TILLAMOOK COUNTY WELLNESS – “WHY I’M IN …” Laura Swanson, Editor, Tillamook County Pioneer

The Tillamook County Wellness “Why I’m In” interview series highlights our community partners and what has inspired and motivated them to work toward the common goal of improving community health.
“WHY I’M IN …” Laura Swanson, Editor, Tillamook County Pioneer
What drew you/your organization into the Year of Wellness, now Tillamook County Wellness?
As a member of the media, covering stories on health and wellness is important to me. I’m all about education and outreach. It’s important to get this information out into the community.

There is so much bad news in the world. This is about sharing the good news and that’s really what people want to hear about. I feel like our community was ready for this.
I’ve been involved with the wellness efforts from the beginning. We always wanted this to be about positive messaging. No shaming. Just simple, practical tips – eat a little better, walk a little more – that kind of thing. That’s what appealed to me and made me want to get involved.

What, if any, changes have you seen come about as a result of this work?
If you did a Marketing 101 study, this would be an example of how well a campaign will work when the community is ready. I have been amazed at how quickly this concept of Wellness has caught on. The fact that about 85% of people recognize Tillamook County Wellness as a brand is absolutely amazing.
The other thing that has been so great is to see all of our community partners working together and that this is truly county wide. It’s been so much fun to work with innovative people and see some of the outside-of-the-box thinking.

What have you learned from being involved in this work?
I have learned how to slow down and assess things. I’m totally a boots-on-the-ground, let’s-get-started kind of person. Yet, early on, it was clear that what we were doing wasn’t sustainable.
When we stepped back from the original YOW effort to focus on Diabetes prevention, I was afraid we would lose momentum. I have learned that sometimes you shouldn’t just jump in. Sometimes, even if we don’t want to, we need to stop the horse and make sure we are on the right horse, on the right road, going the right direction and doing it for the right people.
That was really hard for me – to hit pause – but now I see that this was the right path.
The other thing I have learned is that change can be really hard both for individuals and for organizations, and it doesn’t happen overnight. All good things take time.

What are your hopes for this work as it relates to you/your organization?
As a media representative, my job is incredibly stressful. If I could, I would prefer to just cover the good things like health and wellness, outdoor activities, gardening and food. Even though that’s not realistic, this work is shaping our focus for the Tillamook County Pioneer. We really want to help our community through this platform. The work I am doing in Wellness aligns with what we want to do as an organization, providing the best possible news and resources we can for our community.

What are your hopes for this work as it relates to changing population health in Tillamook County.
My hope is that we can keep building on what we have started, taking it to a larger scale to impact more people.

I also hope to see more of us embracing change. That’s part of developing community resilience and building a sense of community. You see that when mother nature deals us a blow – how people step up and help each other out in times of crisis.

I also like the idea of templating this and bringing it to other communities.