By now, hopefully, you have heard that the Columbia Gorge region (Wasco, Hood River, Sherman, Klickitat, and Skamania counties) have been recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for creating a culture of health in our region through collaboration and innovation.  If you haven’t heard the news, check out the full story at www.rwjf.org..

While the RWJF recognition is significant, exciting, and humbling, it is not an end to the work.  We have not figured everything out yet. This award is a pat on the back for a job well done…so far! 

This pat on the back is not just for those of us working on these issues today.  The work of creating a healthier Gorge community and meeting the needs of community members has been going on for decades… and longer.  Few of the current innovations, ideas, and initiatives would be successful without the tireless work of those who came before us.  People like Dr. Tina Castañares, Micheal Mehling, June Knudsen, Lou DeSitter, Maija Yasui, Joella Dethmann and many, many more, as well as those compassionate community members who started the United Way, The Next Door, FISH Foodbank, Opportunity Connections—all launched more than 40 years ago.  (Not to mention the thousands of community volunteers over the years). 

I’m sure those who came before us would say that their work was built on those who came before them, people like Anna Springs who was instrumental in starting the first Hospital in the Gorge, and the Women’s Club who built the Hood River Library in 1912.

Forgive me, I am not intentionally leaving out any predecessors in The Dalles, or Sherman County or in Washington.  I simply don’t know the names of people who have worked through the years to build a healthier community in those areas.  I have no doubt that they existed.  This recognition from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is for them too. 

But, make no mistake, we are not done!  Not by a long shot.  Ask anyone involved in this work today or yesterday, and they will all say the same thing, we still have too many people going hungry, too many people without safe, secure housing, too many people with chronic disease, too many people without… and not enough solutions yet. 

We in the Gorge are committed to trying new ideas, learning from our challenges, and building on our successes. We are certainly honored and thrilled to receive the Culture of Health Prize for our work so far, but we will not rest on any laurels. We are moving forward every day, as a community, building a stronger culture of health.

Please click on whatever you need to click on to receive this blog.  I will attempt to use it to update, explain, and highlight the continued work of creating a healthier community.  

And, don't forget to check out the website www.gorgeimpact.com for more info about the programs, background, and partners in this collective impact work.

Paul Lindberg