Culture change starts with people change and people change starts with community and conversation (preferably over good food!). This concept is captured by the ancient latin term “convivium.” Simply put, the pleasure of good food shared in good company is a springboard to conversation and, sometimes, action.
During each stop of the Age of Disruption Tour — in which I have the honor of performing — Dr. Thomas sits down to lunch with a small group of community leaders and activist invited by AARP and local sponsors. During the lunch Dr. Thomas facilitates a conversation where all voices are heard and people begin to know each other more deeply. The theme of the lunch is “Disrupt Aging” in honor of AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkin’s signature initiative. The conversations are always thought provoking and meaningful, and personally my favorite part of each day on tour.
As the conversation deepens ideas begin to emerge, diverse at first, but then like stars alighting one at a time, patterns or constellations begin to form and the bigger picture soon becomes clear.
This swing the conversations were about what each of us has learned on our journey with aging, as a personal experience and from a professional standpoint. The ideas that emerged were thought provoking and paradoxical showing how much we have learned, and how much we still have to learn. How much things have changed and how much more change is called for.
In honor of the process of constellating ideas, takeaways from two of the lunches are below in image form. A special thanks to Julie Sebastian for showing us the Harvest way of note taking and inspiring these pieces.
Hello, I am a student in Aging 200 at the Erickson school of Aging. Reading your article made me think back on a story that my grand mother shared with me about her mother, my great grandmother. My great grandmother started losing her memory in her 70’s. She started forgetting family members like my mother and my uncle. To help with this matter my grandmother started having weekend dinners where my mother and my uncle would come each time and spark my great grandmothers memory. My grandmother said that those dinners made my great grandmother happy and for one day each week she would talk, smile and act as though she was never losing her memory. I agree that conviviums are great ways to keep the aging population down on depression and high on stimulating conversation to keep there minds active. An amazing read!
Hello, I am an AGNG 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging and I loved this post. This automatically made me think of Spain and how they constantly have huge block dinners, where all the families come together over a giant potluck meal in the street on one big long table. I think this is an important part of the culture there that helps foster respect for elders and a greater sense of family, something that has become lost in America. This relates to my current course in that we have discussed at length how older members of the community are seen as less valuable or not worthy of respect. Finding ways through culture and tradition to bring back this balance will only serve to improve quality of life and the community as a whole. Thank you for sharing, and I hope we can continue to work on diversity through thinks like the conviviums.
Hello, I am an AGNG 200 student at the Erickson School of Aging. Conversation among a group of people is the best way to share ideas and form new relationships. These conviviums can help the aging population so that they don’t recluse themselves from society. Many elderly, who live by themselves or have little interaction with friends and family, may develop a sense of isolation and depression over time. Not only do these conviviums prevent depression, but also help promote active minds, thus preventing memory loss associated with aging and maybe even postponing dementia. Many aging and elderly are masters in their specific fields, where occupational experiences are imbedded into their crystalized intelligence. These conviviums can provoke talks where they can synthesize information, and/or promote discussion to a topic, which puts their fluid intelligence to their test. I also really enjoy the picture. It’s a very powerful and creative way of showing the individual ideas all combined into a whole.