Friday, June 26, 2009

The Story of Roseto: Beyond the Individual

By Kara Turcotte, LOT Student, Vancouver Board of Trade

 “…the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.” -Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

The story of Roseto, Pennsylvania, told by Malcolm Gladwell in his best-seller Outliers, demonstrates how civic engagement leads to healthier, more fulfilled lives. Immigrants from Roseto, Italy settled in the foothills of Eastern Pennsylvania during the late 19th century. With twenty-two different civic organizations in a town of less than two thousand, Rosetans kept up their tradition of maintaining a strong, protective social structure.

Rosetans under fifty-five very rarely died from a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease, and  men over sixty-five had a heart disease death rate half of that of the rest of the United States. With diet and exercise habits no different than surrounding immigrant towns, researchers found no explanation other than “Roseto itself” with its resilient culture that looked beyond the individual.

Involvement in the community and a strong social network greatly improves the health and happiness of individuals.  A balance of “self-interest and caring for others,” as emphasised by Sue Paish, Incoming Chair, Vancouver Board of Trade, at the Community and Corporate Citizenship Event on April 7th, leads to a more engaged and actively involved community. The principles behind the Rix Center for Corporate Citizenship & Engaged Leadership are to foster these skills in business leaders, and to surround the community with dedicated and thoughtful members of society.

Long-run success in life and business is enhanced by engaging in the community, as well as looking after ourselves and our families. It’s what neurobiologist Matt Ridley calls, “self-interest for the common good.” 

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1 comment:

kacob said...

Now the question arises: what constitutes 'community involvement'?