ELEVEN IOWA COMMUNITIES CLOSER TO BECOMING BLUE ZONES PROJECT DEMONSTRATION SITES
The project is based on Blue Zones® principles developed by author Dan Buettner. Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives. The Company's work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive—both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
In the first application round (November 2011), 84 communities indicated an interest in becoming Blue Zones Project demonstration sites. Of these 84 communities, 58 were asked to submit a comprehensive application. On January 4, 2012, 54 communities submitted their applications to continue their journey to become a demonstration site.
Eleven Communities Selected for Site Visits
The applications submitted by the finalists reflected strong commitment from community leaders, local employers, and government officials, as well as prior success in collaborative community initiatives.
The 11 finalist communities in the first application round are:
Ames Clinton Muscatine Spencer
Cedar Falls Davenport Ottumwa Waterloo
Cedar Rapids Mason City Sioux City
In late February, the Blue Zones Project Team will begin visiting the 11 finalist communities in a series of site visits—which are similar to a job interview. The community will learn more about what it means to become a Blue Zones Community™ while the Blue Zones Project Team will have the opportunity to better understand each community’s readiness. Site visits conclude in March and the first round of demonstration sites will be announced in May 2012. For more information on the Blue Zones Project, visit www.bluezonesproject.com.
For all Iowa communities, tools will be available to help them continue their path to improved well-being. The Blue Zones Institute™ will provide leadership training and tools to help leaders transform their community, work and home environments. “We want to encourage all Iowans to continue their journey to improve their well-being through programs such as the Blue Zones Institute,” said Mary Lawyer, Healthways state director of the Blue Zones Project. “It is important for communities to choose the path that is right for them. Some communities may choose a self-directed approach. Others may choose to apply to be a demonstration site in subsequent rounds.” Additionally, based on the strong response from employers in communities across the State, Wellmark and Healthways will consider an expansion of wellbeing improvement solutions for employers in the State of Iowa. Details are being discussed and will be announced at a future date.