Health is linked to just about everything else in the universe. And so the Health, Medicine and Society Program and the Aspen Global Innovators Group launched Spotlight Health five years ago. “In every society, successful health systems and strategies will benefit everything else,” new Aspen Institute CEO Dan Porterfield said at his first Spotlight Health opening session. “Everything is deeply interdependent when health systems work—or melt down.”
Over three days in June, experts in all fields of health—doctors, nurses, institutional leaders, scientists, and policymakers—gathered in Aspen to debate and look at innovations. Sessions focused on community health, new findings in medicine and science, disruptive health care systems, and personal well-being. But the ideas transcended those themes—often touching on the intersections between health and poverty, justice, art, politics, food, violence, race, climate, education, and play. Participants even went on guided forest-therapy walks and mindful morning yoga sessions. As usual, the ideas and conversations that emerged—just a few of which are on the following pages—were richer for being held in Aspen.
An Epidemic of Gun Violence
After the Valentine’s Day school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed (all but three were teenagers) and the nation saw a massive uptick in attention to gun control, mental health, and trauma. At Spotlight Health, Ann Thomas, the CEO of the Children’s Place; Olivia Wesch, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; Kayla Schaefer, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; Ke’Shon Newman, a youth leader at Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere (or “BRAVE”) in Chicago; and journalist Ted Koppel came together to address gun violence and the tragedy of young life lost.