I can’t quite remember who asked me, but in front of San Francisco City Hall last Friday evening, during our World Diabetes Day celebrations, somebody pointed to my pin and asked, “Why the blue circle, anyway? What does that mean?”

They also wanted to know why the logo didn’t have the world “diabetes” stamped across it: “Who’s going to recognize that this stands for diabetes?!

For goodness’ sake, it’s supposed to be like the ubiquitous pink ribbon for breast cancer, red ribbon for AIDS, or yellow ribbon for bring-home-the-troops.  Setting the issue of why it’s blue and a circle aside for a moment, can’t we all agree that a symbol that speaks for itself is better than having to pin the word “DIABETES” on your lapel?

I was especially surprised to discover that folks from the local chapter of the ADA (American Diabetes Association) weren’t at all familiar with the blue circle campaign. I sort of forgave them for it last year, since it was still very new then, but now I’m thinking that that group — and this country at large, which doesn’t play up World Diabetes Day a fraction as much as the rest of the world — may be suffering from some classic “not invented here syndrome.” When you go to the ADA’s website right now, for example, you see “American Diabetes Month,” but nada on WDD.

I hereby proclaim this Call to Action for next year’s WDD: Let’s do it up, right, America! And that means you, ADA! And that means you, Mainstream Media! This awareness campaign is gaining traction, with the likes of T1 rockstar Nick Jonas on board, but it seems like we have a long way to go to catch up with the Brits, the Germans, or the Australians, for example.

And now for the Why Blue? And Why a Circle?

I know from my previous research that this symbol was the brainchild of Kari Rosenfeld of the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) and her daughter Clare back in 2006, when the IDF was campaigning for United Nations Resolution on diabetes (which they got, btw.) The blue color is meant to evoke the color of the sky, and the circle is a symbol of unity.

You can now read the official explanation of the international “Unite for Diabetes” symbol here:

“The colour blue reflects the sky that unites all nations and is the colour of the United Nations flag. The blue circle signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes pandemic.”

And also, from the IDF on “What’s with the blue circle?”

“A simple blue circle because of the circle’s frequent occurrence in nature and because myriad cultures over time have used the circle to symbolize life, mother earth and health.  The unbreakable unity it represents mirrors the global diabetes community …”

How beautiful. Let’s get even more unbreakable next year, K?