At Ashby Village you'll sometimes hear the phrase “Changing Our World Again - Join Us!”
Ashby Village volunteer Sarah Hawthorne shares her personal thoughts on what this phrase may mean. To her, these words take us back to our Village roots, when the original Ashby Village co-founders Pat Sussman and Shirley Haberfeld were inspired by a new vision. (To read more about those early days, click here “On our First Birthday”).
Below Sarah shares resources that she considers helpful in understanding the potential impact that the older generation, especially "Baby Boomers", have a unique opportunity to make on the society we live in.
Co-founders Sussman and Haberfeld give much of the credit for Ashby Village's original vision to Ted Roszak, a charter member of Ashby Village. First known for his pivotal book in 1969 The Making of a Counter Culture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society, forty years later in 2009 at the age of 75, Roznak wrote The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation. "As the longevity revolution unfolds, senior villages will become one of the distinctive social inventions of our time." Predicting that the idealistic values of the 1960s would inspire millions of baby boomers in their last years, Roszak emphasized that the Village movement could only exist if the current elders used that same energy and exuberance of the Boomer generation to spearhead alternative ways to age in their communities. The Making of an Elder Culture is available for purchase or loan at the Ashby Village office.
Roszak's ideas echo Simone de Beauvoir's earlier 1970 masterpiece Coming of Age written when she was 62 "Once we have understood what the state of the aged really is, we cannot satisfy ourselves with calling for a more generous 'old age' policy, higher pensions, decent housing and organized leisure. It is the whole system that is at issue and our claim cannot be otherwise than radical -- change life itself."
Most recently the unique contribution that those in the third stage of life have to make toward reshaping today's society is enthusiastically described by Dr. Bill Thomas in Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life (2014). "Elderhood unlocks the psychological shackles of adulthood in much the same way that adulthood releases us from the constraints imposed by childhood. Aging offers us a new frame of reference that we can use to reinterpret and redevelop the entire American cultural landscape."
Ashby Village embraces this vision. We seek not just to benefit current Ashby Village members, but to discover and create new structures that will better serve everyone, including future generations. Bernard Isaacs, Founding Director of the Birmingham Centre for Applied Gerontology said "Design for the young, and you exclude the old; design for the old and you include the young." We are learning that changes we make to accomodate our older population actually benefit all members of our society.
- Demand for more accessible buildings, devices, products, traveling, recreation.
- Broad selection of technology adjustible to meet customer's personal needs, e.g., large type, voice-activated, read-aloud printed screens.
- Expansion and improvement of public transportation.
- Diverse housing options that are inter-generational, community oriented.
- Increased insistence that medical coverage be inclusive of everyone, with greater demand for preventiative and alternative well-being health/medical services.
- Fashion and comfort are complementary, rather than mutually exclusive (great looking orthopedic shoes!)
- Explosion of lifelong learning programs (learning is available to all ages)
- Increased appreciation for creativity and creative pursuits, recreational and leisure time.
- Healthier and more realistic expectations in family and personal relationships.
- Greater interest in integrating past events and experiences into current awareness.
- More open dialogue and new cultural/artistic expressions around death and dying.