by Sam Levin
The Oakland-based Pacific Institute today released a community health research report, which outlines problems that plague West Contra Costa County in eleven interrelated economic, environmental, and health issues.
The report, called Measuring What Matters is somewhat unique in that it is the first neighborhood-level health project of this magnitude with research work and community support from seven local organizations, according to Eli Moore, research associate at the Pacific Institute and lead author of the project, which took three years to complete.
The final report - which will be handed out in a community forum tonight in Richmond - outlines eleven specific problems, including lead contamination in homes, high concentration of liquor stores, and lack of access to youth programs. The project was initiated by several community organizations, including Neighborhood House of North Richmond and the West County Toxics Coalition. Three years ago, the groups proposed the large research project to Pacific Institute, based on the model that the Pacific Institute established in the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, released in 2002, which involved extensive research into the fundamental issues West Oakland residents face.
This model, Moore, said has become increasingly popular in recent years because it allows the community to become more directly involved in these efforts. It also provides more revealing information since the research is tailored to a specific neighborhood and not an entire city. Since the issues directly affect residents, Moore said that local groups and individuals are more interested in supporting the efforts.
"It allows people to see information at the level of their neighborhood," he said. "It's an area you know about. It is the most visible and concrete way to document an issue." Moore added that at the city level, "you really lose the inequities that exist in neighborhoods - very real, gaping inequities." He said that Richmond is a prime example of a location that can benefit from neighborhood-specific research.
From here, Moore says that the involved organizations will move forward to help enact the proposed solutions for each individual project, including local outreach by community groups to increase programs to lobbying for financial support from the city council.