Gauze & Effect Vol. 10: Intersections

9 min read
Sep 14, 2021 11:32:18 AM

In this issue:

From the Desk of Dr. Sarah

Note: Gauze and Effect is a newsletter all about our work in the Health space at mySidewalk. Past issues are available on Medium and new issues will be available on this blog!

Dear Readers, 

This issue’s theme is intersection--the literal and the metaphorical. If you stop to think about what an intersection really is, it can start to get very heady. An intersection is where things meet; it is where things merge. Intersections can get complicated, they can get dangerous. Without rules of the road, intersections can become chaotic. Intersections demand a system that everyone agrees to follow, even if they don’t like it, for the common good. 

Intersections are also beautiful opportunities to switch directions, to show kindness (you all know that wave, where you let someone go first), to cross paths with others who are coming from somewhere different. We are ourselves walking intersections of layers of identity, all meeting in this body and trying to figure out the rules of the road. 

There are intersections happening at mySidewalk that are bringing me a lot of joy. I’m seeing the lines between “verticals” blur, in a way that is mirroring my own professional intersections. Healthcare teams are discussing impact investing; Economic Development teams are talking about Life Expectancy; Community Development and Housing teams are talking about chronic disease. World-changing sits at the intersection of data and advocacy. 

This issue highlights some intersections we are quite proud of. Our rules of the road as a company haven’t changed, no matter what industry we are serving. Our right-of-way system is easy: whoever needs the most should get the most. From our solutions development to our data prioritization, we’re working to keep Equity top of mind--it is one epic road trip where we aren’t afraid to change course every once and a while to get where we need to be. 

Stay safe out there, and look both ways!

Q3–Lets Go -39-1

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We are where we live: introducing the Affordable Housing Preservation Toolkit


It is no secret that low-income families and households are struggling to find affordable housing options in their neighborhoods all over the United States. If you are reading this, it is likely that you work at or are associated with partners that think creatively to expand affordable housing in your area. Here at mySidewalk, we’ve joined health systems, housing developers, community-based organizations, for-profit companies, and government at all levels to address housing affordability.

At the center of helping find affordable housing solutions are the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC). Their research, data collection and advocacy have helped communities understand and preserve affordable housing stock across the country. The National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD), created and maintained by PAHRC and NLIHC, is the only deduplicated list of federally assisted rental housing in the US. It provides thousands of people access to the best understanding of affordable housing in their communities.

PAHRC and NLIHC teamed up with mySidewalk to make information from the database more accessible. Using mySidewalk’ proprietary data enrichment process, many of the most important indicators in the NHPD are now available in mySidewalk Seek and Chart for your city, town, zip code, neighborhood, census tract and more. This new availability means that mySidewalk subscribers have a simple and easy way to view and share affordable housing data and find solutions. 

If you want to check out the toolkit, drop is a line here

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A data moment: the importance of disaggregation for advancing equity

Across all of the industries we serve, no issue is more universal than the fight for racial equity. The first step to healing a problem is revealing the problem, and our data library is stocked with nearly 200 disaggregated data indicators to help you start necessary conversations in your community. 

Data on race and ethnicity is a critical part of a broader understanding of community barriers and opportunities. Our friends at New Jersey Community Capital recently partnered with mySidewalk to create a comprehensive equity assessment template, available to all of our customers in the Chart publishing platform. Using this template, our customers are not only able to see demographic breakdowns and trends, but they can also begin to understand the implications of segregation for community and household wealth-building. Check out measures of segregation in this image for Los Angeles, and check out the entire report here.

If you want to know more about centering race equity in your data, we love this toolkit from the Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP) center at the University of Pennsylvania.

And of course, you can always see our own data library here

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We’re out here! Find us this Fall

Fresh off our first real-deal work trips to the Rise Summit of Social Determinants and the HIMSS events, our vaxxed and masked team is feeling ready to get out there and meet people in person once again. You can find us in person and virtually alongside our partners at:

The Public Health Innovation Summit and Showcase, September 28th and 29th is going to be fabulous, as Kate Mallula and Dr. Sarah attend virtually alongside our partners at the Louisiana Department of Public Health. You won’t want to skip seeing this amazing talk about the modernization of their State Health Assessment. If our podcast with the team is any indication, it will be a powerful way to spend your time!   

Dr. Sarah will be presenting on our work in California busting down data walls for community health, at the Root Cause Coalition’s National Summit, October 4th-6th. She will be on a panel Wednesday the 6th from 2:10-3:00 (Eastern). Don’t miss it! 

We’ll also be wandering the halls of HLTH in Boston, October 17th-20th. This event brings together payers, providers, and changemakers under one roof to conspire about healthcare innovation. We’d love to meet up with you in person. Drop us a line at or just sign up here for a meeting slot!

The American Public Health Association Conference in Denver, October 24-27th. Our friends at Blue Shield of California will have a virtual poster all about our work to equip Community Health Workers with data tools for advocacy. If you’re there, be sure to look out for Dr. Faith Miller-Sethi, Kate Mallula, and Katie Bueno -- three members of our top-notch Health team! 


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Welcome to the Family! 


What a dynamite couple of new customers we have for you this issue. First up, a new partner we’ve been dying to work with since Dr. Sarah joined us nearly three years ago--the city of San Antonio, TX. We’re particularly excited about this opportunity because our teams in both Health and Economic Development are joining forces to elevate data stories across agencies. Talk about some intersections! 

New_York-Presbyterian_Hospital_logo.svg (1)

We’re also over the moon about our newest WhereHouse customer, New York-Presbyterian, an influential health system in a little-known city you may not have heard of: New York City. NY-P will be pulling in allllll the mySidewalk data to hydrate their patient-level data and take health analytics to the next level. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish through combining our 1 billion data points and their rich data. All of us are lining up to get out to New York to visit the NY-P team, Dr. Faith, and also the new Peloton studios that have been closed to the public since the pandemic started. 


Get To Know: Josh Boehm


Working remotely has forced us to rethink the ways we connect with each other. This craving for connection led us to unveil a regular feature — the Gauze and Effect Proust Questionnaire.

Modeled after the Vanity Fair feature, but interviewing much more glamorous and important people, our version turns a lens on our colleagues. Its purpose is to give you a glimpse into who they are and — in turn — who we are as a company.

Josh Boehm is a Solutions Architect for the mySidewalk Science team. Josh is responsible for prototyping new data analysis and visualization solutions that help our customers tell clear, compelling stories. Josh’s background in urban planning has equipped him to distill complex datasets into meaningful analysis that helps our customers make data-driven decisions and clearly communicate their message to stakeholders.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

Early in my planning career, I worked on a project to study potential KC Streetcar expansion routes. One of our community engagement tactics asked people to share their knowledge about their neighborhoods using an interactive scale model that was about 25’ x 25’, which I designed and built (with lots of assistance) over a few weeks prior to the project launch.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
For me, it’s exploring a new place or city on foot or by bike.

What is your favorite occupation? 

Urban planning! Although I live in a part of the country where people think “planner” means a financial or wedding planner, I think we can help communities for the better by giving people resources and tools to shape their environment. It’s a relatively new profession with lots of similar roots to public health and epidemiology.

What is your most treasured possession? 

I’m very proud of my fiddle-leaf fig tree -- not only has the flight not died under my care, it has thrived to the point that people ask where I downloaded my fake Zoom background.

What is your greatest fear? 

I’m pretty claustrophobic -- whenever I’m in the window seat on an airplane or in a crowded indoor space, I have flashbacks to my childhood being trapped in a pile-up of kids in a McDonald’s PlayPlace slide.

What is your greatest extravagance? 

Disposable wipes. I don’t know how I dealt with standard toilet paper all of those years.

Where would you like to live? 

Honestly, I’d love to live in my current city (Kansas City) in an alternate universe where urban renewal, highway building, and white flight never happened. In lieu of that, I’d settle for living in my city 20 years from now when some of that damage is undone.

What is the quality you most like in a person? 

I admire people who aren’t afraid (or overcome their fear) to speak up when there’s a need to do so.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

When I’m speaking to more than a couple of people (or recording something or leaving a voicemail), I have a lot of trouble landing the plane. I tend to keep talking until interrupted or my sentence dissolves into mumbles.

What do you most value in your friends? 

I think it’s important to have a similar (slightly warped) sense of humor

Which living person do you most admire? 

Dolly Parton! Who doesn’t love Dolly Parton?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

Does punctuation count? I tend to overuse the em dash -- though I think my use of it is technically grammatically correct. 

How would you like to die? 

By pool noodle in a battle of people named Josh


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This month on the pod

Dr. Sarah and her sister have a tradition, that every time they are back in the same city and find themselves at a Karaoke Bar, they sing a duet of this song:


We love reunions, which is why we are especially in love with our latest podcast episode with Ms. Colby Dailey--impact investment expert and former classmate (and student, apparently!) of Dr. Sarah. Sarah brings along her friend and compatriot, Brandon Gumm, to help host this Very Special Episode of the podcast. 

And don't forget to catch up on all of our past episodes! 


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