“Will everyone please take out your cell phones and…. turn them ON!” Implores Dr. Bill Thomas at the start of all of his ChangingAging Tour performances. Social change and personal growth move at the speed of relationships, for better or worse we are connected most often through our smart phones.
For the 2017 ChangingAging Tour, we are taking a page from grassroots movements to break down boundaries and inspire genuine multi-generational engagement. We are now organizing a series of webinars with partners in our 2017 tour cities to introduce specific approaches that have the most potential to support age inclusive community building.
One technique we will introduce is based on a Liberating Structure called “Social Network Webbing.” This simple exercise any group can use to visually map their informal relationship connections and decide how to take action around a collective purpose. By shifting away from top-down control individuals are encouraged to take action by showing them the power of their personal connections. These loose connections — even friends of friends — can be engaged in a way that has a powerful influence on progress without complex strategies or big investments in planning.
In this digital age of Facebook and Twitter, we emphasize the size of our networks or number of followers, often neglecting the actual human interactions so important to nurturing our relationships.
I recently introduced this exercise to Age Friendly Seattle as a way to begin expanding the coalition to include representatives under the “eight age friendly domains of livability.” The outcome was an amazing visual representation of our collective network. It clearly highlighted members of our group who are connected to influential people that could help us advance age friendly community goals.
Tapping into our relationships is especially important in building a movement such as ours because ageism spans all sectors of society. We have to engage not only aging-specific industries such as long term health care, but also education, the arts, and private and public institutions.
Hidden within each of our social networks are these powerful connections that can truly Change Aging. Take the first steps in unlocking your resources; sign up for regular updates from ChangingAging.org, click here to request an invitation to attend our next webinar on March 9 and get tickets to a tour performance nearest you!