Is Santa Fe a "Wisdom Zone?"
MEA faculty member Dan Buettner popularized the idea of “Blue Zones,” where nine attributes in the culture create the longest-living people. But what if certain places in the world represented “Wisdom Zones,” where a constellation of influences creates a deeper and wiser culture?
Certainly, Athens was a wisdom capital, with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. And, yes, there are knowledge capitals like Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Cambridge, UK, but I’m talking about a place that isn’t just heady.
All of which brings me to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Why do I think Santa Fe deserves to be considered a modern-day Wisdom Zone? Here are a few reasons:
1. A long history of indigenous wisdom is baked into the place, influencing everything from agriculture to architecture to cultural rituals and traditions.
2. St. John’s College, with its well-respected Great Books curriculum, focused on wisdom, is located next door to what will be our MEA Sunmount campus.
3. Santa Fe has long attracted wisdom-seekers and wisdom-keepers—artistically, intellectually, and spiritually. It is a place where people look underneath the surface of life.
4. Los Alamos County, next door to Santa Fe, has twice as many PhDs per capita (17.7% of the population) as the second highest county in the U.S. And, yes, you’re right, smart doesn’t necessarily mean wise. Still, imagine living in a place where nearly 1 in 5 residents have a doctorate.
5. Various institutes, from the Santa Fe Institute to the Academy for the Love of Learning to the School for Advanced Research, are focused on lineage and long-term essential questions.
6. Santa Fe has a strong sense of community and active civic engagement. It’s less of an individualistic culture than most of the U.S. If wisdom isn’t taught but shared, this collaborative culture may offer a substantial community benefit. It’s part of what attracts so many retirees and why it’s often called “Santa Grey.”
7. And, now, MEA has a “Wisdom Booth” (featuring local wise folks) at public events. Thanks to my co-founder Christine Sperber and team for getting this off the ground.
What other places in the world would you consider a modern-day Wisdom Zone?