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Mid-week Connect 11/18/20 - Cross-cultural Zoning

Greetings and Happy Midweek! I’ve been thinking lately about the practice of defining certain places as "zones", and how that plays out cross-culturally in different contexts. Creating specific zones can be helpful or destructive, depending on many factors and interests including the cultural considerations. I personally ran (quite unaware) into an unhelpful zoning situation during my most recent trip to Senegal, when I realized (after the fact) that I had spent 3 days traveling and visiting in a ‘red zone’ area, which indicated high risk due to political unrest and potential violence. This was in the rural area where I lived for a decade (1984-1994) among the Jola people with whom I was working on language community development. Although there had been since then a long history of civil unrest and zoning precautions ( , my (ultimately, I found out, mistaken) understanding was that the region had been re-zoned allowing for safe travel. Currently although economically depressed, the region is enjoying a peaceful period socio-culturally with more freedom of movement following a deescalation of local unrest (for the most part) alongside the arrival of innovative community building projects. However, due apparently to complex higher level political issues, the region was being kept as a red zone, intentionally blocking investment and development. Much to my hope is that these disagreements can soon be sorted out, solutions for underlying issues which do lead to unrest can be collaboratively explored and the region can be rezoned and reopened. To finish this moment together with a more positive example of cross-culture zones...are you familiar with “Blue Zones”? This is a fascinating global movement which started over 25 years ago ( ) with a search for the regions of the world where people live the longest. The resulting so-called “blue zones” were identified and numerous projects have evolved based on lifestyle and cultural practices of people in these regions. Blue Zone characteristics ( are being codified and creatively adopted by individuals and communities world-wide. There are lots of cross-cultural Blue Zone resources online if you are interested (including programs for education and for personal wellness How about you? What kind of cross-cultural zoning have you run into (positive or negative, or evolving…) which is impacting your life and work? I’d encourage you to reflect on this and share about that here or with a friend. Until next week! Betsy Global SKILLs LINKs One example of how an area near where I lived in Florida has embraced Blue Zone perspectives and dynamics: An inspiring story about how designating political/electoral zones (called red-lining), and other discriminatory practices, are being overcome in some places in the US, slowly - gradually: 2020 - Celebrating Global SKIlls 10th Anniversary Connecting, Collaborating, Cultivating Community

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