’s priorities. To develop solutions to these complex problems in our community, The Collaborative has committed to working across sectors and with partners to bring the northwest Fort Collins community’s vision to life.
The next big question is: How do we create this community gathering place in northwest Fort Collins? We need your help to answer this question. The Collaborative will be hosting an open community event at Fullana Learning Center’s gym (220 N Grant Ave) on Tuesday, January 23rd from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. At this meeting, we will share our process and present the findings from our community outreach events. We invite all Fort Collins neighbors to join us so we can share ideas and begin planning the future for this inspiring health hub.