Take Us To A Better Place
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health, approached us with a desire to create a book that would spark new conversations about what a “Culture of Health” might look like in the future—one in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being.
A TALENTED TEAM OF LITERARY CONTRIBUTORS
We conducted extensive outreach to identify a diverse group of ten authors who would contribute to Take Us to a Better Place. They include such award-winning writers as Martha Wells, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Yoon Ha Lee, Frank Bill, and Karen Lord, among others. We worked closely with each of them, along with the team at RWJF, to see their stories through from ideation to completion. The collection ultimately explores a broad range of health and societal issues—from immigration and climate change to cultural identity and family connection.
We also tapped renowned author and cultural critic Roxane Gay to pen the book’s foreword, and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Pam Belluck to contribute an introduction.
In order to give the collection an added visual element, we approached ten artists from around the world to create accompanying illustrations for the stories. Each of them collaborated closely with the author they were paired with to understand their stories and bring them to life visually.
PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL RELEASES
We produced Take Us to a Better Place as both a digital ebook, which the Foundation made available free for readers, and a beautiful physical tome that they distributed to their employees.
Take Us to a Better Place received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and Karen Lord’s story, “The Plague Doctors” was chosen for inclusion in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021.
VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB
To help spark discussion around the stories, we produced an online Conversation Guide to the stories that readers could download. But because Take Us to a Better Place was released at the start of the COVID pandemic, organizing in-person book club discussions wasn’t possible. So instead, we invited 25 members of the FoST community to participate in a virtual book club over Zoom featuring two of the collection’s authors, Karen Lord and Yoon Ha Lee. The discussion focused on how we could emerge from the crisis in a way that would be healthier and more resilient for all.