The State We're In

The State We’re In is a podcast that explores themes related to health, health equity and community. In these episodes we’ll examine what it means to have fair and just opportunities to be healthy in our communities and share stories related to root causes of preventable death and disease: commercial tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating.

EPISODE 1: Trends and Traditions


The factors that play the greatest role in Minnesota’s heath inequities – race, income and ZIP code – reflect the policies, systems and environments in place that prevent people from taking care of themselves. Looking at these influences and creating solutions is critical to creating healthy, strong and thriving communities for generations to come.

In our first episode we examine how health is shared from generation to generation. The episode combines conversations, reflections, and art to explore themes around how we learn about and come to understand health.


Sasha and FayeSasha Houston Brown and her mom, Faye Brown, explore what health means to them in their family, work, and their daily lives.

Faye Brown has worked for 38 years to build Native/non-Native alliances to protect and restore the Earth. She began Faye Brown Consulting, Inc. in 2010 to focus on lifting up community solutions to the economic and environmental challenges of our time. Her greatest achievement is bringing Sasha Houston Brown into the world and being her mom. With Sasha as inspiration, Faye is trying to lead a healthy life.

Sasha is Mdewakanton Dakota from the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska and holds a BA degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Carleton College. She has spent her life as an active member of the Minneapolis American Indian community and has been involved in numerous social and economic justice initiatives both locally and nationally. Sasha has spent much of her career working in Indian education and Indian health and wellness. She is currently a Communications and Advocacy Consultant with the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota where her work focuses on guiding communications around early childcare, K-12, healthy eating, and the Center’s Health Equity in Prevention work.

Phone Calls from Community

We asked people of all ages to call in and leave messages about health. We heard about trying new healthy foods, the importance of safe neighborhoods, how people are learning new ways of taking care of themselves.

A Poem

Brittany DelaneyFrom Brittany Delaney, a spoken word artist from the Twin Cities.

My grandmother tells stories of hospitals in her day
One of barriers
One of trauma
One of fear

When we are sick she pulls remedies from tattered note cards and mangled notebooks
Recipes passed through generations misunderstood by the docs and nurses around them
She insures this cold
This ache
This fever
Will break by morning
All we need is this prayer
This herb
This food
This belief that better days are coming

She doesn't speak of bad health
She says with stern eyes
“Only life. Only… speak life”
Both a lesson and a warning

I feel this chill down my spine when I am ill
When my only option left is a doctor’s office or the never ending maze of a hospital
The assumptions
The routine
The information from my history and what's presently playing tug of war with the gown
The need to know what I don't about my body
And the urge from family to accept nothing that is negative into my thinking process

Culture and beliefs sit within my back
Directing my bones through muscle memory
Sometimes telling me that history repeats itself
Even in today’s medical practices
Sometimes telling me that these hallways are bridges to new understanding

I envy those who don't have to sit with crossed fingers hoping for the latter
Envy their peace of mind
Envy their comfort

All anyone wants is to be understood
To be heard
To be told that help is actually on the way.


EPISODE 2: Othering and Belonging

Next time on The State We’re In we’ll be tackling the topic of Belonging and Othering.  We’ll look at what it means to belong to a community, to a society, to one another. Conversely, we look at what it means to feel ‘othered,’ kept out, marginalized, and the health implications people experience when systems are created and perpetuated that exclude them.

Phone Lines are Open for our Next Episode

We want to hear from you! Tell us a time when you or someone you know felt othered and how it affected your health. What does it mean for you to feel like you belong? Why do you think it’s important to belong to one another?

Please call us at 1-877-972-7563 and share your thoughts.

Don’t forget to give us your full name and phone number so we can contact you to follow up on your story.

We look forward to hearing your stories.


More About the State We're In

This podcast is produced by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. This inaugural season we hope to produce episodes around the following themes:

  • Trends and Traditions
  • Trauma and Repair
  • Surviving and Thriving
  • Belonging and Othering
  • Interdependence and Independence
  • Wellness and Disease


  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.