Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cedar Rapids named Blue Zones community

The City of Cedar Rapids celebrated its designation as a Blue Zones Community yesterday evening with a gala celebration at the Downtown YMCA. Mayor Ron Corbett, along with representatives from the Blue Zones organization and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield (which spearheaded the initial efforts), spoke at a brief ceremony.

Mayor Corbett, in recognizing participating volunteers from the community, praised the "grass-roots efforts" that led to the city's achievement. He noted "It was never meant to be a top-down effort," and promised "This is really just the beginning" of efforts to promote health and happiness. He pointed out Cedar Rapids is the largest city in Iowa with a Blue Zones designation. In your face, Des Moines.

Community organizations representing the nine Blue Zones ideals were located at stations around the gym and racquetball courts. Groups ranged from medical offices to churches to social services. Here, Taylor Bergen chats up visitors about the Ultimate Frisbee team:

Hy-Vee, all seven of whose Cedar Rapids grocery stores have achieved Blue Zones designations, offered healthy snack samples and hosted cooking demonstrations.

There were demonstrations of fun ways to get moving, in which attendees enthusiastically joined.

All told, it was an impressive mobilization of community organizations.

By now, 56 worksites, 36 restaurants, and 18 schools have fulfilled the requirements for Blue Zones designation. 22000 individuals have made some level of commitment to attaining Blue Zones goals. The impacts can be seen in new ways (which are actually older ways) of thinking about how we design our cities, and the kinds of food we choose and offer to others. It seems to be having an effect on how people think about community as well, which is all to the good.

"Am I Blue," 4 June 2013
"Dan Burden on Sidewalks and the Future," 13 December 2015

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