Blue Zones project making Klamath Basin home

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Blue Zones is a phenomenon coming to a number of different cities around the United States and elsewhere, and focuses mainly on the research of Dan Buettner who studied areas where a higher-than-normal concentration of people reached the 100-year mark.

Healthways, a for-profit health provider, is using that research to launch the Blue Zones program in cities like Klamath Falls, Ore. Their website describes the Klamath Falls program as "A vital part of Oregon's Healthiest State initiative, Blue Zones Project encourages changes to our community that lead to healthier options.
By bringing residents, worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and government together, Blue Zones Project will inspire a community movement that has the power to improve the quality of life for everyone."

The first step included gathering more than 200 influential community members at the Ross Ragland Theater and pitching collaboration between government entities and businesses to provide what are referred to as a "hundred nudges" in choices like what is available on a restaurant menu or what choices are available to school kids in the cafeteria. 

Among the various stakeholders the members of Kingsley Field have a vested interest in their community and as such, Col. Kirk Pierce, 173rd Fighter Wing Commander, has joined with the community in welcoming the program to the basin.

"The Blue Zones Project has helped 11 other communities throughout the nation to move their Public Health agenda further in 10 months then they thought imaginable in 10 years," said Pierce. "We are a community-based organization and will directly benefit from having a healthier, happier community to recruit within. Moreover, the project will help to retain Airmen and civilians since their families will see a tangible improvement in their day-to-day lives, whether that is a reduction in health costs, an increase in physical health opportunities, or improved productivity."

He goes on to say that the program represents an opportunity to support the community, sharing the "can-do" attitude inherent to Kingsley's Airmen and civilians.
The next steps involve hiring a staff of four people and a community kick-off party which Blue Zones Consultant Erika Graves says will more than likely be held in late 2015 or early next year.