top of page

Dr. Lisa's Corner: Earth Day Editorial

by Dr. Lisa Merritt, M.D.

Executive Founder of the Multicultural Health Institute

Spring is such a lovely time of renewal and hope. It is so relaxing to plant, prune, water, and tend my gardens. I am grateful to family who taught me to revere and protect the natural world, as well as maintain long standing traditions from our diasporic roots that include principles of “Blue Zone” living. Blue Zones are geographic areas where the average populations live 9 or more decades of primarily healthy, happy lives. Although this Blue Zone concept is new, indigenous people have known and practiced these principles for a long time. For example, my great grandmothers lived to 98 and 105 respectively, however the lifespans of their children and grandchildren, like too many people of color, were shortened by complex chronic conditions and stressful lifestyles associated with modern Western life. The lifestyles of people in Blue Zones and my own great grandmothers include regular physical activity, healthy, plant-emphasized, high-fiber, fermented-products diets, regular practice of spiritual connection, strong social bonds while living with a sense of purpose and regular interaction with clean, peaceful natural surroundings.

So what changed between my great grandmothers and succeeding generations? The latest stage of human evolution, from the Industrial Revolution to deployment of nuclear warheads, has left profound changes to the land, water, atmosphere and resulted in the collapse or extinction of numerous species. These impacts have accelerated over the last 60 years with substantial Carbon Dioxide emissions, global warming, ocean acidification, habitat destruction and wide scale natural resource extraction, all significantly modifying our world. Some dub it the “Anthropocene” era.

We can learn from prior Blue Zone evidence of ancient cultures who lived in balance in our lands, like this amazing settlement from 800 years ago at Wupatki in Northern Arizona, long before decimation by “explorers.”

As we seek to re-instill balance, we welcome you to our continued co-creative Blue Zone awareness effort with our 2023 Environmental Awareness series. This is the intergenerational culmination of decades of study, assessments and educational efforts to improve health and wellness. In 2021 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of MHI with continued effort to co-create and manifest Blue Zones through health and wellness programming, care coordination, navigation and STEAMH pipeline expansion. Our work has always centered on replicating this way of life.

Our local efforts have helped facilitate awareness and clean-up of current sites like the beloved Robert L Taylor Center, Myrtle Avenue corridor, Whittaker Bayou and we anticipate close involvement of the Environmental collaborative in the pending development of the Marian Anderson Brownfield, another area under scrutiny for many years.

I dedicate our Earth Day Series to many friends & family members who have battled or made premature transitions due to cancer and other environmentally-impacted conditions. This includes my beloved daughter, Amara, who has spent half her life contending with an extremely rare, insidious form of Lung Cancer. Everyone deserves a healthy, happy life. Good stewardship of the planet will help us get there. We welcome you to join this most important conversation-where are we now, and where are we going? Join us, plant the seeds which will blossom and yield great fruits for tomorrow’s generations to come.

Thank you to our many supporters and collaborators.

31 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page