VOICE Project: Valuing Our Individual Cultures through Engagement
Community members share stories and share knowledge about their lived experiences for a deeper understanding about food and healthy weight; making engagement more meaningful.
Watch the VOICE video here!
DID YOU KNOW...?
- Listening to and sharing stories honors community members' lived experiences
- Resident engagement can lead to community transformation.
- Talking about eating habits and food choices can increase social connections and lead to positive health behaviors.
The VOICE Project (Valuing Our Individual Cultures through Engagement) uses storytelling and story-based dialogues to engage community members from various cultural backgrounds to share their insight about how culture is connected to food, healthy weight, and body size.
Between June 2011 and January 2012, the Minneapolis Department of Health convened and video-recorded a series of VOICE dialogues with members from the American Indian, African American, Latino, Hmong, and Somali communities. Community-based organizations and community leaders hosted the events and served a cultural meal at each event. VOICE used asset-based inquiry questions related to:.
o How would you describe a “good” meal?
o How does a “good” meal make you feel?
- Body size:
o How does food relate to how others view you?
o Does your size impact how you are viewed - or how you view and feel about yourself?
- The connection between, food, culture, place & time
o How have cultural traditions around food evolved or changed over time?
o In what ways do the seasons, or where you live now, affect the foods that you and your family eat?
Accomplishments and Results:
The VOICE Project created a space for the community voice to be heard. Over 100 community members, across five different cultural groups, participated in VOICE. These story-based dialogues were recorded, translated, and transcribed. Analysis was completed in the summer of 2012 and seven themes emerged across cultural groups. These VOICE Themes will inform Healthy Living work moving forward.
- Cultural foods are connected to feelings and memories
- Family-friendly spaces and social connections make exercise easier
- Good eating habits are shaped by mealtime
- Cooking together and sharing knowledge increases awareness about healthier food options
- Close food should be good food *Food that is close by should be good food
- Eating habits and food choices should be talked about and can spark change
- Cultural foods once associated with sustenance and healing may harm health today
There is tremendous power in sharing stories and talking that can lead to healthier behaviors. The impact of VOICE has been multi-faceted. For example, some VOICE participants have adopted healthier behaviors related to food choices and cooking. Also, a 2011 Food Day event was organized by a group of African American VOICE participants and United Methodist church members. Over 40 community members came together to discuss food and culture, and learned about local church-based community gardens.
Through stronger partnerships and increased resident engagement, Minneapolis' public health work aims to be more inclusive and meaningful to cultural communities. The health department has already integrated some VOICE Themes into its Healthy Living initiatives by:
- Creating Health Hubs to increase social connections around healthy living and community gardening
- Expanding the Healthy Corner Store Initiative and increasing fresh produce at food shelves to make food that is close by good food
- Exploring “Healthy Mealtime” as a new initiative to promote healthier eating
Going forward, the health department plans to use the VOICE Videos as a tool to further engage various communities around food-related dialogues and apply the story sharing method to other public health topics.
- One page description of the VOICE Project
- The Minneapolis Department of Health has created a series of web-based VOICE videos that showcase each VOICE Theme and the impact the dialogues had on individual participants and groups.These VOICE videos are available to the public and can be used to spark more dialogue and increase engagement. VOICE videos can be accessed through the City of Minneapolis YouTube Channel and the Healthy Living home page.
- In November 2012, the health department will issue a dialogue guide as tool for communities and stakeholders to further engage residents in community transformation, with the aim of achieving health equity and promoting healthy living.
Last updated May. 1, 2013