Baby boomers are the topic of conversation at the 8th Annual National Village Gathering, a conference aimed at connecting villages of aging populations around the country, which begins today.
The three-day event is taking place at the Hyatt Regency downtown but kicked off yesterday with a Village 101 Pre-Conference, an opportunity to connect peers who are in the process of developing a village.
Villages are membership-driven, grassroots organizations that coordinate services for the aging population in their areas.
The gathering is presented by the national Village to Village Network, which helps establish, improve and connect villages around the country.
According to the Village to Village website, “villages do anything and everything that their members want and need,” including providing access to affordable transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, educational activities and group trips along with vetted, discounted providers.
Many villages are nonprofits and work to complement services offered by local area agencies on aging.
This year’s gathering is titled “The Village Movement: Making Your Future a Good One.”
Opening keynote speaker Elizabeth Isele is slated to present an address on senior entrepreneurship this morning.
“The world has changed for seniors and they, in turn, are changing the world,” the event description states. “Today’s 50+ year-olds who have been given the gift of an additional 20 to 30 years of longevity and good health are keen to add meaningful life to those years, to remain self-reliant, and to give back to their work, communities and their world.
“They may have never identified themselves as entrepreneurs, but in many ways they have been entrepreneuring all their lives: in their work; managing a home; raising a family; nurturing reciprocal relationships; and so much more.”
Isele, who founded the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship at age 70, will speak about the economic power of experience and models for nurturing entrepreneurship in later life from around the world.
Today’s general session will also include a presentation on villages and age-friendly communities from Gail Kohn, Age-Friendly DC coordinator, and Katie White, founding executive director of Village Connections and Age-Friendly community coordinator for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
“We will explain the need to change the view of older adults as ‘people we serve’ to ‘people who serve with us,’” Kohn and White said in a statement. “We will change the idea of the ‘boomer problem’ to the ‘boomer opportunity’ by outlining the strength of influence that village members have.
“We want Village to Village Network conference participants to walk away motivated to change the idea of ‘the boomer problem’ to the ‘boomer opportunity’ by utilizing the power villages and village members have in their city and community on business bottom lines, election outcomes and improving lifelong experiences.”
The session will include a panel discussion between Columbus City Council member and Age-Friendly Columbus Chair, Michael Stinziano, DC Council member Brandon Todd, and both respective cities’ Age-Friendly coordinators.
Tomorrow’s schedule includes a presentation from Dr. Bill Thomas on aging with purpose. Thomas is currently on his “Age of Disruption Tour” and will present his talk at the Columbus Convention Center.
“The keynote will provide the tools you need to engage with and help local influencers, opinion leaders, friends and family ‘disrupt’ conventional wisdom around aging,” according to an event description.
Also tomorrow will be a keynote address from author and activist Ashton Applewhite, author of “This Chair Rocks,” which “traces Applewhite’s journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life.”
Applewhite will discuss the roots of ageism and the portrayal of older adults as burdens on society.
The final day of the gathering will include an interactive workshop on strategic planning for villages run by Rebeccah Bennett of Emerging Wisdom.
Along with the general sessions and keynote speakers, this year’s gathering includes breakout sessions on topics such as managing village volunteers, exploring state advocacy and community engagement opportunities, rural village models and innovative housing options for seniors.