The last AHWGO event, generously hosted by IDEO on December 18th was a great evening. Cathy Spensley’s presentation led to a fruitful brainstorming session on San Francisco’s efforts to become more age- and disability friendly.

Consider San Francisco: an enlightened community, a wealth of excellent nonprofits, a thriving and innovative business community. This city currently comes with soaring housing prices, a struggling middle class and a youth oriented culture, making it difficult for many people to grow old here.

Cathy’s question “How can we make it (the aging experience) personal?” put the finger on the pulse of the issue: the challenge to create more community connections across generations. There is an interest and need from both sides to connect – as a young member of the audience said “Grandparents: you don’t have one – you can get one”.

The following sampling of questions, ideas and comments from the brainstorming session show that there are seeds for action. We want to continue this conversation!
How do we make this an intergenerational undertaking?

1. Partner with school groups, create young ambassadors for aging.

2. Explore a Music and Memory program – joint program with high school kids and seniors.

3. Get the business community to incorporate intergenerational work into their Corporate Social Responsibility.

4. Promote film festivals such as the ‘Legacy Film Festival’ across generations.

5. Take advantage of existing, naturally occurring communities, i.e. faith communities, when planning community initiatives.

What ideas do you have for age and disability friendly SF?

1. Support elders and people with disabilities in the role of community leaders (paid and volunteer).

2. Inlaw apartments that are now legalized should be accessibly designed to allow people to age in community.

3. Create sharing meal or other share projects (see also the

How do we make people care before they need it?

1. Share ideas/solutions/programs with others around the nation, around the world – create Resource Network, Open Platform.

2. Build compassion in the community starting with the young.

3. Build awareness about interdependence rather than independence.
Presenter Cathy Spensley is co-chair of the San Francisco Age and Disability Workgroup which has led San Francisco’s application to the World Health Organization’s global network for Agefriendly Cities.

Our host for the evening, IDEO has launched a domain on aging under the leadership of Gretchen Addi.

Both Catherine Spensley and Gretchen Addi are members of AHWGO’s Advisory Committee.

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