Reaching for Regeneration: Discovering the Power of Place

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Colin Day
Projects Manager


Amid increasing homogenization of American communities, there is a growing interest in identifying and cultivating the unique traits inherent to individual places. Imagine for a moment three different towns that you are familiar with and that are geographically proximate. Each one has its own particular character, culture, and mindset – but why is that? What drives a place to be one way, and not another, in spite of many seemingly similar elements? If we could truly understand the driving forces, patterns, and relationships that make a place what it is, how might that inform our business approaches, city planning, stakeholder engagement processes, and the activities that provide benefit to the community?

Regenesis Group, based in Santa Fe and Boston, has been pioneering a practice called regenerative development, which seeks to reveal and work with the inherent potential of a place. Specifically, Regenesis has developed a methodology called “Story of Place,” which aims to “access the deep love and caring that people have for their place, and then reconcile the inevitable contrasting stakeholder viewpoints into a higher-order understanding that all stakeholders can experience, share, and work from together.” This methodology creates an understanding of what is unique, important, and fundamentally programmed into any given community.

The Story of Place process is built on thorough research about a place’s unique characteristics – what differentiates it geologically, ecologically, and culturally from any other place. The process pulls on a community’s collective experience to explore a place’s distinction—from pre-human history through human inhabitation—considering how culture has developed though time. It uncovers complex patterns that point to customized strategies for supporting a place’s ecological, social, and economic resilience. Ultimately, the process offers unique solutions for making a place thrive.

In this process, community members are active participants in the story of their place. They take ownership through community planning processes and along the way, reaffirm their belonging in the community. As a result, creativity and cooperation drive the planning process, enabling the community to think outside the box, address larger challenges, and regenerate from the inside out.

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How You Can Get Involved

IBE, in collaboration with the Urban Lab, is pleased to join Regenesis Group to bring Story of Place to Fort Collins beginning this spring. On April 11, Ben Haggard, founding principal at Regenesis Group, will discuss regenerative development and Story of Place (register); he’ll also present in Denver at the Alliance Center on April 10 (register). Then, through a hybrid online and in-person training from June to September, Fort Collins participants will re-discover our place and our collective experience within it. To learn more about Story of Place and how you can get involved, contact Colin Day at colin.day[at]colostate.edu.

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Creating a Community Health Hub at Salud Family Health Centers

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Katie Vega

Sustainability Associate, Public Health


The Colorado Health Foundation has awarded a one-year, $192,495 planning grant to design a proposed model for a community health hub in northwest Fort Collins, located at Salud Family Health Center’s newest clinic. IBE will lead the initiative to plan the proposed community hub guided by the following principle: ‘Make health less about medicine and more about community.’

Members of the community currently face fundamental barriers to health and wellbeing

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Image courtesy of The Family Ride

including food insecurity, lack of insurance, and poor or lacking built environment infrastructure (e.g., contiguous sidewalks). The design of the envisioned Salud Community Health Hub, to be located at 1830 Laporte Avenue, would offer a preventative approach to address such “upstream” health factors. The main idea is that the Health Hub will provide a centralized, inclusive space where Salud patients, providers, staff, and local community members can easily connect to a network of local organizations and service providers to achieve improved health outcomes.

IBE will help establish the Salud Community Health Collaborative, which will be the guiding advisory team during the planning phase of the project. Collaborative members include Salud Family Health Centers, Food Bank for Larimer County, Vida Sana, Sproutin’ Up, Bike Fort Collins, One Health Institute at CSU, and the Built Environment Working Group at CSU. Additional partnerships will be explored as the project progresses. The Collaborative is comprised of community partners that represent all three spectrums of health: disease prevention, disease treatment, and health generation. Collaborative members will contribute their specialized knowledge and experience to the project, exploring ways to provide integrated care—connecting preventative health and primary care. For example, a treatment protocol may entail a Salud health provider writing a prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables to be filled at the Health Hub community garden and/or food pantry.

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Sproutin’ Up. Image courtesy of Odell Brewing.

To ensure the design of easy access by community members and create well-connected service facilities, the project team will examine both the surrounding built environment infrastructure and the health hub site designs. Active design, universal design, healthy community design, and other evidence-based design frameworks will ultimately influence a site plan that best supports this specific community’s health and wellbeing. While the Colorado Health Foundation grant will make the design possible, additional funding will be required to build the vision.

From the onset, the project team will engage service providers and local community members—foundational to the Health Hub’s development—to better understand their needs, barriers, and opportunities for health and wellbeing. Community members will contribute to the overall project vision through focus groups and one-on-one interviews. Further, IBE will facilitate hands-on design workshops to support community members in creating a unique vision for the Health Hub.

For additional information, contact Katherine Vega, at katherine.vega(at)colostate.edu.