By Kristina Jacobsen, cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, and singer-songwriter. Jacobsen is an associate professor of music and of anthropology (ethnology) at the University of New Mexico (UNM), her research interests focus on language, identity, and expressive culture.
Since a quarantine was imposed in parts of Italy on March 8 to stop the spread of COVID-19, I’ve been struck by the silence. In a place where people love to engage, touch, talk, and constantly debate, the lack of sound—especially of people’s voices—is eerie.
On the island of Sardinia, where I have lived since June*, the silence is palpable. It seems to weigh on the landscape.
On March 11, the policy of “shelter in place” went from being recommended to being mandatory. All bars, restaurants, cafés, and other “nonessential” businesses were closed until at least April 3.
From my open door in the seaside city of Cagliari, I see only occasional passersby, walking briskly and purposefully down the city’s main shopping street, dutifully clutching their autodichiarazione—papers that justify their reasons for leaving home.
In train cars, grocery stores, and pharmacies, the smell of bleach and hand sanitizer assaults the senses. Strikingly absent is the aroma of strong espresso, usually a ubiquitous part of the city’s olfactory landscape.
City squares are hosed down each night with large water tanks. Police officers patrol the roads. In a city known for its rich and fecund smells, its sensuous approach to life, and its vivid festivals, the streets feel sterile and empty.
But into this void of daily scents and sounds, a multitude of melodies has been born: balcony concerts, recordings, and in-home videos under the hashtags #flashmobsonoro, #iorestoacasa (“I’m staying home”), #lamusicanonsiferma (“the music doesn’t stop”), and #tuttoandràbene (“everything will be OK”).
These performances—original songs, covers, spontaneous performances, and humorous commentaries—are a sonic response to this government-imposed silence. Each of us is reaching out across the ether, from the solitude of our home to someone else in the solitude of their own home.
I came to Sardinia to study the Sardinian language, conduct anthropological fieldwork, and write and record an album with Sardinian songwriters. I was drawn to the intensity of social life on this island, its incredible culture of hospitality, and the profound appreciation people here have for music and sound.
In his song “Su Baballoti” (the cockroach), singer-songwriter Antonio Pani bemoans how the new coronavirus has crept into every corner of Italian social life. Antonio Pani
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended much of that research. But it’s also revealed new and important ways in which music echoes and amplifies the tensions that vibrate through Sardinian daily life. The songs emerging from the quarantine are a profound form of social commentary on Sardinian perspectives of power, relationships to the Italian mainland, and the ways the virus has rocked longstanding ideas of privilege and status between Italy’s north and south.
On March 12, a song arrived on one of the lively WhatsApp groups I am part of. It spoke eloquently of the connectedness of cultures. In the video, Antonio Pani plays an Irish bouzouki in a Sardinian style, wears an Oregon sweatshirt, and sings a Spanish-influenced tune reminiscent of the storytelling corrido ballads of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, where I lived and studied previously.
The style—cantu campidanesu—is a poetic form of song well-known on the island. The genre, called gòcius or gosos, is Iberian in origin, and harkens to a time when Sardinia was colonized by Spain from about 1325 to 1708. It is primarily religious, but in its secular form, a gòcius often satirizes a person or an issue of the day. They can also be songs of protection for people, the harvest, and livestock.
In the song—called “Su Baballoti,” or “the cockroach”—Pani uses the metaphor of a cockroach to convey how the novel coronavirus (sa corona) has crawled into every nook and cranny of everyday life. He references face masks and laments the suspension of kisses during greetings and goodbyes, and the absence of gestures like the brief brush of a hand on an arm to affirm connection.
It reminds me of the day before the lockdown, when I was sitting alone in an outdoor café. A man asked the people at a neighboring table for a light. As he held out his cigarette, his girlfriend reminded him, in Italian: “Respect the social distance of 1 meter.”
Pani plays with the word “corona,” which also means “crown” and symbolizes power. He addresses the novel coronavirus, singing in the southern version of the Sardinian language, Campidanese: “Even if you walk around with a crown / you will never be our king.”
“Even if you walk around with a crown / you will never be our king.”
He describes the powerful ways the pandemic has impacted Sardinia and the northern Italian region of Lombardy. “Italy is in torment,” he sings. “Sardinia has also been affected but not like Lombardia, which remains in our thoughts.”
Then he stares straight at the camera and earnestly sings: “Baballoti, get away from here. You will not win.”
Another song circulating is an example of Sardinia’s traditional cantu a tenòre style, which UNESCO designated an intangible cultural heritage. It imitates a type of rhythmic song that accompanies village dances and features four male voices singing a cappella in Sardinian-inflected Italian and low, guttural voices. The lead singer-songwriter is Sardinian comic and cabaret singer Giuseppe Masia, and his tone is both cheeky and deadly serious.
The song documents the 13,300 Italian northerners who fled to their second homes in Sardinia over the last two weeks, right before the borders of Veneto and Lombardy were cordoned off and declared “red zones.” Thirteen thousand is a number equivalent to all the visitors who come to Sardinia during the Italian vacation months of July and August.
The recent influx has, understandably, been the source of much consternation among Sardinians, who see these “northerners” as the main vectors for the virus.
Masia sings in a strident, nasal voice, with the three accompanying voices pulsating underneath his: “Coronavirus: When you can’t find a face mask anywhere (they were all purchased by Aunt Gavina) / and the people give you dirty looks when you breathe in public.” The song ends with Masia threatening, in a melodramatic style, to shoot any “Milanesi” (people from Milan and elsewhere in the north) he meets on the street.
The situation represents a bizarre reversal of a centuries-old dynamic in which poor southerners, including Sardinians, move to northern Italy for work. (Unemployment in Sardinia right now is over 30 percent.) Northerners have often treated southerners as “hicks,” or terroni (“people of the earth”). They have viewed them as symbolic vectors for poverty and lack of education, and as literal vectors for disease.
And in a perhaps unprecedented moment of reversal, this disease has hit communities of privilege first—in Italy but also elsewhere—and socially marginalized communities last.
On one hand, wealthy northerners recently arrived in Sardinia on ferries with their cars packed full of food, ready to hole up in their beach houses, and either unaware of their privilege or unconcerned that they might bring the disease to an island long perceived by mainlanders as remote and desolate. The Sardi (Sardinians) feel taken advantage of and exploited.
On the other hand, in their quickness to judge their northern neighbors, some Sardi are repeating the exact behavior visited upon them while living on the “continente.”
So, COVID-19 has created a moment of truth, when the tables are finally turned.
But many of these northerners are also Sardinians who live, study, and work in Milan and other industrial centers, send valuable stipends back home, and have claims to family, villages, and homes in Sardinia. So, the people Masia threatens to harm might be members of his extended family.
In a time when the enemy can potentially be anyone, the novel coronavirus is both dividing and dissolving our distinctions between “us” and “them.”
Italy is a place where there is no word for privacy. In Italian, people have to borrow the English word “privacy.” The constant kisses, touches, exclamations, and opinions can at times be overwhelming for newcomers.
But I have never longed for the sense of social overwhelm and intense human contact that I associate with Sardinia like I have during this quarantine.
On March 13, I took part in a #flashmobsonoro. Each participant was supposed to play songs from our balcony for 15 minutes, then post the video to Facebook.
I live in an underground apartment with no windows, so I performed from my doorway, with my dog at my feet. I played four original songs, three country songs in a mix of Sardinian and English, and one folk song in Norwegian. As my Sardinian language teacher taught me, in the chorus I sang:
“Nois tenimos sas istorias nostras / Lassat totu fora s’ajanna / Ca custu sero nudatteru nos importat / Finzas chi sa manu tua istringet sa mia”
(We all have our stories / Leave your troubles at the door / Because tonight nothing else matters / Long as my hand is in yours)
It was a breath of fresh air to play live music and to know others were doing the same, somewhere around the corner, across the island, or on the continent. When I finished my set, I looked up at a group of people who gathered to listen, the lit sign of the closed shop behind them glowing above their heads like a halo.
“Grazie,” I heard someone say. I couldn’t see who was speaking, so looked up to a fourth floor balcony. A man in his early 20s waved at me. “Grazie,” he said again. We made eye contact. “De nudda,” I responded in Sardinian. You’re welcome.
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(Naples, Italy): Quarantined Italians in the Casoria neighborhood in Southern Naples, sang across balconies last night in unison: “People like us will never give up. Come on, Come on, Come on. Strength, Italy! Strength, Naples! Come out on your balconies. We are all united. The virus that is facing us will not defeat us!” # 🎥: Courtesy of Susy Unica Silvestre. Los italianos que están bajo quarantine cantaron todos juntos desde su balcón “gente como nosotros nunca nos rendiremos. Vamos vamos vamos. Fuerza, Italia! Fuerza, Napoli! Salgan a sus balcones. Estamos unidos. El virus que nos enfrenta no nos vencerá!” # Leri será a Napoli le persone in quarantena hanno cantato dainloro balconi cantando che persona como loro non si arrenderanno mai. Il virus che ci sta di fronte non ci sconfiggerà.
Special thanks to ethnomusicologists Marco Lutzu, Diego Pani, Ignazio Cadeddu, and Bastianu Pilosu for their assistance in the translation and interpretation of the songs discussed; to musician Antonio Pani for permission to share his song “Su Baballoti”; and to Radio Limbara for their permission to reprint their meme here. Gratzias!
* Editor’s note: On the advice of the U.S. State Department, the author had to temporarily leave Italy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks for watching! Read all about Dan Buettner here 👉🏼http://bit.ly/richroll504
Back for his 3rd appearance on the podcast, Dan Buettner is a world record setting explorer, National Geographic Fellow, longevity expert and NY Times bestselling author of “The Blue Zones” and “The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100”.
Picking up right where we left off, this conversation dives even deeper into Blue Zones research, breaking down the factors that promote longevity and happiness.
Enjoy! ✌🏼🌱 –
Rich EPISODE 504 AUDIO PODCAST Blog & Show Notes: http://bit.ly/richroll504
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NEW TO ME? Hi I’m Rich Roll. I’m a vegan ultra-endurance athlete, author, podcaster, public speaker & wellness evangelist at large. But mainly I’m a dad of four. If you want to know more, visit my website or check out these two the NY Times articles: http://bit.ly/otillonyt http://bit.ly/vegansglam
What would happen if you centered your diet around vegetables, the most nutrient-dense food group?
Why do those eating plant-based diets live longer? There are all sorts of mechanisms I find fascinating:
- Methionine Restriction as a Life Extension Strategy
- Why Do We Age?
- Caloric Restriction vs. Animal Protein Restriction
- Turning the Clock Back 14 Years
- Longer Life Within Walking Distance
- Prevent Cancer from Going on TOR
- Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging?
- Telomeres: Cap It All Off with Diet
- Nuts May Help Prevent Death
- Increased Lifespan from Beans
- Fruits and Longevity: How Many Minutes per Mouthful?
And a couple of new ones: The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity and Does Intermittent Fasting Increase Human Life Expectancy?
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What’s The Downside To Eating A Little Bit Of Animal Products?
Brian Clement, Ph.D., Alan Goldhamer, D.C., Anna Maria Clement, Ph.D., Pamela Popper, N.D., Michael Klaper, M.D.
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Dear Community Champions,
I hope this email finds you well and Thriving!
As most of you know, The last few months have been very exciting here at Blue Zones with the release of Dan Buettner’s “Blue Zones Kitchen” which was the number 1 selling book on Amazon.com and on the NY Time best selling list for 8 weeks!
In addition, lots of new Blue Zones Projects and Blue Zones Activates starting around the country!
I wanted to share with you the media coverage over the last month per you area of interest being it research, Blue Zones Projects, Blue Zones Kitchen or Blue Zones Activate!
We look forward to continued conversations to bring these important collaborations to your community!
BLUE ZONES KITCHEN
BLUE ZONES BRANDS
BLUE ZONES PROJECTS / BLUE ZONES ACTIVATE
Food Over Medicine: The Conversation That Could Save Your Life
Overmedicated, overfed, and malnourished, most Americans fail to realize the answer to lower disease rates doesn’t lie in more pills but in the foods we eat.With so much misleading nutritional information regarded as common knowledge, from “everything in moderation” to “avoid carbs,” the average American is ill-equipped to recognize the deadly force of abundant, cheap, unhealthy food options that not only offer no nutritional benefits but actually bring on a disease.
In this lecture, Pamela A. Popper, Ph.D. ND, speaks about the dire state of American health—the result of poor nutrition choices stemming from food politics and medical misinformation. But, more important, she shares the key to getting and staying healthy for life.
Backed by numerous scientific studies, Pamela A. Popper, Ph.D., ND details how dietary choices either build health or destroy it.
Dan Buettner grew up in Minnesota during the 1960s, where he was fed a high-carb diet of bright yellow macaroni and cheese and sweaty red hot dogs wrapped inside flaky croissants.
“We didn’t know better,” he said.
But when the cyclist and storyteller started traveling around the globe, and into the homes of people in locations where elders routinely live to see their 100th birthday in good health — the world’s “Blue Zones,” as he calls them — he noticed something distinct about the ways that they were all eating.
The fare was nothing like his Midwestern childhood diet of processed foods, but Buettner noticed that each Blue Zone kitchen did have a few staple ingredients in common. Like his own meal plans, they were all fairly high in carbohydrates, but these Blue Zone diets centered on carbs of a different kind.
“The four pillars of every longevity diet in the world are whole grains, greens, nuts, and beans,” Buettner said. “When you crunch the numbers, it’s very clear that it’s a 90% to 100% plant-based, very-high-carbohydrate diet. About 65% carbs, but not simple carbs like muffins and cakes — complex carbs.”
Buettner’s chronicled some of his favorite recipes from each of those regions in a new Blue Zones cookbook, featuring dishes from Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.
People who live to 100 tend to eat lots of beans
Whether the cuisine is from the sandy western shores of Costa Rica or industrial church kitchens in California, it is loaded with beans.
“You can get very successful with a diet if you tell people they can eat what they like to eat — meat or cheese or eggs and all that,” he said. “I draw from people who’ve achieved the health outcomes we want. And I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re eating about a cup of beans a day.”
His favorite bean dish is a Greek “longevity stew,” loaded with fennel, black-eyed peas, olive oil, tomato, and garlic.
The diet plan lines up with much of the scientific research suggesting that people who eat more vegetables and other plants while consuming little to no processed or red meat are less likely to die earlier (and more likely to have healthier hearts) than people who routinely fuel up on animal products.
Blue Zoners don’t go to the gym, and they rarely eat meat
In the Blue Zones, there are no banned foods. Instead, the environments people live in promote their good health almost effortlessly. There’s no weighing ingredients or worrying about the amounts of carbs, protein, and fat to include in a day’s meals.
Yet there are certain things that people in Blue Zones don’t eat very often. Chief among the rarities are dishes high in saturated fats and sugars, including meats, dairy, and desserts.
On average, people living in the Blue Zones eat meat about five times a month. It’s usually a three- to four-ounce cut of pork, smaller than an iPhone.
When it comes to bread, Blue Zoners tend to favor fermented varieties like sourdough over plain white yeasted slices, and they pair small amounts of pasta and grains with other staple ingredients like fresh greens or beans.
“When you combine a grain and a bean, you get a whole protein,” Buettner said. This means that, much like any meaty dish, a plant-based meal can feature all the essential amino acids that help the body grow and repair itself, but “without the saturated fat, without the hormones,” he said.
In addition to focusing on plant-based foods, people in the Blue Zones also tend to cherish the importance of lifelong friendships, move around consistently each day (every 20 minutes or so), and live with purpose. These built-in support systems are key components of longevity too, Buettner believes, and just as important as the good food.
“We keep beating this dead horse of diets and exercise and supplements,” he said. “It’s Einstein’s definition of insanity.”
If you’d like to try the Blue Zones eating routine, Buettner suggests finding a few plant-based recipes that you really like and making it a habit to cook them for yourself again and again. None of the recipes in his book include any meat or eggs, and most shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to prepare.
“The secret to eating for 100 is to find the plant-based foods heavy with beans and grains and vegetables, and learn how to like them,” Buettner said. “If you eat a Blue Zones diet religiously, it’s probably worth eight to 10 extra years of life expectancy over a standard American diet. You take those years and you average them back into your life? It gives you about two hours a day to cook.”
Our Promise: Less than 30 minutes to assemble, Taste tested by experts and Follow the Blue Zones Guidelines for longevity.
More here! https://www.bluezones.com/recipes/
|Dear Community Champion, |
A few of you responded to my last email and let me know the link I provided didn’t work. Thank you for that! Please find the correct link here:
I feel this video, although a bit long, is the best one I’ve seen put out over the last 10 years. The video walks through why the sponsor decided to bring this collaboration to the community and their employers. It walks through each sector of work, People, Places, and Policies, and describes project activities, buy-in and results. In the end, I believe you will walk away with a better understanding of what we do during a project, how these projects are community led, and envision what such a project might look like in your community.
I look forward to continued conversations on how we can bring this important work to your community!
Let’s do this in Little Rock!