Why does it always seem so sudden, when the hours of daylight shorten this time every year? At my house I face due west, and I can watch every day how much further south (or north after the solstice) the sun sets each day, but for some reason I don’t pay as much attention to the length of daylight until this time of year.
Each season has great significance, especially for communities that are closer to the land – tilling the soil, planting; the growth, the harvests, storing for the winter. We also know that changes in seasons can impact the well-being of community members – it is harder for people who don’t have secure housing (think colder and wetter), who work to maintain their mental health when daylight shortens are just two examples. It is critical that we keep our eyes open for those who could use our help.
When we hired our first Tribal Liaison in November 2018, one of the first conversations I had with them was about the fall season, and how ‘traditional’ holidays like Thanksgiving overshadow what fall means to Indigenous people with their unbreakable connection to the land. I think of that conversation every year, and feel gratitude that those words were shared with me. Our first liaison, Candice, also shared a quote from Billy Frank Jr. that has been on my wall ever since:
“I don’t believe in magic. I believe in the sun and the stars, the water, the tides, the floods, the owls, the hawks flying, the rivers running, the wind talking. They’re measurements. They tell us how healthy things are. How healthy we are. Because we and they are the same. That’s what I believe in.”
Imagine if this is how we were measuring progress toward equitable well-being, instead of only relying on utilization of health care services. They – and we – are connected. And if we are after a different end, we probably need new ways of measuring well-being.
I was honored to be able to listen to the proceedings from the Centennial Accord this week, especially as Tribal leaders constantly remind the Governor and other state leaders that our well-being is connected to the health of our water, air, trees, fishing, salmon… that health care is connected to natural resources, forest land, fishing rights, education, incarceration, and more. I learn so much by sitting and learning from Tribal leaders – it’s like what I imagine listening to the United Nations must be like.
In 2020, North Sound ACH adopted the Vital Conditions for Well-being, adding to other frameworks that guide our work. That framework also shows the intertwined relationship of our personal health with a thriving natural world.
We’re beginning to plan our next Partner Convening, which will be in late January, and we’re imagining how we’ll lift up examples of those vital conditions, so it should be enriching (and kind of fun!)
Members of the Collaborative Action Network will see holds pop onto your calendars for January 23-25, 2023. No, we’re not meeting for three days 😊 but it will be either Tuesday/Wednesday or Wednesday/Thursday that week. Once we confirm the location, we will update those calendar holds.
Thank you for continuing on the learning journey with us – Tribal sovereignty, equity, targeted universalism, anti-racism, the Vital Conditions for Well-being, and now Leading with Love. It was fun presenting last month with Nicole Willis at the Washington State Public Health Association conference about our six-year journey toward leading with love. What we heard – people are hungry for ways to heal the hearts, minds, and bodies in workplaces and in their communities. You are part of that leadership, and we thank you for continuing to do what you do!