At each meeting, participants worked together to summarize the key themes related to aspirations, challenges, and changes.
Conversations held so far were summarized as below.
OUR SUMMARY- August 25: We began by saying that we wanted a more tolerant community where individuals/seniors could connect more easily and find what they need. Challenging this is a lack of technology for all community members, difficulty communicating across and managing all the media that are available, as well as preconceived notions of what is available and what we might need. So if we want to reach our aspirations, we envision the creation of a service, which we referred to as a “ministry of information sharing” that would proactively seek information of relevance to different audiences and make sure the information reaches them. We especially imagine this as an effort that would foster intergenerational connection. Finally, we could see libraries taking a more active role in creating positive opportunities for connection.
Our Summary – September 6: We began by saying that we wanted a community where all members, including older adults and caregivers, can find opportunities to be of service and are not unwillingly isolated particularly if a lack of access to technology (and related su[port) are the barriers. However, we are challenged by the ongoing prevalence of COVID, by ageism, and by the limitations of our infrastructure, particularly accessible transportation, available parking, spaces in which to connect, and the absence of county-wide communication channels. So if we want to reach our aspirations, we need to create some group organization that will communicate about the opportunities for engagement and support that exist in Westchester County, using all media necessary; and we would need to make those resources accessible to community members at times that take into consideration the diverse scheduling needs of caregivers, those that work at home, and those who are newly retired. Finally, we would seek to expand the discussion of ageism and its implications, both to broaden the sense of possibilities of community members and to address areas for change.
Our Summary – September 7: We began by saying we want a community where people are more involved (take action) to effect positive change and offer solutions across our community. But we face apathy, entrenched systems (at all levels), lack of knowledge of how the systems work (both within and outside the systems), and an absence of a clear awareness of where to go for help. To reach our aspirations, we need to create a position of Public Advocate. This community specific role would be responsible for both educating and engaging the community, and for providing accurate direction for problem solving. Key to the success of this work would be engaging community volunteers (particularly seniors) to design and implement solutions, and integrating best practices in public advocacy such as those exhibited by Paul Feiner and Shelly Meyer. We suggest that a Public Advocate Forum be held to further define this role and identify best practices.
Our Summary – October 19: We began by saying we want a community where its members can feel safe, resourceful, and resilient – thus better able to better work together to create and support a better community. But we face a lack of trust, increasing isolation and fear, as well as an absence of lack of recognition of our shared human needs. To reach our aspirations, we need to create a model of citizen-servant leadership that advances opportunities for community members to understand what the ongoing work is to evolve as humans, as individuals, and as part of a whole.