Blue Zones Activate Barry County Extended for Two More Years


Barry County, MI, and Minneapolis, MN, November 8, 2022—Blue Zones and the Barry Community Foundation are pleased to announce the extension of Blue Zones Activate in Barry County for two more years.

Blue Zones uses scientifically proven lessons of longevity, health, and happiness to boost the well-being of entire communities. The company’s work is based on research and principles developed by Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author, who identified the cultures of the world—or blue zones —with the healthiest, longest-living populations.

Blue Zones focuses on the single largest determinant of our health: the place we live. By focusing on the places where people live, work, learn, and play, Blue Zones has been able to help communities move the needle in improving overall population health and reducing healthcare costs. The innovative strategy is built on the foundation of improving food and built environment policies that improve population health and reduce health disparities.

After serving three years as the Blue Zones Activate Executive Director, Allison Troyer Wiswell will transition to a new position on the Blue Zones national team as an account executive; in her new role, she will be actively involved with the work in Barry County as well as in other communities around the country. Catherine Getty has been chosen as the new Executive Director of Blue Zones Activate Barry County. Getty formerly served as the Planning and Zoning Administrator for Thornapple Townships, was a Barry County Commissioner, and has been involved in the Blue Zones work over the past three years. Rachel Walsh, a landscape architect currently pursuing her Master of Public Health, will serve as the community coordinator and project manager.

Rachel Walsh (L); Catherine Getty (C); Allison Troyer Wiswell (R)

The team is well-positioned to capitalize on the success of the work already accomplished including the development of the countywide trail plan and the advancement of a community food center for Barry County. The initiative is funded by public and private sponsors aligned under the shared goal of advancing the well-being and quality of life for everyone in the region.

“I am so excited to see this powerful work continue to unfold and help to set up our environments and access towards creating a healthy, vibrant community where people love to live, work, and play. I believe Catherine is going to be an amazing leader for this work and I’m so thrilled to welcome her into the position,” said Allison Troyer Wiswell.

By optimizing the places where people spend most of their time, Blue Zones helps communities create environments where healthy choices are easier and accessible to everyone. As a result, people can live better and longer, and communities can lower healthcare costs, improve productivity, and boost their city’s national recognition as a great place to live, work, learn, and play. Blue Zones Activate focuses on optimizing food policy and built environment policy, which have lasting, sustainable impacts on current and future generations.

“I am very pleased to join the Barry County Blue Zones team in my new leadership role. I love our county and cannot wait to continue the great work that has been accomplished so far. Post-pandemic, we are all especially looking forward to in-person community events and activities,” commented Catherine Getty.

For more information on Blue Zones Activate or to learn how to get involved, visit