Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Please join us in creating the first Elders Guild Community. Our first meeting will be on Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at St. John's Church, 2727 College Ave. in Berkeley.
We are beginning here and now to launch the Elders Guild as an international organization of communities of people on the multigenerational, interdependent path of becoming elders.
That huge group of us who will come to be known as the elder boomers have the potential to transform our role as we age and leave a shining legacy for the generations that will follow. We can bring wisdom, support and healing to one another and to the children of our children.
The Elders Guild combines community, activism and deep lifelong learning in one organization. Our goal is for each of us to have connection, potency and a meaningful role at a stage of life when we have been conditioned to expect only diminished strength, capacity and escalating loss.
At a time when many of us are pondering what happens next, the Elders Guild is creating a bold new vision for the second half of our lives. Think of it as well-being insurance that will optimize our ability to age with grace, purpose and self-determination. The earlier we begin and the more we invest of ourselves in the process, the greater the likelihood of vitality, continued regeneration and dignity when our need is greatest.
It is not too late for us to rescue our dreams and aspirations for a better world for those who will follow us. Collectively and individually, our best years can be ahead of us.
At the first meeting we will present a working draft of the Elders Guild Handbook and begin the process of building the infrastructure for the Elders movement. For more information, please visit us on the web at the Live Oak Institute. Here is a link to Barry Barkan's recent Tikkun article, How Elders Can Rebalance The World
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I went for a run this morning over the Washington Crossing Bridge, and then ran back up along Penn Avenue and saw volunteers picking up litter in Garfield. That gave me hope for the future, much needed after dodging the senseless mess of litter earlier in my run out along Friendship Avenue between the park and the new Children's Hospital. That's one trash strewn street.
Yesterday I filled a full bag of litter walking along Negley between Centre & Friendship.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I'm headed out tomorrow morning to pick up litter along Centre Avenue, and then again in Friendship tomorrow evening as part of the October citywide clean-up.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
During the depression, Gordon Shoes was contracted by the Catholic, Jewish and Protestant Charities to supply shoes to families whose husbands were out of work and money. Gordon's had it's own streetcar tokens printed out and distributed them freely to needy families. Benjamin truly had a generous heart. He never sent out bills and never refused those who were in need of shoes.The store had a ledger that kept track of who owed what, but at the end of the year, the book (which was always full) was thrown away and a new one was started. The business thrived on a plan of honor,service,ethics and minimal profits.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
In advance of airing Ken Burns "The War", on Saturday WQED will show Remembering World War II, a special 2-hour program featuring stories from local Veterans mixed with music from "The War" soundtrack. My neighbor got a call today from the producer asking about his story -- we'll see if it makes the cut.
Mentioning WQED gives me the excuse I was looking for to embed the Mr. Rogers Senate testimony from 1969:
I have a working theory about Mr. Rogers and the Burgh Diaspora. Those of us who grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1970's heard the voice of Mr. Rogers as we did our real neighbors, funny Pittsburgh accent and all. But Seventies kids all over the country heard his voice too, and I think that explains a little of the neighborly fondness that many seem to have for Pittsburgh, even those who have never visited.
"And then when the money ran out people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said we've got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care."
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The resulting 27 films were an early form of Pittsburgh corporate boosterism:
The films were shown daily with great success in the Westinghouse Auditorium at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis in 1904. Although little production information is available for these films, they may have been made expressly for use at the Exposition.On May 12, 1904, the Pittsburgh Post described a special screening for Westinghouse employees.
To satisfy the curiosity of the Westinghouse employees who were desirous of seeing the views to be sent to the Louisiana Purchase exposition, an exhibition of them was given last night by the Westinghouse officials at Carnegie music hall. The moving pictures show the interiors of the four Westinghouse plants at East Pittsburg, Swissvale, Wilmerding and Trafford City, combined with a panoramic view of the country between those places. The interior views are the first successful ones taken since the invention of the Cooper Hewitt vaporized mercury lamp, which in this instance made the clearest and brightest moving picture ever exhibited.
More on Wilmerding:
In yet another respect is Wilmerding distinguished from its sister boroughs of the county. It is a strong hold of socialism, not militant socialism, such as is sometimes linked with anarchy and violence, but the peaceful, sane variety.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The 65-and-over population makes up 17.1 percent of the region, compared to 12.4 percent of the nation. Those 85 or older represent an estimated 2.5 percent locally and 1.7 percent nationally.When considering proportions of age groups in a metro region, it seems especially important to unpack the percentages a bit. A one percent difference at one end of the age distribution does not equal a one percent difference in the middle.
Pittsburgh's biggest proportional shortfalls in young people fell in the under-5 and 25-34 age ranges, but it even showed a lower share of people in their late teens and 20s than the country as a whole, despite the large number of colleges that attract young non-Pittsburghers.
So when we compare our 2.5 percent over 85 to the 1.7 percent nationally, it's more than a small difference. Our 2.5 percent over 85 has significant implications for our health care system and our caregiving workforce.
Knowing what we know about these age distributions and rates of change, what are the projections for our region's population in the next 30 years under various scenarios of immigration, out migration and death rates?
And now for something completely different, here's a little of what football looked like when today's 103 year olds came into the world (Michigan vs. the University of Chicago in 1904 -- the title slide incorrectly identifies it as from 1903):
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Tonight I watched Penn State beat Notre Dame with my neighbor Bob (he's the Class of '38 from Dear Old State, I'm '92).
Bob told me about being on the sidelines as a 12 yr. old in 1930 when Knute Rockne brought his team to town to face Jock Sutherland at Pitt. He was earning boy scout merit badges at the games by working as an usher, but for the Notre Dame game he got to be on the field. Bob helped set up the Notre Dame bench and then sat on it during the game, fetching things from the locker room as needed. He doesn't remember much from that day other than sitting there in awe of the Notre Dame players. I have this image of Bob going back into the locker room to get something just as Knute Rockne was firing up his guys with another win one for the Gipper speech.
The Boy Scouts had a big effect on Bob. Joe Katz was his scout leader (he was three or four years older than Bob). I actually think Joe Katz may have been Pittsburgh's first paid blogger:
His first big break came during the Pittsburgh Flood of 1936. Joe and his partner got an idea after seeing "all of Pittsburgh seemingly taking those unforgettable photos of desks, chairs and debris floating down the main thoroughfares in Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle." Joe decided to publish a souvenir booklet of the flood. He bought up anyone's undeveloped films, spent a whole night reproducing the photos, then took a train to Cleveland (where at least they had electricity) to have 100,000 copies printed overnight. "We sold them all in four days at 10 cents apiece,"Joe says. But he adds: "For years I could have kicked myself. For 50 cents they would have sold just as easily! Even so, that was the most money I had ever seen in my life."By the way, the Lions didn't come alive until Bob joined the "White Out" and held up this Dear Old State shirt that I gave to him last weekend. Hmmm...
Friday, September 7, 2007
So imagine my surprise while searching tonight when I came across this feature piece by Barry Barkan in the current issue of Tikkun. Barry had told me it was coming out when I saw him in August, but I had completely forgotten about it.
For those who didn't read my opening post last Friday, Barry is an Ashoka Fellow and originator of the Elders Guild idea. If you get a chance watch this special interview with Barry created as part of the Ashoka-Berkeley Social Entrepreneurship Digital Library Project.
From the Tikkun article:
The Elders Guild—and whatever other organization we can create that provides community, nurtures wisdom, and commits to healing the future—can rebalance the world. I have learned from my work as a community organizer with thousands of old people that the mixed blessing of older years is the great social equalizer. It creates the universal ground that transcends economics, race, religion, ideology, and health status.
Old people have taught us that long years frequently smooth our jagged places, humble us, deepen our compassion, and enable us to respect common wisdom. Given a modicum of integrity, it is likely that, as we ripen, we will care more deeply about the important things: about life itself, about relationships, about the preciousness of the mother planet, about peace, about harmonizing with the sacred, about being loving, about forgiveness, and about taking responsibility for the world we will leave behind to the grandchildren.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Here how NY State is defining a NNORC, as part of a state-funded effort to help elders age in community:
The term Neighborhood NORC shall mean and refer to a residential dwelling or group of residential dwellings in a geographically defined neighborhood of a municipality which:
1. contains not more than two thousand persons who are elderly (i.e., 60 years of age or older);
2. contains elderly in at least forty percent of the units;
3. is made up of low-rise buildings six stories or less in height and/or single and multi-family homes;
4. area was not originally developed for elderly persons; and,
5. does not restrict admission strictly to the elderly.
I'm looking at Pittsburgh's 2000 census data and so far Swisshelm Park looks like a pretty good candidate for a NNORC - though probably on the small side for really making it work (only 1,378 residents). In 1999, 27.8% of residents there were over age 62, and 40.5% of the households had someone over age 65.
I seem to recall reading somewhere about a group in Mt. Lebanon meeting to discuss this approach, but can't find a link anywhere.
Here is a program in St. Louis. that seeks to link community volunteers with good old fashioned Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (where the elders are co-located in an actual building).
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
In 2,727 of the households (45%), the grandparent was the primary caregiver for the grandchild.
Below are the top 20 neighborhoods in terms of absolute number raising grandchildren. Obviously many of the grandparents are under age 65 (many are probably in their forties), but I included the % of households with someone over 65 in the neighborhood anyway:
|% of households|
65 and over
|number of households with grandparent and own grandchild under age 18||number of grandparents raising grandchildren|
|South Side Slopes||30.4||109||18|
Useful information about "kinship programs" -- grandparents raising grandkids -- here, here and here.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
View Larger Map
All data from the CMS Nursing Home Compare site.
Obviously not all "elders" live in nursing homes -- the vast majority live on their own in the community.
I'm still working on summarizing the personal care/assisted living data for Allegheny County, but according to the PA Dept. of Public Welfare there are 6,453 residents living in 171 personal care homes/assisted living communities spread throughout the county (there is capacity for 8,835).
Friday, August 31, 2007
So a great launching off point in this inaugural post is Pittsblog's Sense of Place contribution tonight linking to the Pop City interview with Grant Oliphant of the Heinz Endowments. Abby Mendelson's interview with Oliphant did indeed make me optimistic for our future, just as Mike Madison suggested it would:
“People don’t realize what we have here. It’s almost like we’re missing the story of the time we’re living in.”
So how do we appreciate the things we have?
"First," he says, “when a person or organization changes the dialogue, they change the world. That’s something my boss Teresa Heinz has taught me, that what we talk about and the way we talk about it has meaning. We need to talk about us. Our place. Our assets. Not just the comparisons. Not just the difficulties.”
One way to do that, Oliphant adds, is to focus on strength. “If you just focus on solving problems,” he says, “you’ll always have problems, and you’ll always be solving them. If instead, you begin by saying, ‘here’s what I like about such-and-such – and now let’s build on it,’ you’ve begun with a positive – and added only positives to it. If you describe your community in terms of assets, you create more assets.”
Can it be that simple? It may be. Change the focus, you change the world.
We constantly read about how Pittsburgh is an OLD city, and it's always presented as a problem. But what does it mean to consider our aging population as a strength?
That's the basic question that will animate this blog as I seek out elders in my Naturally Occuring Retirement Community and elsewhere, interviewing them about things like the Pittsburgh Diaspora and other insights I come across in the Burghosphere. My chief collaborator at the outset will be my 90 yr old neighbor Bob, seen in his GeriatricFellow YouTube videos.
Bob's been working on getting the word out for a very long time, having worked as a teenager circa 1930 in Joe Katz's family garage print-shop. Tomorrow I plan to get his reaction to my good friend Barry Barkan's idea for the Elders Guild, for which Barry and his Live Oak Institute in Berkeley have received planning grant money from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
And bonus points to the first commenter who identifies the historical significance of the river bank in this blog's banner photo above.