Blue Zones project, RAGBRAI to make 2013 ‘banner year’
It’s early in the year, but we already know 2013 is going to be a banner year for our community. During the month of February we will begin to engage our citizens in becoming a certified Blue Zones Community. We also have 30,000 guests to prepare for when RAGBRAI riders and their support teams spend their last overnight in Fairfield on July 26.
Since being announced in October as one of Iowa’s nine small communities to be designated as Blue Zones Project demonstration sites, we have been working with representatives from Wellmark and Healthways to organize for our community a plan of activities for charting a path to greater health and well-being. We have a great local leadership team that has been working and preparing for the launch of our plan in April.
The next step in our preparation comes in the form of community focus groups for feedback and engagement of our citizens in designing our plan. The focus groups will be targeting all of the Blue Zones Project certification areas such as schools, worksites, community policy, grocery stores and restaurants. Two of the focus groups are specifically for citizen engagement and will be held on Feb. 19 from 6:30-8 p.m. and Feb. 23 from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center. I invite everyone to come to one of the sessions and help us get our Blue Zones Project effort off the ground.
When we have finished getting the direction and ideas from our focus groups, we will write our Blueprint for Fairfield and unveil it in early April. When we began this process back in the fall of 2011 Fairfield registered 37 percent of our population as ready to take the Blue Zone personal challenge. As part of our preparations going forward we will be asking people to register again online to take a new pledge. To complete this task we will need 20 percent of our citizens registered, so I encourage you to do so right away at www.bluezonesproject.com.
There are many ways we will work together to make all of the areas that the Blue Zones Project addresses and here are some of the ways anyone can participate:
• Discover who you are at a Purpose Workshop.
• Find out your body’s “real age” with Vitality Compass.
• Take the Daily Challenge and make small, meaningful lifestyle changes.
• Participate in a Walking Moai Group to connect and stay fit.
• Get kids moving by joining a Walking School Bus.
• Help build a community garden the whole town can enjoy.
• Sign up your business to boost workplace well-being.
All of these great activities will fit nicely with being a host city for RAGBRAI. It has been 16 years since the annual bicycle ride came through Fairfield and much has changed since. RAGBRAI officials are aware of this and are excited about Fairfield being the most memorable stop on the ride. We are equally thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase Fairfield. The spirit behind the early organizational activities is high and local committees are forming. One new element to our community since 1997 is the formation of our Convention and Visitors Bureau. All of our preparations for the big event will be coordinated through the CVB. We will need help in the areas of camping, entertainment, housing, publicity, communications, information center, medical, electrical, showers, recycling, volunteers, hospitality and transportation.
Like the Blue Zones Project activities, this will take the cooperation of all our citizens and many volunteers to help prepare and host the riders on that day. If you would like to help out with our RAGBRAI committees, please call the CVB office and you will be steered to the committee that is of most interest to you. We have an extraordinary community of volunteers, and I have great confidence that we will make the best impression for our community.
Get involved with our RAGBRAI committees and plan to attend one of the Blue Zones Project focus groups this month. This winter we can prepare for a fantastic year of health, happiness, fun and pride in our community as we demonstrate what can be done when we all pull together to showcase Fairfield.
Ed Malloy is Mayor of Fairfield.