I’m sitting at my friend Priscilla’s kitchen counter watching the birds at her feeders while updating my dissertation, A Map to Living Openheartedly. I’m preparing for a Facilitator Training: Turning Your Life Into a Living* led by Jan Phillips that begins tonight here in Gig Harbor.
I’ve heard Jan say “stay where your joy is.” My joy is exploring – be it with my camera, my art, writing, time with my grandchildren, and discussing my ideas with others. Reviewing my dissertation before the workshop is relevant to exploring ideas and advocating community/shared living with others.
Over 20 years ago a group of friends and I discussed buying property together for our “golden years.” Fortunes have changed. It has become necessary for some of us to share our limited resources. We want to look at how others are doing this, and as activists my pal Donna Butman and I are thinking about sharing what we learn with others.
My entire work life includes advocating community with heart – hospice programs, community mental health family support programs, sustainable, bottom line business practices, and inclusionary community art programs. Last week I was privileged to edit my colleague Donna’s paper LOVE NOISILY! Exploring the Faces of Activism. With her permission I’m including some ideas she shared in the paper that strike me as relevant to our journey engaging in a movement toward oldsters sharing housing.
Donna relates one of the books that had the greatest impact on her as she was writing the paper was Theodore Rosnak’s Making of an Elder Culture. His chapter on “Elder Insurgency” (71-104) focuses on the dilemmas facing society with the aging of the Boomers and the stress it places on economic programs. He contends that we need to use role models like Maggie Kuhn, founder of the intergenerational coalition – the Gray Panthers. “As Maggie Kuhn saw so clearly, elders must become more that a special interest. Theirs must be a noble, far-sighted cause. They must be the spearhead of a compassionate economy that spreads its benefits to everyone” (74).
She continues, “The highlight of Rosnak’s work are his discussions of aging boomer women, their many roles in our families and society and how their needs have been ignored for so long. This is the group, he predicts, that will be come the greatest political force moving forward, and the most effective. I look forward to being part of the noisy crowd that will finally gain the attention of the politicos who want to remain in power.”
As tens of thousands of us enter our 60s and 70s we are seeing a movement toward thinking about our housing needs. If I’m reading the literature and websites right, most of us do not want to live tucked away in ghettos of elders but choose to live active, involved lives in community.
Donna quotes Linda Kerber’s* ideas of a successful movement: 1) that people have …learned skills and have ideas; 2) that habits and customs are even greater forces of discrimination than laws can be; 3) that battles for rights are part of freedom for everyone and are also grounded in “habits of thoughts”; and 4) that all we seek to change is deeply rooted and we must listen to each other.
Some of Carla Goldstein’s * 10 ideas about Spiritual Activism seem relevant to include in thinking about advocating for affordable, accessible, sustainable housing for the changing needs of an older population: Awareness, compassion and love (rather than reaction, fear and anger); Interdependence; Mindfulness and presence (with intention and awareness); Accepting paradox and mystery relieves us from the need to classify truth; Going beyond proximate cause (take responsibility without knowing results); and, Consistently living from our values (influence our public and private spheres).
We wonder what you think…
A couple of Broads on a Mission, leaving love and laughter in our wake…
Carla Goldstein, J.D. is the Director of the Women’s Institute at Omega in Rhinebeck, NY. has written a series of columns for feminist.com on “Spiritual Activism, (which) examines a growing approach to social justice activism…that provides a holistic, relationship-based framework for working for change.” (Goldstein).