Turning great ideas into healthier communities


How Communities Move Policy - Linking Locally, Regionally, Statewide, and Nationally to Create Change

2011 | Download

The right regional, state or federal policies can provide unique leverage points for local efforts. But staying informed about work at other levels and in other places can be challenging.

California benefits from many groups that have been working on these issues for years to improve community health and health equity. This brief maps the wealth of expertise, and networks in place to link advocates across communities, regions and levels throughout the state.

Download the report,  which explores how local changes to create healthy food and physical activity environments have the power to influence neighboring communities and regional, state, and federal policy.

Policy change happens at many levels. Changing policies and practices at a school or preschool, in a local business or workplace, or in your neighborhood or town creates local, palpable, and lasting change. It also provides models that can influence change in regional, state or federal policies.

Conversely, policy change at the regional, state or federal levels can have powerful local implications. These policy changes often direct or redirect funding, set standards, or create mandates across entire regions, states or the nation.

Yet, to be effective most policy changes require implementation at the local level. This interrelationship of policies at all levels, from local to national, creates opportunities for multiple approaches to pursuing healthy community goals, and gives immense importance to the efforts of advocates working at all levels, from the most intimate and local, to the most far reaching.

The greatest impact and progress is generally achieved when advocates at all levels stay informed about developments at the other levels, and strategically partner and coordinate their efforts. An iconic example of such coordinated effort was the process that brought about tobacco control laws in California. Simultaneously, communities across California pushed to pass local smoke free ordinances. Eventually, local policy changes achieved enough momentum on the issue that the state passed comprehensive laws.