Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Establishing a Community of Outliers

So here we go, starting another of round of reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Gladwell somehow manages to transform a large body of facts and information into coherent and compelling narratives and thus makes his books accessible and alluring.

Gladwell opens his book with a narrative about this small, fascinating town Roseto, Pennsylvania, where residents seemed to have an unusual predisposition for health. During the 1950s, hardly anyone under age sixty-five had heart disease in Roseto, even though heart attacks “were an epidemic in the United States” and “the leading cause of death in men under the age of sixty-five.”

According to Gladwell, the citizens of Roseto had “created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world. The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.”

Given our interests in establishing a stronger, more vibrant intellectual community, we’re curious about what stood out to you as the Rosetans’ most fascinating habits or ways of life and why?

Or, what new approach—-based on the old ways of Roseto-—might we take in order to establish our own extraordinarily healthy intellectual or academic community?

Additional Readings
• February 9: Accumulative Advantages of Outliers 
• February 16: Outliers' 10,000 Hour Rule
• February 23: The Trouble with Outliers, Part 1
• March 2: Practical Intelligence and Outliers
• March 16: Meaningful Work and Outliers 
• March 23: The Lessons of Outliers, Pt. 1
• March 30: On Cultural Legacies and Outliers
• April 6: PDI and Outliers
• April 13: Rice Paddies and Outliers
• April 20: Bargains and Outliers 
• April  27: Race and Outliers 
• April 29: Opportunities, Barriers, and Outliers  

28 comments:

Amy Crabtree said...

Regarding how the Rosetans lived, what I find most interesting is their health was based on how they interacted with their community rather than their own needs. The author tells us how Wolf discovered that these people did not do extra workouts, eat healthy by any means, or take any medication. These people stayed healthier longer because of how they surrounded themselves.
They took pride in their work and their home, their neighbors and friends. To me that is truly important, because with out those things what kind of life do we really have?

Sherrie Jayne said...

I think how the Rosetans lived is an interesting model as well. We live in a culture now full of self improvements and research is always finding things that inhibit a healthy way of life. Something so simple as how you surround yourself could prolong your life. Maybe sometimes we're too busy looking into all the specifics instead of focusing on the most simple and basic needs.

Ashley Jeffers said...

I personally found the way that the Rosetans had three generations of family residing under the same roof to be intriguing. I cannot imagine having that much family under one roof without controversy and constant bickering.
I agree with the way that the Rosetans had an immense amount of respect for the elderly and made efforts to show hospitality to others in their community. I think that if Americans were to love their brothers more like the Rosetans, there would be much less stress, thus a more healthy community, even if only slightly.

Kim said...

It is not hard to believe that the Rosetans had such a low rate of heart attacks, especially since they worked hard and have such a strong community. What I am really interested in is whether or not strong family ties have any correlation to their work ethic?

H. Rambsy said...

Good point Kim. I'm wondering too what closeness to family might mean for how folks perform professionally or academically.

Phillip Leatherman said...

Just color me "Johnny come lately". Until now I had never heard of this author or his body of work. Two previous international best-sellers, impressive to say the least.
I personally, think the underlying theme in the introduction is the ability of a group of people (the family) with common interest(the family bond) to come together for the purpose of working toward a primary goal. This goals seems to be in alignment with that of other families in the town, such that all seem to be working for the betterment of the collective (the town). As a result the individuals seem to benefit physically, socially and I'm willing to bet financially as well...

Cristina Salabao said...

It's crazy that their lifestyles were like so many of ours now, but they lived longer, seemed happier, and worked to build a community much better than ours now in many ways. My faith teaches me that community is high on the list of things that keep our lives going. Community is essential and integral in the quality of life... the intro about the Rosetans reinforced that. I look forward to reading the rest of the book, I got a little carried away and read about half of it in one sitting.

Sheleia Phillips said...

Two things stood out to me the most from the reading. First, the Rosetans did extraordinary things despite their circumstances. In the book it explains how they were barely literate, poor, and didn't have much hope. But yet they still took advantage of the opportunity the New World had to offer. As time passed, over some twelve hundred Rosetans abandoned their native country and established their own community in Pennsylvania. To achieve a better community, hope must be part of moving forward to better opportunities. A community is a place where people of common interest live and work together. Second, once the Rosetans got settled in their new community they developed their own social norms and ways of living. A result of the Rosetans all being on the same page was good health. I'm glad that the book pointed out that an individual's surroundings and values have great influence on their well being as well as their identity.

Carrington Pool said...

I agree with Amy very much. When I was reading, I was very amazed at how these people were living their lives, but more amazed at how they managed to stay healthy. People always say keep friends and family close, it keeps you younger. Maybe this is a prime example of that?

DINO ANAGBOGU said...

I have to Agree with Kim at first it did surprise me that their community had a low heart attack rate. But if we were to work anywhere near as hard as they worked at that time we wouldn't have to worry about health conditions as well. With all this new technology we have become more lazy. The Rosetans loved to work and they took pride in a hard days work. It seemed like looked at what was more important like family and not worrying about the small artificial things that we may sometimes think are our most biggest problems.
-Dino Anagbogu

Anonymous said...

Christian Bias said, The Rosetans way of life was extremely interesting becasue sometimes we forget the little things life make a significant difference. Not only do we need food, shelter, and water to survive I think the most misunderstood necessity for survival and health is social interaction. Its also interesting to read about the Rosetans because when we eat dinner now days and things of things of that nature we don't sit at the table, socialize, value family time like we use to;we are so independent and I think that we have suffered some pretty impacting consequences from that.

Theresa Long said...

I really enjoyed reading about the people of Roseto. I found the way they came to this country and created their own world together truly remarkable. Family has always been important to me. To see how vital family was to the people of Roseto is encouraging. While living a healthy lifestyle is very important to good health and wellness, this story shows us that who we surround ourselves with and the way we go about working plays an integral part in our overall well-being.

Theresa Long said...

I agree with what Ashley said about the Rosetan's respect for their elders. I feel that in the past, elders were more respected by most cultures; however, it seems that respect for elders has diminished over the years. I believe that no matter how much our world advances, we can glean much from our elders! I also liked what Cristina said about her faith and how important community can be.

Dometi said...

What stood out to me the most about this was the fact that there was a study performed that could conclude this fact definitively. I've always believed that a tight family structure, work ethic, and community-style living was "good for the soul" but to hear it from a scientific point of view is really something else.

The same thing works in African communities today (Both of my grandmothers lived for over 100 years). I wonder what this may mean for African-American communities?

What if we added in a coveted book store or library in these communities...One that was actually utilized frequently. Such a community would be the grounds for fruitful intellectual discussions, ideas, and inventions.

And like Christian said, all of this could take place at the dinner table.

Jasmine Coleman said...

The Rosetans had unique values and embraced their culture and community. As an American, I feel this country lacks the type of love and connection that was present in the Rosetan community. Every one is always preaching about health, diets, and exercise. However, we do not stop and think about the other aspects of life that could contribute or take away from living long and fulfilling lives.

Kimber said...

I agree with everyone that Roseto's idea of the community and great work ethics stimulates their lack of heart disease. Their values are vastly different than how we act in America; we care about materialistic things and how to better ourselves (individual), while Roseto cares about their family and being an honorable person (community).

We go to school, hang out with friends, get involved; but are we truly happy? We put on these faces but most of us have high expectations that involve stress, financial hardship, and hardwork. Our bodies undergo stress that Roseto may not have had to deal with. I am curious to know what they have to go through academically (obviously their expectations from the community prove to be minor compared to our current society).

Megan Dennis said...

Everyone has made very good points. Like many have noted before, America has adopted a culture that only focuses on the external matters like body image or specific aspects such as how much exercise a person should get. We fail to contribute physical health to our overall psychological and mental health. Sometimes, like the Rosetans, we need to stop and smell the roses. Life's stressors are not going to go anywhere. It is up to us to make the time to be thankful for who we are, what we have, and who is important in our lives in the midst of everything else.

Megan Dennis said...

One other thing I noticed was that Dr. Wolf even compared the health/well-being of the Pennsylvanian Rosetans to the Italian Rosetans and how the Pennsylvanian Rosetans were healthier despite the deviation they took as far as diet and other things from their Italian counterparts. To me, this showed that it is possible to rise above the current situation you are in that may be less than favorable, and, by surrounding yourself with people that have the same positive goals, you can make things work out for the better. It all starts with the mindset you create for yourself as to where you will end up.

justin church said...

I believe that the reason why the Rosetans were a healthy community was because of simply just that. If we all learn to become familiar with one another and befriend each other our minds are more at ease. Worrying about what the rest of the world thinks of us just causes our bodies to deteriorate and health problems to arise.

Elizabeth Flores said...

After reading the introduction, I was amazed at the way the Rosetans lived. It almost seems to good to be true. Having a life where there is no violence, no drug addiction, and no alcoholism. Having a sense of great pride for ones background, and having so much love in a community. I am inspired by the thought of having a community like this. If our country were able to do half of these things, we would be a happier, more peaceful country.

Chico Weber said...

I was really amazed at how simple their lives were and yet they managed to live as old as they did with the risk of heart disease being as low as it was. I guess the Rosetans are proof that life in good company beats the best health care.
Modern society brings with it technological advances and materialistic comforts, but what we really need is to live comfortably with a good set of friends.

Tyann Senaldi said...

The most interesting thing I found when I read about the Rosetans was that even though the rate of obesity and smoking was high, their heart disease was STILL love. Usually these things contribute to heart disease, but because of the way the Rosetans lived, so closed off, they withstood science. I think the basic reason why this was so is because they didn't have much contact with the outside world. Maybe if we focused more locally we could improve our own health.

Mitchell Martineau said...

Agreed, when you look at a modern person's life they are bombarded with many different kinds of stress, which eventually they become numb to; generally used to. The Rosetans lifestyle seemed simplistic, yet so unique and complex, a network of relationships between various households and people in the community, drawing them together and creating something special. Because of modern constraints, this is something that is vary rare.

Eric said...

What stood out to me about the way the Rosetans lived was their sense of community and how that had a very positive effect on thier health. I knew that living in a close knit supportive community could increase the quality of life, but i never thought it would actuallyincrease the quantity as well.
The lesson to be learned is that supportive close knit societies lead to healthier happier people. We should strive to become involved and active in our communities to help make life better for us and those around us.

Lawandria said...

The thing that stood out to me was the Rosetans method of living and how that brought about prosperity. They were a tight knit culture that didn't flaunt wealth nor did they disclose others failures. The Rosetans had respect for everyone which goes a long way towards helping those who are less fortunate become fortunate. None of the Rosetans were dying of anything other than old age because they were appreciated members of their society which aided them in living out lives of pleasure as opposed to lives of despair. Civility is so important in life because it helps to cultivate a well bred flourishing society. We need more civility in our lives today.

Kim Lee said...

I think this emphasizes how much more group mentality was important then it is in our society. Today, it is about working to get yourself, no one else, ahead of the game. There is so much more downplay on working together as a community and more stress on the idea of moving up the ladder in society.

Adriana Romo said...

I agree that keeping family and friends close to you can indeed help you continue to be healthy. With our society bringing upon more stress on the individual, it is necessary for a person to have someone else that they can go to and get help from. That is basically what friends and family are for. They are with you in good times, but also help you get through the tough times.
I also agree with the previous comments about the need to continue respecting our elders. Many kids and young adults today act as if the elderly are a burden to have to take care of etc. Unfortunately, they do not stop and think to realize that if it wasn't for these people, we would not be here. Thanks to the elderly, we are who we are and we owe them many thanks. It is necessary to respect them in our families and society: today, tomorrow, and always.
Respecting our elders and keeping close to our families and friends will definitely improve the physical and psychological health of many people and society, too.

Catalina Trevino said...

I believe that the Rosetan's ways of life should be practiced throughout the world. Besides the fact t hat American's all over the nation eat unhealthy and don't treat their bodies right, the stress they go through completely wears out their bodies. Also, having close family is always a good factor when it comes to stress or mental breakdowns. Since the Rosetan's were so close, they always had someone to turn to in a time in need. Not every American can say that. Many stray away from their families and must cope with their problems alone.