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A Conversation with Refresh Your Soul 2020 Keynote Speaker Nick Buettner, Key Researcher for The Blue Zones

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NOTE: Though the 2020 Refresh Your Soul conference was canceled, Episcopal Retirement Services and Parish Health Ministry have received fantastic support! Thank you for encouraging us and our efforts to safeguard the health of the community. We are grateful to our sponsors, donors & volunteers.

Blue Zone key researcher Nick Buettner sat down with us to answer some questions about what we can learn from the people who live better, longer.

ERS: If you could, please tell us: how are you going to help us refresh our souls?

BUETTNER:  I'm going to do a few things. The research that I have done, with my brother Dan, for about 10 years, is finding places around the world where people have lived the longest. Using National Geographic slides, I'm going to tell personal stories, about people that I have met from around the world, and the things they are doing. How they all came together to create better health, health that we here in America can emulate, or, would love to have. I will follow that up with the commonalities they all had. I’ll try to break down how we can we bring this to our communities? How do we bring this to our homes, so that we, too, can be a Blue Zone.


ERS: Are The Blue Zones just you and your brother Dan? I see another Buettner, Tony, who is involved. How long have the brothers been doing this together? And, what’s it like running a family business?

BUETTNER: Dan is older than me. I'm 52, so me and my brother have been together for 52 years. But working together? That's been off and on, probably since 1990. My brother Dan and myself did the research. My brother Tony came on-board in 2010, and he is also a National Spokesperson, as well as Vice President of Business Development. We get along pretty well. I have worked with Dan forever, and the work we both do is really mission-driven, which makes it easy. As brothers, the way we were raised, we know how to talk to each other, and how to overcome conflict. We do a pretty good job just by being honest. We don't have to be passive-aggressive, we just say what's on our mind. As brothers, that sometimes means locking ourselves in a room, and the first one out wins (lol).


ERS: Blue Zones are based in Minneapolis. Is that your hometown, and how did it
shape your life?

BUETTNER: Born and raised. I went to a liberal arts college here in Minneapolis called Augsburg University, I am little bit different than most…my background is. My brother Dan has three Guinness Book of World Records for long-distance cycling. I went on one of them, got malaria, and did not have a good time, but what it created was a love of travel. So, I was talking to Dan, about the cycling and the world records, and we said to ourselves, ‘What people really want is knowledge, and how can we bring it back to America?’ We ended up starting a business called Quest, traveling with a writer and videographer, taking photographs and writing reports. I ended up learning – simply learning about people and their lives – on about 20 expeditions like that around the world, both with  The Blue Zones, and I have also done a couple trade pieces with our Governor in Minnesota, including Jessie Ventura.


ERS: How will you adapt your message to the Refresh Your Soul audience, healthcare professionals, people who strive to live a healthy lifestyle, and every type of caregiver?

BUETTNER: These are very broad messages I will be putting out there, and one of them is around family. These are all different regions we have been to. At their core socially, their community, The Blue Zones are always surrounded by love, no matter the age of the residents. They have their love circles, whether the circle is comprised of friends, or another supportive community. My purpose is to talk about that. I will also talk about faith in the Blue Zone communities. Most of the people we met in The Blue Zones, particularly the centenarians, have a strong sense of faith. It's how you come together as a community to really try to drive your health. According to research, if your three best friends are unhappy, or drink too much, or smoke, you do, as well. So, I’ll share how to create really thoughtful social networks in your community, ones that break down isolation. We will explore how to bring together people around healthy activities.


ERS: We are looking forward to hearing more on March 16, 2020!

BUETTNER: Thank you, it will be only my second trip to Cincinnati, but I’m looking forward to that day too.

RYS-Nick-Buettner Final


Kristin Davenport
February 05, 2020
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director in Cincinnati. Kristin is passionate about making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city. She is a Lead SAIDO Learning Supporter and a member of the ‘Refresh Your Soul’ conference planning team at ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex, live in Lebanon, Ohio with their 2 daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon.

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