An Answer to a Need
Blue Zones Project® is a national organization based on the research of National Geographic Fellow and author Dan Buettner, who examined the longest-lived communities in the world. Circling them on a map in blue pencil, he coined them “Blue Zones.” Buettner found a change in environment was more effective than a change in lifestyle when it came to healthy living.
In support of Oregon’s Healthiest State initiative, Blue Zones Project® encourages making the healthy choice the easy choice across communities. By bringing individuals, worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and government together, Blue Zones Project® inspires a community to improve the quality of life for everyone.
Klamath Fall’s participation kicked off in the summer of 2015 after local wellness groups came together to find ways to improve Klamath County’s poor public health record. Blue Zones Project® works with communities across the United States. Out of more than 300 contenders, Klamath Falls become one of 42 cities selected and was the first chosen in the Pacific Northwest.
Healthy Choices Made Easier
Blue Zones Project® focuses on making small but sustainable improvements across environment, policy and social networks. That means residents and business owners alike are focused on improving well-being for themselves and their neighbors.
One concept that has gained significant traction is the idea of a moai (moe-eye), a close-knit social group found commonly in Okinawa. Buettner and his colleagues learned close relationships and the presence of dependable friends contributed greatly to the long lives of Okinawans. Moai have become an integral part of Klamath Falls since Blue Zones Project® inception in the community.
Along with the benefits of social circles, expanded healthy food options are making a difference. According to Buettner’s research, long-lived communities have diets consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and a sparse amount of meat and dairy. The goal of is not to eliminate alternatives to this type of diet, but to make these options more appealing and accessible or, as Blue Zones Project® employees like to say, “Make the healthy choice, the easy choice.” Participating restaurants and grocers provide healthy options that are clearly marked.
Journey of Success
As of March 2018, more than 6,000 Klamath Falls residents have participated in Blue Zones Project® activities by either signing a personal pledge, participating in a moai, volunteering or attending a Purpose Workshop. In addition to individual engagement, Blue Zones Project® has worked with local partners to create policies that encourage natural movement throughout the day and a plant slant diet. This has been achieved by creating more than a dozen new trails, plus plans and capital improvements that increase walkability and bikeability in the community. Increased access to local food has been accomplished by connecting local producers with local consumers year-round and expanding opportunities for customers to utilize SNAP benefits. These actions have helped bring health and wellness conversations to the forefront of our community and resulted in healthier lifestyles and higher community pride.
As the program grows, so do the number of approved organizations. According to Jessie DuBose, Klamath Falls has nearly 60 total worksites, schools, restaurants, faith-based and civic organizations that have met the criteria and pledged their commitment to creating a healthy environment for their employees and the community.
Our Part of Their Story
SmithBates is proud to have worked with Blue Zones Project® – Klamath Falls from the start, providing design and production of everything from recipe cards and boards to in-store signage to large display graphics as well as targeted mailing campaigns and more. Working within their brand guidelines, we have helped the Blue Zones team establish a visual presence in the community. It is rewarding to be a part of a movement that brings the community together with the goal of living longer, better lives.
– Jessie DuBose, Community Program Manager, Blue Zones Project® – Klamath Falls