NECSI Salon: First Day Celebration

NECSI’s action-based 4th Wednesday Salon focused on First Day. This is an event which provides the resources, framing, and impetus to take personal responsibility for community health. It is not a fix-all, but is it an important, missing piece in the US health care debate, and a fulcrum for connected shifts to a healthier society.

On Wednesday, March 11th, we will hear talks from Deb Roy from the MIT Media Lab, Devin Belkind from OccupySandy, and Sam Klein from Wikimedia on Distributed Organizations. Register here.

First Day is about taking personal responsibility for your own wellbeing at personal and global level. Inspired from the idea of regeneration and new year resolutions, First Day wants to create a community level engagement at a personal level and community level.


Deck created by Catalina Butnaru

Deck created by Catalina Butnaru

We assumed those attending would be both in a position to, and have a desire to, act. The Wednesday before had provided space for folk to ramp up to this state, including review of readings about a similar Wal-Mart initative. We were additionally inspired by Boston’s own First Night and City Awake.

After very short reminders of what we were there to accomplish for the day, each person introduced themselves and what they were interested in specific to First Day. From these, we pulled out a few break-out sessions tasked with creating an actionable list or guidelines for organizers to work with. The overarching points we ended with were an appreciation of the need of safe space for people to ask questions which might otherwise be taboo (especially around health), comfort in complex problems having interventions (especially with a light hearted attitude!), an appreciation for existing cultural events (Days of the Dead as well as Chinese, Tibetian, and Indian celebrations of new cycles and health), and holistic approaches to mental and physical health.

Slightly curated notes follow:

Refining the Message

learn + care + act: as leitmotif for everyone there.
First Day for partners, participants, sponsors: to learn, care, and act

about yourself, your family, about your network or patients, about particular communities or conditions

make this informal and welcoming. not a sale, no marketing. focused on topics, not on selling a solution

Existing networks focused on outreach and some of the above:

  • health service initiatives (startups, tools)
  • charities, publicity campaigns (often by condition)

Topics for the Fair: areas of most uncertainty, people need reassurance

  • old age : alzheimer’s, self care, company
  • insurance: finding doctors
  • getting regular care: what is available; insurers: in position to ensure people go to the doctor
  • intervention: what is possible, appropriate [mental health, &c]
  • maternity: starting a family, childbirth,
  • chronic pain: exercise, rehabilitation

Stakeholders, defining motivation for each community

  • Business
  • Academic
  • Public

Something the community wants to give, or to solve. A reason to meet together, around what subject. Totally open, or guided topic.
If you have a different parts of the community get together and decide on the community level about commitments.

A topic that you care about is more attractive than a generic health fair; which is more attractive than a topic you don’t care about. A celebration is more attractive than an informational event.

So – Invite people to ‘come find your health problem’ at a gathering? Have something like this founded in games and science and discovery?

We focused on ‘Health’ rather than personal resolutions and commitments (compare WalMart’s annual event). What if this broadened to personal improvement?

How to make the event actionable in the moment

Optimize for games and Aha! moments. Fun, Groups, Feedback. How we provide value to the community: value as an outcome, fun as a driver.

Creating a network – Learn and Connect. Make friends.

  • example of phones off in class – bigger reward when the group acts in a certain way (Minority Problem).
  • community or neighborhood paired to itself. Not just an aggregation of individuals, but something you participate in together. Collective.

Gamifying the event + identification with a group + finding incentives to do more given group identification
It’s empowering to make it feel comforting, so we can break the barriers of shame, taboo, to actually address serious problems in a comforting way
FUN is the reason to bring them together, and the outcome is learning, value and community building

Working through one Topic

This group discussed if we’d like to focus down on one topic. Topics that impact people’s lives, but action can be taken from prevention to treatment at community level based on how far along a condition is. Possibilities included chronic inflammation, lack of sleep, water, allergies/intolerance, addiction.


Distributed component in addition to central fair?

Checklists for different levels of society

  • for cities: checklist for things to do on First Day: walk in clinics, talk about collective obligations, &c
  • for community leaders: checklist for your flock, events and outreach
  • for individuals: checklist for self, talk to your close family (and friends)
  • for organizations: send people to learn, reflect on what you can improve
  • for sponsors: ways to reflect, amplify this community process (compare WalMart day of health & resolution)

Things to worry about

How to vet organizational participants.
Choosing a date that makes sense. First day makes sense;

Deck created by Catalina Butnaru

Deck created by Catalina Butnaru

also considered existing health related holiday things that we might plug into.
Boston: marathon! Chinese / Tibetan New Year. (Tie in with each community)

Avoiding duplication, can we build, augment, etc? Or is redundancy ok?
Preventing across co-option. Trademark transmission

Closing Comments

Thanks to everyone who came out and made the event amazing. We look forward to building First Day with you!

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