Aging Your Way Conference Will Build Community Connections

One measure of aging well is being connected in your community. People who know their neighbors, are involved in community events, share their talents and accept help when they need it are less likely to be isolated, ill and lonely.

There lies the key question: How is it that some people are well-connected, thriving community members and others … not so much?  How do people get connected and what do they connect to?

Aging Your Way will address these questions in their upcoming Community Connections Conference: Moving From I to We on Thursday, June 26, 2014 (8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m. at South Seattle College, 6000 16th Avenue SW, in West Seattle).

What is Aging Your Way?  

Senior Services launched the Aging Your Way initiative to engage "boomers" (people born between 1946 and 1964) to create communities for all. We make this happen by nurturing projects that are community-conceived and driven.

From 2010–2011, we learned from the 700 boomers who attended our first 12 neighborhood gatherings across King County that there are five key principles folks think are necessary for communities that support us as we age. Those communities must be:

  • Intergenerational
  • Multicultural
  • Sustainable
  • Technology-supported
  • Focused on interdependence

At a 2012 Summit, we showcased 21 local projects that fit those criteria and fit into one or more of the seven themes that fell out naturally at the 12 gatherings—transportation, housing, health, arts & entertainment, the built environment, local economies, and lifelong learning. Now it's time for our second conference.

The Aging Your Way Summit in March 2012 involved hundreds of people in general sessions, table discussions, and a round-robin of project presentations.

What will we do at the Community Connections Conference?

It's clear that there are many informal networks that connect folks as well as or better than some of our large, formal networks and services. Agencies are often funded to fill the needs of certain populations, whether by providing direct services like senior centers, caregiver support and meal programs, or referral services like Information & Assistance phone lines. Smaller informal networks such as book clubs, block watches, walking groups, faith-based groups and cooking clubs are key vehicles for folks strengthening community connections and focusing on reciprocity and resilience.

Jim Diers will facilitate the Community Connections Conference on Thursday, June 26.

We learned that people naturally form groups based on identity, interest, or geography. We will focus on how to inspire individuals to get connected and how to motivate agencies to collaborate with smaller, less formal groups.

No talking heads or boring PowerPoint presentations! Jim Diers, the former director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods who is now an international consultant, will facilitate an interactive day in which you'll meet individuals who are well-connected in their communities, as well as some who are not-so-plugged-in, who can identify gaps in the system. We'll showcase some projects that have "cracked the code" in how they partner with community, agencies and funders. And we'll ask all attendees to identify and step up to launch new projects or expand or replicate existing ones.

Who will attend?  

You can expect to see a full spectrum of individuals and organizations interested in:

  • Learning how others make community connections.
  • Creating new models that support reciprocity and resiliency.
  • Creating new partnerships that sustain community interdependence.

King County residents have the talents, gifts and skills to make this happen. Aging Your Way is here to nurture the projects that come out of this conference, without funding or leading them. Together we can move "from I to we."To register for Community Connections Conference: Moving From I to We, click here or visit www.seniorservices.org/agingyourway. For more information about the conference, contact Dori Gillam at dorig@seniorservices.org.

Contributor Dori Gillam, the Aging Your Way program manager at Senior Services, is also an accomplished speaker and coach who says “age is not a four-letter word!” Look for additional articles from Dori in future issues of AgeWise King County.