By Jacquelyn Murphy

800px-Garden_of_the_Gods
At Garden of the Gods, Colorado’s evergreens and red rocks are easily accessible to Front Range residents. Credit: Corbyrobert at the German Language Wikipedia

What do you think of when someone says “environment?” Having grown up near the ocean, water is central to my concept of environment—wide open skies with puffy clouds, chirping birds, warm sun, and crashing waves. In Colorado, it’s easy to think of the mountains, evergreens, and red rocks, yet water is central to our environment here too. It sustains all of us, the many critters who were here long before we were, and provides some of the most stunning natural settings in the state.

Just like any component of our environment, water has the potential to promote health or deteriorate it, for example through contamination. When this happens, we feel suddenly betrayed by our water—such a common, trustworthy substance. Environmental health studies the ways that all of the substances in our varied environments impact population health, predictably or spontaneously.

Most of the time, we feel so at ease in these everyday environments that we forget to really notice them. But that is exactly what “Everyday Colorado” is asking you to do—to notice and share how the environment is part of your story. Environmental health studies can be improved and strengthened by aligning community priorities with what is of great concern to professionals.

Visit EverydayCO.org to share your stories, photos, and what you value most in your community. Then, share this link with your family and friends.

Through stories gathered by “Everyday Colorado,” at EverydayCO.org, we are hoping to learn what people value about living here. What are you concerned about in your daily environment? How prepared do you think we are for natural disasters, the environmental impacts of climate change, or water quality and quantity issues? Do you feel an impact on your health from your environment? Where do you find information about these things?

Colorado School of Public Health & partners around the state developed “Everyday Colorado” to understand not only what people value about living here, but also peoples’ concerns about the future of their environment, and how public health researchers and practitioners can better communicate with communities, creating the best environment for all of us.

Individual and community stories are most powerful together, like streams combining into a larger river. That is why we are trying to reach as many Coloradans as possible. Once the stories are compiled, a statewide report will be published to inform local and state environmental health priorities and policies with a critical force in shaping our environments: the community voice.

Now is the time. Share your stories at EverydayCO.org.

JM_HeadshotJacquelyn Murphy is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) student at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus. She holds a BA in Biology and Women’s Studies from Boston University and an MPH in Social and Behavioral Health from Boston University School of Public Health. Through graduate school and employment opportunities, she has conducted research and program evaluation internationally. She is interested in the ways that built environment, government policies, individual behaviors and social norms collectively contribute to health. When not in the classroom, she can be found suppressing her Boston accent and exploring Colorado’s mountains, reservoirs, yoga studios and coffee shops.

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