Southern Oregon Chapter of Credit Unions Takes a Deep Dive Into Blue Zones Concept for Healthier Communities

The Southern Oregon Chapter of Credit Unions’ summer meeting saw nearly 70 people crowd into a banquet room at Klamath Falls’ Running Y Ranch Resort. They had come to learn the secret to longer, healthier lives. Seriously.  And they were not disappointed by the wealth of information featured speaker Chip Massey shared with them about the “Blue Zones” concept.

““By encouraging employee involvement at all levels of the Blue Zones Project we are seeing an increased energy level and engagement from our staff.”

– Wendy Rohrbacker, Pacific Crest FCU

The Blue Zones movement started as a National Geographic expedition to determine where the longest living cultures are. The study, Massey said, identified a few very diverse locations with high percentages of people who lived to be 100 – Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan and a Seventh Day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California. Like the seven principles that bind credit unions and other cooperatives, people in those areas embody a thread of principles and behaviors.

They include:

  1. Move naturally;
  2. Have purpose;
  3. Downshift. Be willing to de stress;
  4. Honor the “80% rule.” Only consume enough food to make you feel 80% satisfied;
  5. Adopt a “plant slant” diet. Have more fruit, vegetables and fresh greens on your plate;
  6. “Wine at 5.” Enjoy one glass of red at the end of day;
  7. Belong to something;
  8. Put your family first; and
  9. Be in the “right tribe,”—the group of people who support your values.

Massey is Executive Director of the Klamath Falls Basin Chamber of Commerce. He is helping the community work towards Blue Zones certification—which requires employers, restaurants, schools, groceries and local citizens to meet healthier living standards.

Employees at Pacific Crest FCU are already drinking the water, having adopted many Blue Zones principles four months ago.

“We are seeing an increased energy level and engagement from our staff,” said Wendy Rohrbacker, VP, Human Resources and Administration.

In a recent Health Challenge, 25 employees lost a combined total of nearly 60 pounds.  Other Blue Zones- related changes the team has made at Pacific Crest include “encouraging all employees to get out of their chair every hour to stretch and move, and conduct walking or standing meetings,’ noted Rohrbacker. “We changed the options in the vending machines to encourage healthier snacking, we are in the process of preparing a space for an employee garden, and we have healthy choices potlucks.”

Massey points out that making conscious decisions to engage in a healthier lifestyle such as Blue Zones has been shown to drive volunteerism, community engagement and social responsibility.

“I believe credit unions exemplify socially responsible businesses,” he said.

On a bittersweet note, Pacific Crest FCU’s soon-to-retire CEO Kathie Philp announced it would be her final Chapter meeting. She encouraged employees of all credit unions to be involved in the community.

“Credit unions are an awesome way to build great relationships,” she noted. “This is your right tribe.”

Editor’s note: More information on how communities and businesses can obtain Blue Zones certification can be found here

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222, ehorvath@nwcua.org.

Posted in NWCUA.