It is self-evident that a community of healthy, economically stable, and happy people can withstand the onslaught of a pandemic better than a group of sick and sad people. (Dr. Allen Weiss, Blue Zones)
We know from anecdotal evidence that people in ecovillages, cohousing neighborhoods, and other intentional communities live longer, happier, and more meaningful lives. Increasingly, though, there is concrete scientific evidence that some environments are better for our health than others.
A recent article by Dr. Allen Weiss in Blue Zones points out that some people and places are more susceptible to the coronavirus while others are much less so. In particular, Dr. Weiss argues that our ability to withstand pandemics has more to do with social determinants of health (“SDOH”) than with genetics.
Join us online on May 24 to learn more about how ecovillagers are coping with COVID-19:
Please note that this is not our regular Zoom meeting room. You must be registered to attend the event (limited to 100 participants).
In “Why COVID-19 Hits Some People and Places Differently,” Dr. Weiss writes:
The often-used warning in prevention literature, “Your ZIP code is more important than your genetic code,” suggests genetics are not primarily responsible for COVID-19 susceptibility… [evidence suggests] social determinants of health (SDOH) are key identifiers of vulnerable populations.
In an important 2002 paper entitled “The Case for More Active Attention to Health Promotion,” Dr. Michael McGinnis defined the SDOH. After years of research, he believed that genetics account for 30% of health and wellness, with the SDOH responsible for 70%.
That 70% further divides into four subcategories: 15% for social circumstances such as income and education; 5% for environment, 10% for medical care, and 40% for lifestyle choices. By addressing the 70% non-genetic factors for health and wellness, communities and individuals can improve their health status.
Dr. Weiss concludes that “Improving the [social determinants of health] may be the single best strategy for pandemic threat mitigation.”
Our event on May 24 will focus on the topic of how cohousing and ecovillages are surviving the pandemic… what’s possible, what’s feasible, and what the future holds for eco-communities in the post-COVID-19 world.
In the meantime, though, we (Victoria and Jonathan) would like to invite one or more “aspiring cohousers” to share our house and experience community living as we transition into an ecovillage somewhere in Central Jersey or Eastern Pennsylvania. (See more details here.)
We’re also planning to offer a webinar on turning your home into an eco-community, as we are doing. (If this interests you, please let us know.)
And here are some of the larger questions that we plan to consider on May 24:
- What does the pandemic show us about the state of our global civilization?
- What trends will emerge from this period that can lead to greater sustainability?
- How will individuals and communities adapt, recover, and ultimately thrive?
Janette Sadik-Khan, former head of NYC’s Department of Transportation and now a philanthropic consultant to cities, notes that Milan, for example, is converting more streets to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and that many cities will seek to become greener and more open. In other ways as well, this pandemic represents a “once in a lifetime opportunity to reset” the way we live together, work and collaborate with each other, educate our children, and build our homes.
We invite you to think and discuss the kinds of neighborhoods and communities you would ideally choose to live in, and what you can envision for yourself and for society, and bring your ideas and experiences to the conversation.
 “Blue Zones” are places where “the world’s longest-lived cultures and most extraordinary populations” show us how to help people live longer, better lives by improving their environment.