Henrico has H.E.A.R.T. this Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual event celebrated since 1970 to promote environmental protection. Henrico County has a long history of environmental stewardship and has recently strengthened that commitment by creating Henrico’s Environmental Action Resource Team (H.E.A.R.T.). H.E.A.R.T. is a robust committee of county employees representing many different departments. The committee is focused on identifying sustainability initiatives and goals to improve county operations in the areas of green space and recreation, energy resources and conservation, water, mobility and active transportation, and education and outreach. Cari Tretina and Steve Yob are leading the H.E.A.R.T. effort, which will soon expand to involve representatives of the Henrico community, including a youth council.  

Henrico County will celebrate Earth Day this year with a public festival at Deep Run Park on Saturday, April 22nd, from 10 AM – 1 PM, hosted by Recreation & Parks and Keep Henrico Beautiful. The event will feature live music, food trucks, and activities such as face painting, seed planting, a sensory-friendly activity tent, and a vendor fair. County departments, local environmental groups, and business vendors will share information on energy efficiency, recycling, residential solar, air quality, native plants, and more. In addition, Tech For Troops will be collecting retired technology and refurbishing it to help veterans in need. A list of equipment they accept can be found at https://techfortroops.org/support/equipment-donations/. Go green by recycling your old technology to help a veteran.

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Living Longer- the Blue Zone Mentality

According to world Blue Zone research, the longest-living people on earth eat a fiber-rich diet and rely on locally grown fruits and vegetables. What began as a National Geographic expedition to uncover the secrets of longevity evolved into discovering the five places around the world where people consistently live over 100 years old, dubbed the Blue Zones. Subsequent studies indicate only about 20% of how long the average person lives is dictated by our genes, whereas our lifestyle dictates the other 80%. National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging researchers found the five demographically confirmed, geographically defined areas with the highest percentage of centenarians – Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan. Besides having a large percentage of people that live to 100, the aging population also remains active well into their 80s and 90s and typically does not suffer the degenerative diseases common in most of the industrialized world.

The top lessons from the world’s Blue Zones on living a long, healthy life are to move naturally, have a purpose, be in the right tribe, and eat wisely. Moving naturally throughout the day – walking, gardening, doing housework – is a core part of the Blue Zones. Knowing why you wake up in the morning makes you healthier and happier and adds up to seven years of extra life expectancy. The Okinawans call it ikigai (pronounced e-key-guy) and the Nicoyans can it plan de vida. In the United States, the common term is purpose – to have intention. Finding your tribe supports human nature to search for belonging by looking for people who share commonalities or possess the traits we aspire to adopt. The world’s longest-lived people have close friends and strong social networks. The last lesson, eat wisely, combines attitudes toward food and consumption behaviors. People living in the Blue Zones areas stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full and eat their smallest meal in the early evening. They select vegetables, fruits, and whole grains or beans as the cornerstone ingredients of most meals while meats are eaten in small amounts. Finally, the enjoyment of moderate consumption of wine with friends and/or with food is widely practiced.

Creating a Blue Zones lifestyle is possible with focused intention. Moving more throughout the day can be as simple as walking daily. Finding meaningful work and intentionally aligning values to everyday actions are steps to living with purpose. When creating your tribe, looking for people ‘instantly recognizable” or who feel “deeply familiar” is a very Western idea. The downside is pushing to the side the person you don’t feel an instant affinity with. Consider including in your tribe those you resonate with and those who challenge you to see the world in a new way. Most Americans find adding fruits to their meals easy, but we struggle with adding vegetables. Add a salad. Salads are a great way to add a good amount of nutrient-rich vegetables to your diet. Let’s start with three different salad recipes from EatingWell that will fill you up and delight your taste buds.


Italian Chopped Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato and White Bean Salad

Lemony Lentil Salad with Feta

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Performance Appraisal Season is Here!

Annual performance appraisal season is underway. It’s a time to receive formal feedback from your supervisor on your contributions, job performance, and goals and discuss performance expectations for the upcoming year. The performance appraisal process is different this year, and we wanted you to be aware of these updates to help you prepare and know what to expect.  

What You Need to Know

As part of the annual performance appraisal process, you should receive a rating (based on the current 1-5 rating system) on your contributions and job performance since the beginning of the current fiscal year. Here are the changes that will impact you:

Capability Model – Henrico County implemented a Capability Model that went into effect in Fiscal Year 2022-2023 and replaced the competencies that employees were previously rated on during the performance appraisal season. If you are unfamiliar with the model, we encourage you to visit our resource page on the employee website, view the Henrico Capability Model videos on YouTube, or the series of articles previously written in the County Connection.

Ratings – Your performance ratings should reflect what you earned based on your overall performance  and the performance goals and expectations created last year around the Capability Model.  

Performance Narratives – You can expect to receive a written narrative explaining your rating with a summary or description of your performance. Your performance narrative should be based on your overall performance, as well as goals and expectations that were established around the Capability Model. 

Performance Goals – During the appraisal meeting, you should reflect on your achievements and partner with your supervisor to establish performance goals that you would like to focus on in Fiscal Year 2023-2024 to help you perform well. Performance goals and narratives should be based on the Capability Model. 

What’s Next?

The performance appraisal season will conclude on Friday, May 26th. Now is the time to think about your performance and what you may want to share with your supervisor about your achievements and goals, and partner with them to understand expectations to set you up for success in your role. HR is here to support you during the performance appraisal season. Please contact us at (804) 501-4628 if you have questions about the performance appraisal process or Capability Model. 

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