Leveraging the power of arts, culture, and the creative industries to frame, seed, and scale innovation in health and wellbeing.

4-StepCult(OLD version)

HOPEBOX HEALTH: IDEAS xLab's 4-Step Cultural Innovation Strategy for Population Health Improvement


  1. Measure HOPE.
  2. Activate HOPE through the Project HEAL community design process.
  3. HOPEBOX: Re-imagine the community center as engine of transformation.
  4. HOPEBOX HEALTH : Connect  and integrate the network of cultural innovators and HOPEBOX sites into a model that brin gs together funding, practices, tools, research and curriculum under a common agenda for deploying cultural innovation to accelerate the pace and scale of population health improvement.


STEP 1: Measure HOPE.

In a world of exponential change and growing inequity, we believe the best way of predicting the future is to invent it. And we believe that  PEOPLE + CREATIVITY are the power behind radically better futures. But the first step is to close the HOPE GAP caused by structural inequity. Empirical studies have demonstrated that HOPE is one of the top predictors of wellbeing for both children and adults. 

While we are still working on our measurement approach, here is how we are framing the challenge:

Snyder, Irving & Anderson (1991, as cited in Snyder, 2000, p.8) define HOPE as:

“a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy) and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals)” .

CLICK ON VIDEO for the best, short explanation that we have been able to find. SOURCE: YoutTube - Uploaded by Kremen School and INTERESC Studio at Fresno State on 2016-12-02.

HOPE THEORY can be subdivided into four categories:

1. Goals that are valuable and uncertain are described by Snyder (1994, as cited in Snyder, 2000, p.9) as the anchors of hope theory as they provide direction and an endpoint for hopeful thinking.

2. Pathway thoughts refer to the routes we take to achieve our desired goals and the individual’s perceived ability to produce these routes (Snyder, 2000).

3. Agency thoughts refer to the motivation we have to undertake the routes towards our goals.

4. Barriers block the attainment of our goals and in the event of a barrier we can either give up or we can use our pathway thoughts to create new routes.

IDEAS xLab is using the Adult Dispositional Hope Scale (ADHS) (Snyder et al, 1991) to assess levels of hope as well as agency and pathway thoughts in our community sites. We are also beginning to work with media outlets to develop an approach for using the ADHS to establish a baseline measures for Project HEAL.  This type of approach -- combined with the promise of digital bio-markers to help us understand related issues like social isolation -- is how we are moving toward development of a multi-dimensional population-level measure to understand where opportunities exist for cultural innovation.

Additionally, through a partnership with City of Santa Monica (CA) Office of Civic Wellbeing,  IDEAS xLab is using their Wellbeing Index as a frame for working with our Project HEAL communities to organize the open-source data that is available and specific to their locations. 

STEP 2: Activate HOPE Through Project HEAL.


The two primary outcomes of Project HEAL's design process are:

1. Assist communities in using storytelling as the fuel of cultural innovation to re-imagine their community centers/spaces as a sustainable cultural hubs that deliver Quadruple Bottom Line Health Impact -- Mind/Body, Social, Environmental, Economic.

2. Use the process to drive increased civic engagement of vulnerable communities in the policy making process.

Policy is an imagining of the future. This is one of the core domains of all artists and an activity that is fundamentally cultural. To be sustainable, health and community development policies must find ways to become embedded in local cultures (Hangzhou International Congress on Culture and Sustainable Development, 2013). 

Project HEAL deploys a culturally-activated, social-lab process that uses various types of humanities-based approaches, artistic expression, media, and other strategies to explore both symptoms and root causes of local health challenges, identify leverage points, and create actionable policy initiatives and sustainable community center development strategies that positively impact health and wellbeing.


  • Developed by a team of artists, curators, community activists, social innovators, health professionals and scientists. 
  • Brings together people, research, tools and resources of three sectors: 
    • Arts/Culture
    • Community/Development
    • Health/Information S ciences
  • Replicable, scalable, evidence-informed approach. 
  • Flexible 36-month framework created to be co-designed with communities. 
  • Engages businesses, government, organizations, entrepreneurs, and researchers dedicated to a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
  • Builds community capacity by cultivating more fully engaged neighborhoods, with creative civic leaders, who have the necessary skills and resources, to develop policies and programs, that positively impact wellbeing at community-wide level. 

STEP 3: HOPEBOX: Re-imagining Community Centers as Engines of Transformation.


HOPEBOX© is a re-imagining of America's community centers (which also includes libraries, spiritual centers, etc.) as sustainable, cultural entrepreneurship hubs for population health improvement and innovation. 

While each of the Project HEAL communities will develop their own version of HOPEBOX© based on their unique priorities, IDEAS xLab will coach each community toward a Quadruple Bottom Line Impact design that can improve community health: Mind/Body, Social, Environmental, Economic.  

So, what does this look like in practice? 

STEP 4: HOPEBOX HEALTH - Connect the Network of Cultural Innovators.


Collectively the HOPEBOX network, together with government, research, industry and philanthropy partners, will comprise the core of HOPEBOX HEALTH© - a transdisciplinary accelerator program for Cultural Innovation Toward Population Health Improvement.

The thing that makes this accelerator different is that it will combine cultural strategies, science and lean start up/agile development methodologies to create real, measurable social impact in population health through a Quadruple Bottom Line focus.  

HOPEBOX HEALTH© will potentially be housed within the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences adjacent to the Center for Health Organization Transformation and the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky.  HOPEBOX HEALTH©  adaptive learning network will  initially be comprised of IDEAS xLab’s Project HEAL communities in Louisville, KY; Natchez, MS; New Orleans, LA; Wilmington, DE; Jackson, KY; Asheville, NC; Santa Monica, CA.  Each site is currently at the beginning phase of using the Project HEAL design process to develop its own HOPEBOX©.

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Imagine having an accelerator program that can culturally test and validate population-level solutions, business concepts, and social demand for services across diverse populations for maximum impact. That's what HOPEBOX HEALTH© plans to do. The result will be a savings of time, talent and money in population health innovation. As a social impact model, this savings can be passed through to communities to fuel capacity building and sustained civic engagement.

The vision for HOPEBOX HEALTH© is to operate as a practitioner-guided, integrated model that brings together funding, practice, tools, research and curriculum under a common agenda for deploying cultural innovation to accelerate the pace and scale of population health improvement.