“We're going through a shared initiation. There's a tremendous opportunity to reimagine what a healthy society could look like.” — Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Health is everyone’s business.

Good health does not begin the minute someone walks into a doctor’s office, yet so much of our attention and resources are dedicated to the last mile—healing patients who are already sick.

It's time to look upstream and design the first mile of health: where we live, learn, work, and play.

How might we make everyday life healthy by design?

First Mile Health is a collaboration between IDEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Building H. Together, we are building a coalition of partners committed to making health a part of everyday life. Join us.

“When we access moments of beauty, even in small doses during our day, studies show that they make us more pro-social.” — Florence Williams
“When we talk about health, it’s all an extended consequence of the what we're doing when we relate to ourselves when we relate to each other.” — Paul Haller


Explore the first mile of health.

In this interview series we look at health from the perspectives of nature, food, culture, religion, community to understand the different ways health touches everyday life and how unexpected moments can be designed for better health.

Jim Sallis


Catalyze A Caring Economy

“The pandemic has made life local. There’s an opportunity now to capitalize on the local, to value what's in our neighborhood and act to make that better.” — Jim Sallis

Catalyze A Caring Economy



Extract from People & Planet

Care for People & Planet

Viruses can spread, but so can joy can during this pandemic. People are learning the beauty, necessity, and responsibility of interdependence on one another and our environment. Local living has taken on a new meaning: neighborhoods are no longer simply the place we reside, they are the place of work and learning. Our communities are the centerpiece of everyday life and deserve to be cared for. Forgetting about scale for a minute, what might an economy for the “20-min neighborhood”—places where people could meet most of their everyday needs within a 20-minute walk—look like? How could relationships and neighbors introduce and sustain healthy patterns in everyday life?

How might we catalyze a caring economy to prevent chronic diseases?

  • What if the division between businesses and consumers eroded to create new communities of care?
  • What if communities had agency and equity in their health and wealth?
  • What if the products, services, and environments shaping everyday life designed for families of all forms, beyond the nuclear family?
  • What if neighborhood public spaces offered easy access to healthy experiences and amenities?
First Mile Health

Cooperative Food Distribution

The layers of distribution between farmers and communities are complex and this complexity results in food not reaching people at affordable prices. While there are many efforts to feed the hungry, there's a gap in reciprocal businesses that generate sustained revenue. How might we close the last-mile distribution gap between regional farms and urban communities?

Building cooking confidence

#RainbowTacoChallenge, a social media campaign launched with Eat REAL, an Oakland-based food access nonprofit, to encourage cooking confidence and help get food safely to families in need.

View Project

Nurture Human Connection



Maximizing Profit

Maximizing Nourishment

Our lives grow in meaning through interactions with others, but it’s hard to connect through isolated screens in a physically distanced world. From the psychological fatigue and physical strain of back-to-back video calls to the FOMO-induced anxiety amplified by social media, the pandemic reveals deep limitations in the technologies we have at hand. How could we comfortably “be our whole selves” in tiny, pixelated rectangles? If we are to avoid a “social recession”, digital experiences will need to do more than just connect—they must help people spend meaningful time together.

How might we nurture human connections to strengthen mental health?

  • What if technology encouraged socially-connected work rather than solo desk work?
  • What if digital experiences were joyful and rejuvenating rather than disembodying and draining?
  • What if digital interactions nurtured rather than distanced our connection to place?
  • What if technology enriched our everyday lives rather than forcing us into isolated, tiny rectangles?
First Mile Health

Blue Zone Zoom Room

The thing that Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), and Ikaria (Greece) have in common is that people living in those places–what author and educator Dan Buettner termed Blue Zones–enjoy more years of good health. While we can't all move to an island paradise, we could apply everyday habits in Blue Zones to shape our own environments in an era of virtual work and learning. How might we make remote collaboration physically active?

Building economic resilience into American cities

Bendable, a lifelong learning program launched with Drucker Institute and the City of South Bend, that addresses building resilience through a community-curated platform that connects people with opportunities to learn with and from each other.

View Project

Join Us

We’d love to hear from you.

Are you curious about how your organization might help build the first mile of healthier everyday life?

Let’s talk!
Joanne Cheung |
Nitika Johri |