Welcome to our new blog site. Huge thanks to all who participated in Aging Activisms 2015 – an amazing two days, October 16th and 17th, of panels, roundtables, singing, dancing, discussion, and fun. In the words of one incredible participant, Liz Stone, my message to those of you who attended, and to so many others who work daily to make the world fairer and more sustainable, is this: “you are all superheroes!”.
Pitched as a kind of “experiment,” an alternative symposium, Aging Activisms brought together scholars, activists, and students from across four generations, at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, in a dynamic and meaningful conversation about aging and activism. We opened with the following guiding questions: What does activist aging look like and mean for different people and groups? What are the material, ideological and personal contexts which encourage or discourage activism across the lifecourse and particularly in later life? How does activism in later life relate to people’s longer histories with political/ social movements? What can facilitate activist aging, and in what ways can community-academic collaborations be part of this process?
One of our goals was to think critically about (and shake up!) the process of what typically happens at this kind of meeting. We sought to create conversations across generations and across academic and community positions by launching the event with a Cabaret that celebrated and showcased older women’s diverse activisms; having research panels that combined academic, student, and community participation; a roundtable that explicitly focused on women’s stories and experiences; and breakout sessions that allowed for smaller group discussions. The results were overwhelming. As one participant wrote in reflection, “it stands as a model for an event at which all ages and sectors were integrated. For the day and a half the boundaries/positions dissolved, as we found so much common ground, so many common questions.”
Deep appreciation goes out to all of our presenters, performers, facilitators, note-takers, and photographers. Ben Hodson donated the amazing image at the top of this site, and Myles Connor from Renegade Apparel did a terrific job with silk-screening this onto bags for all of us. Profound thanks to Pat Evans, Jeannine Crowe, Hummingbird Chocolate, BE Catering, Hummingbird Academy Yoga, Traill College, Ziysah von Bieberstein, and Mark Skinner – for a variety of critical support. Thanks also to our funders: the Trent Centre for Aging Society, the Canada Research Chairs Program, and Trent University’s Research Office.
Over the next few weeks, we will turn this blog into a living archive of this transformative event, with some concrete ideas for what might come next too. Stay tuned and come back often!
With gratitude and hope,
May Chazan, Jesse Whattam, and Melissa Baldwin