Looking back on 2022, I feel a renewed sense of connection. Throughout this year, which also marked the Nova Institute’s 15-year anniversary, the importance of relationships and reconnecting was very apparent. After many of us had been apart for so long, we longed for belonging and new ways to connect — and to feel that, working together, we could do something about the many crises unfolding around us. We saw the value of relationships with each other, with ourselves, as well as with the environment in which we live.
In September, I was thrilled to convene an in-person meeting with our incredible Scholars and Fellows for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. We shared stories of what sustained us and investigated the meaning of flourishing — including the idea that flourishing is not just about our own well-being, but also what we do to improve the lives of other people and even our own planet.
We also heard from communications experts about how to better connect our research with wider audiences during a time when skepticism and mistrust create harmful barriers.
And how important that outreach is, with this group of passionate individuals examining such diverse yet connected issues as art in hospitals, how to help children thrive, light exposure’s affect on the body, ideas for improving primary care, mindfulness in college students, and so many valuable contributions that change how we think about health.
Throughout the year, we joined in community with each other through virtual Nova Campfires around such timely issues as mental health, social justice, and healing, as well as a terrific Annual Conference that included speakers and attendees from more than 30 countries. Along with presentations about “tapestry thinking,” engaging people with different perspectives, and the intersection of a myriad of topics, presenters reminded us of the importance of doing the inner work — the relationship with ourselves so necessary to making change.
Also, after months of planning, we launched the Nova Integration Hub. Thank you to everyone who participated in focus groups, surveys, and beta-testing to help us make this customized (and free) online meeting space a reality! The Hub is a space to build new relationships and strengthen old ties as we gather to discuss research, share inspiration, and explore ways to collaborate. The Hub truly reflects an interdisciplinary approach that encourages us to reach outside our silos and see how so many factors — such as creativity, nature, nutrition, and social determinants — influence well-being. We are eager to connect not just with each other but with other institutions, communities, and associations on the Hub.
Continuing to expand our online and in-person networks around the world, we were pleased to announce the new Nova Network, directed by Nova Scholar Susan Prescott. This growing community’s mission is to transform the health of individuals, communities, and the planet through deeper understanding of the interdependence of all systems and by promoting awareness, attitudes, and actions required for meaningful, collaborative change.
Relationships and networks are so essential in this time of great challenges, including a mental health epidemic, widespread health disparities and inequality, increasing chronic disease, environmental degradation, and dangerous disinformation. Too much “othering” and not enough “belonging.”
I firmly believe that through the power of relationships, we can lift up new ideas and ways of thinking that lead to real solutions. Working together, we can see our vision of a world where health is valued as our most basic and essential asset and where people, places, and the planet flourish for the benefit of all, come true.
I am so grateful to all of our friends, colleagues, and supporters for joining us in this critical work and look forward to all we will achieve next year and in the years to come.
Professor Brian Berman, MD
President and Founder, Nova Institute for Health
Professor Emeritus Family and Community Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine