Report from Jan Hively at the Encore Summit
Encore.org is building a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve their communities and the world. Originally called Civic Ventures, Encore.org was founded in 1997 in San Francisco by social entrepreneur, Marc Freedman, and grew out of a desire to transform the aging of America into a powerful, positive source of individual and social renewal.
Encore.org has been spearheading efforts to engage millions of people in later life as a vital source of talent to benefit society. The organization has pursued three strategies:
- Elevate: Combat ageism and change expectations about the second half of life and establish a new norm around work and impact in later life.
- Enable: Operate programs that engage encore talent for social impact.
- Expand: Build and connect a robust and growing movement of individuals and organizations working to advance the encore movement across sectors and geographic locations.
I’ve been attending Marc Freedman’s inspiring conferences for 15 years during my own encore transitions from co-founding the Vital Aging Network, then the SHIFT Network, and most recently, the Pass It On Network – all focused on encouraging “Meaningful work, paid or unpaid, through the last breath.” Since 2006, when Marc initiated the Purpose Prize award for social entrepreneurs over age 60, I’ve also attended as a Purpose Prize Fellow.
During the 15 years, the number of conference goers has expanded from 80 to 400. What’s been most impressive to me has been the growth from fewer than 10 to more than 50 organizations in the Encore Network that connect community organizations with encore talent or offer resources and support for encore seekers. (At this year’s conference, a dozen of the representatives came from countries outside of the U.S.) Similarly, the number of Purpose Prize Winners and Fellows has gone from 15 in 2006 to a total of100 winners and 400 fellows today. (This year, three of the six winners do their great work outside of the U.S.)
So what’s next for Encore.org? The Encore Network will continue to expand its outreach and span of support for the three E’s. But after ten years, responsibility for the Purpose Prize Awards is being turned over to AARP, with a goal of dramatically increasing their visibility and scope. And Encore.org is launching a major new campaign, “Encores4Youth”, for adults age 50+ to step into a wide range of youth-serving roles, from volunteer mentoring and tutoring to paid program and leadership positions.
As Encore.org creates “second acts for the greater good,” the Pass It On Network is seen as a trusted partner, helping to build a movement “tapping the human capital of experienced adults to improve our communities and the world.”
8th International Positive Aging Conference in Washington DC
SAVE THE DATE: August 25-26-27, 2016
Hosted by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and supported by Fielding Graduate University through its Creative Longevity and Wisdom Program.
First, Ashton Applewhite’s This Chair Rocks Manifesto Against Ageism
The book explains the roots of ageism—in history and in our own age denial—and how it divides and debases, examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of olders as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and concludes with a rousing call to action. It’s time to create a world of age equality by making discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as any other kind. Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life.
From childhood on, we’re barraged by messages that it’s sad to be old. That wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people useless. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite believed them too—until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks traces Applewhite’s journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life. The book explains the roots of ageism—in history and in our own age denial—and how it divides and debases, examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of olders as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and concludes with a rousing call to action. It’s time to create a world of age equality by making discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as any other kind. Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life. Age pride!
About the Author:
Ashton Applewhite has been recognized by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. She blogs at This Chair Rocks, speaks widely, has written for Harper’s and Playboy, and is the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? In 2015 she was included in Salt magazine’s list of 100 inspiring women—along with Aung San Suu Kyi, Angelina Jolie, Germaine Greer, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, and other remarkable activists—who are committed to social change.
“Sometimes a writer does us all a great favor and switches on a light. Snap! The darkness vanishes and, in its place we find an electric vision of new ways of living. I want to live in a world where ageism is just a memory, and This Chair Rocks illuminates the path.” —Dr. Bill Thomas, Founder of Changing Aging
“Ashton Applewhite is a visionary whose time has come, tackling one of the most persistent biases of our day with originality, verve, and humor. Her magic formula of naming and shaming may just shake all of us out of complacency and into action. Whether you relate through being older now or recognize that aging is in your future, this is one of the most important books you’ll ever read.” —Marc Freedman, CEO of Encore.org and author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Life Stage Before Midlife
What you can do to crack ageism… download your copy of “Who me, ageist?” How to start a consciousness-raising group
News from Around the World
The Institute of Active Ageing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
To innovate, To Partner, To Excel
In 2015, the Institute of Active Ageing (IAA) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) proudly celebrated its 5th anniversary. A whole host of activities had been held in honor of the occasion, including: The Active Ageing Photograph and Microfilm Competition and Exhibition, Active Ageing Week and Opening Ceremony, and The International Symposium on Active Ageing.
IAA was established in July 2010 within the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences (FHSS) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Hong Kong’s rapid demographic change is viewed by IAA as an excellent opportunity to support the city’s development into an age friendly society. IAA aims to promote active ageing among the third age (who are aged 50+), and to enhance their quality of life through engaging them in lifelong learning, voluntary work and encore career. This group is growing to become a valuable asset in terms of human capital.
IAA has been pooling the resources of scholars, researchers and practitioners from 23 disciplines within PolyU in such broad categories as:
Health and human services, Finance and business, Policy and management, Design, engineering and technology, Environmental sciences and biotechnology, Textiles and clothing, and Leisure and recreation.
The pooled resources help to create synergistic opportunities for innovating cutting-edge research on ageing, designing interdisciplinary educational programs, and implementing evidence based empowerment practice.
During the past five years, IAA has accomplished a remarkable path of development. With the support of the senior management of the University, and the generous donations sponsored by the financial and philanthropic institutions, (the Keswick Foundation, the Fu Tak Iam Foundation, the Hang Oi Foundation, Lee Kum Kee Foundation, and Elder Academies Foundation, etc.,) IAA was able to build into a strong team of 55 affiliated faculty members representing 14 academic departments, and incorporating a membership base of more than 2,000 people who are aged 50+.
The theme “Innovate for Active Ageing” has been the guiding principle for our development in the past five years, and this will continue to be the driving force behind our progression towards our search of the new meanings of active ageing in the years to come.
To summarize, our accomplishment in the past five years is the outcome of achieving the interdisciplinary and interlocking of the three strategic areas in Research, Education, and Practice.
We created a platform to encourage and pool together scholars and researchers of different professional disciplines to conduct interdisciplinary ageing research of common interest, especially in the areas of ‘total wellness’, ‘age-friendly environments’, and ‘gerontechnology’. More than 10 research projects were supported by international and local grants, such as Germany Research Grant, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Employee Retraining Board, Social Welfare Department, St James Settlement, Tung Wah Group, etc.
We implemented an interdisciplinary undergraduate program on applied gerontology, which aims to prepare all-rounded professionals with the necessary competencies and attributes to meet the emerging needs of our ageing society, and to be able to serve in the growing silver market. A full-time self-financed top-up degree programme was offered in 2012. With the overwhelming response in subscribing to the program and the high employment rate of the graduates, the University Grants Committee and PolyU has agreed to make this as a UGC funded program starting 2017.
The Project for the Third Age, which we run together with our third age members, aims to empower people who are aged 50+ to attain health, independence and active ageing, through participating in lifelong education, engaging in volunteer work and establishing encore careers. Up to the present day, IAA has accumulated 2,000+ registered members, has offered 279 courses for a total of 3,515 enrollments, and has engaged 7,500 volunteering and 538 matched employment incidences for our members.
Looking ahead, we aim to further integrate design and technology in the total wellness research; to develop a multi-disciplinary and holistic ageing degree program to train professionals for the growing silver market; and expand on innovative intergenerational activities between the youth and the third age through life mentorship, intergenerational English as a Second Language (ESL) project, and overseas service study tour. We also hope to engage family members of the third age, so as to bring the active ageing movement from the community to everyone’s own home.
The past achievements could not have been made possible without the commitment of PolyU, the staunch support from the local and overseas partners, and the dedicated efforts of our staff and members. Capitalizing on our concerted efforts, we aim to scale new heights, and to innovate further for better research, education and practices, in continuing to promote active ageing in Hong Kong and even beyond its boundary.
Mobilizing one million years of change for South Africa:
Pass It On liaison Lynda Smith wins cash prize to build her dream
I have a dream for South Africa.
There are about 2 million skilled South Africans over 50. Imagine if we could recruit 10% of them to take on a second career, helping in the social sector for 5 years. This would result in ONE MILLION years of change for our Nation.
In November last year I entered a Festival of Ideas competition at GIBS- one of the well known business schools in South Africa. There were about 300 entries, 40 of us made it through to the first round, where we were given a day of training on how to pitch to funders and then had to do a two minute pitch around our idea. From this group I was lucky enough to make it to the final 10 who had to again do their pitch, this time to an audience of investors, social entrepreneurs and academics. On the final day I was lucky enough to win a cash prize to help me build my dream. A young black electronics engineer who won the first prize engaged with me afterwards. We met a week later to chat and he offered to help me to think through the technical plan before development. I do believe that many of our challenges will be solved when we step up and offer help together across generations. Below is my two minute pitch with the idea I have. I will hopefully start to roll this out later in 2016.
Our country is moving through challenging times on a social and economic level. The Retiring Baby Boomer generation are retiring with skills, time and health on their side. They need to keep working to save their investments longer and many who have enough money need a reason to get up daily. On the other side of the coin, we have massive challenges in education, health, environment and entrepreneurship. Matching these two sides of the coin could bring real change in our country.
The idea is to develop a recruitment portal with a difference. Anyone over 50 can list their skills, qualifications and work availability on the site. They can decide to sell some of their time to mentor, coach or contract to business and government. They can also decide how many hours and which skills they would like to donate to a specific section of the social sector for free. Business, Government and the Non- Government sector can then look for matches needed. Individuals can also use the site to look for skills, classes and services they need.
Most South Africans over 60 do not have enough money to retire on. They need to work longer but struggle to market themselves. This platform would help them to market what they do. The social sector desperately needs skills but in most cases cannot afford them. Here is a solution for them to mine a database and work with a passionate skilled South African.
Organizing 50+expo for Nova Scotia, Canada
Pass It On’s liaison Kathleen NguOrgen shows how to live our Vision
Incorporated in 1990, the Seniors’ Expo Society was established to organize an expo, “by seniors for seniors.” “These active and willing volunteers chose the theme “Life Is What You make It” and built upon the foundation of the very successful “Leisure Festival” organized by a group of seniors in Halifax in 1987 and 1988,” (1st Seniors’ Expo Program Guide, July 14 and 15, 1990). With considerable skill, leadership, and government support of enthused volunteers, the first Expo was held in 1990.
Through ongoing leadership and support of government, coupled with the dynamic energy and skill of volunteers, significant accomplishments of the 50+expo include in-part 25 years of successful events that have annually highlighted: positive and healthy aging; achievements of older adults; inter-generational and multi-cultural activities; opportunities available to older adults where they can share their skills and learn new ones; educational seminars; new and innovative developments, and much more.
In its earlier years, the networking opportunities of the expo seeded positive aging discussions that served to create a positive aging strategy for Nova Scotia. These rich ideas have had significant and far reaching impact as they were ushered into the 1999 International Year of Older Persons, where the concept of age-friendly communities crystalized.
These latter years of 50+expo have recognized the successes of earlier years. Entrepreneurs in the private sector gained footing at the 50+expo and now have successful businesses, some international business and contribute significantly to Nova Scotia’s economy. In the 50+expo’s promoting positive aging and age-friendly concepts, more communities and businesses are striving for age-friendly environments, practices, and social opportunities, of which also contribute positively to the economy and well-being of maturing adults. The networking at 50+expo has supported the launching and growth of mini expos throughout Nova Scotia where age-friendly concepts continue to flourish.
With funding substantially reduced over this past year due to the growing needs for provincial fiscal restraint and fund redistribution, we are faced with how to continue the dynamic and cross-fertilization of rich ideas. In the midst of this creative opportunity, we have found that, as the Hopi American Leader, Chief Dan Evehema, has articulated so vividly, indeed, we are the one’s we’ve been waiting for!
Taking the Lid off Adult Child-Parent Abuse
Silvia Crom, Pass It On’s liaison, wants to know what you think of this…
Click here to read her blog. (written in Spanish)
Silvia, a psychologist, was shocked at the number of reactions she had to a recent blog on adult children and abusive behavior towards their parents. “Writing about it seems to have open the floodgates among the 8,400 readers of my blog and I was really surprised at the reaction, and sensed a deep well of pain masked by these tentative confessions” she says.
She started to blog when she turned 60 to record the new issues she was meeting as a 60+ adult.
“I have started a group to talk about this abuse issue and I would love to hear from others around the world. I want to know:
- Do you encounter this same problem?
- Are you, or do you know of parents deprived from seeing their grandchildren?
- Can you send me references to literature or studies done on this issue to: email@example.com.”
Rallying to support sons and grandsons caught up in the war
The situation in Ukraine differs somewhat from the rest of Europe. There is war and we still feel its pressure, says Galina Poliakova, CEO of the Ukrainian Charity “Turbota pro Litnih v Ukraini”.
I realize that this may not be very interesting for elders in other countries. However I can’t deny that these tragic events give a good chance for elder people to feel involved and very important.
In our branches elder volunteers (99% women) do lots of wonderful things for Ukrainian Army. There is no desire to support the war – there is only an attempt to support their sons and grandsons caught up in the struggle.
So here are a few examples of what our volunteers do:
- sew underwear for soldiers on the front – about 1000 pieces (there is nowhere to wash and to dry the things)
- make small cushions nearly 1500 pieces (the soldiers sleep in the sleeping bags),
- produce nearly 10 km of camouflage nets
- bake pastry to be send to the front – nearly 0,5 tons
- bake tarts and cakes to treat the wounded in hospitals
You can see that on our site: www.tlu.org.ua the photos may say more…
You can ask, is this a sign of the positive ageing? I think so. They do what they find to be necessary these days.
It should be also mentioned that they continue the statutory activities: individual advocacy, protecting rights and interests of older lonely people, elder abuse prevention, older citizens monitoring, and alike. Perhaps the results are less tangible and can’t be calculated in meters or kilos, but here are two very concrete examples:
- Toilets: In a huge 5-story health service center there only were public toilets on one story only. The TLU volunteers took up the case and insisted that there should be toilets on every story – they won.
- Pharmacy: The volunteers discovered that a pharmacy operating under the banner of a social pharmacy with supposedly lower prices was in fact charging higher prices. They complained and the pharmacy was obliged to take down its “social pharmacy” signboard and lost this special status.
Earn Our Vote campaign – Ageing and Active Flex Political Muscle
The next government needs a cabinet minister for older people to deal with problems posed by an ageing population, advocacy groups have said, writes Ciaran D’Arcy in The Irish Times.
Launching the Earn Our Vote campaign a month ahead of the Irish general election, representatives from elderly rights charities including Alone and Age Action Ireland promised to publicize candidates and parties that pledge to implement three specific policy demands should they enter into government. The main requests are: party support for older people to remain healthy and engaged in their communities for longer; state pension increase and the creation of a new ministry specifically for over-65s, a demographic which is set to grow from 500,000 to nearly 1.5 million within 30 years.
Justin Moran of Age Action Ireland said, “We’re not going to be urging people to vote for any particular political party or candidate, but if a candidate or political party out there says ‘I’m going to endorse this campaign’ then we’re going to let the people we represent know about them,” he said.
“If we are serious about dealing with the changes that are coming to Irish society as our population ages . . . there’s got to be a minister for older people at a cabinet level in this country. The sooner it happens the better,” he added.
Previously there was a Minister of Older People, but in a government reshuffle in 2014 the title was lost and the incumbent minister absorbed by the Department of Health. Commenting on this, Peter Kavanagh of Active Retirement Ireland said, “It’s strange for us to think that once you turn 65 you’re all of a sudden the Department of Health’s problem and you add nothing else to Ireland as a citizen.”
The campaign calls for all parties to take a progressive stance towards adequately reimbursing older people. “One of the things we’ve seen in recent times is older people being thrown sops or being seen as an afterthought . . . And I think that’s how older people have been seen over the last while – just an afterthought, not really looked after,” said Mr Kavanagh.