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Are We Ready for the 100 Year Life?
"The New Map of Life" and thoughts on how arts education will figure into longer living and learning.
Hello Creative Aging Resource Newsletter Subscribers!
Lifetime Arts has commissioned me to serve as lead curator for the Creative Aging Resource, the new go-to hub for information, inspiration and instructive examples of programs in the rapidly expanding field of creative aging.
This opportunity is a gift.
It gives me license to examine the multiple fields related to aging, creativity and health, and to showcase works that offer new or exceptional insights into creative aging.
Most importantly, this opportunity also allows me to learn about and surface useful information about dedicated teaching artists and arts organizations, community programmers, researchers, and agency leaders who are advancing knowledge and best practices around creative aging.
Welcome to issue no. 1. Thank you for subscribing. Please spread the word to your colleagues who may benefit from access to this information.
— Diantha Dow Schull
In this issue we are featuring “The New Map of Life,” a report developed by the Stanford Center on Longevity, which summarizes a remarkable and timely vision for the “100-year life” that is likely to be the norm for the next generations.
Organized around a set of principles for transforming attitudes, institutions, policies, and social investments, “The New Map of Life” posits “momentous and creative changes” in the ways we lead our lives “at every stage.” It is intended as a template for how we, as a society, can plan for the health, security and happiness of future centenarians.
“The New Map of Life” builds on research and trends across many sectors indicating that nearly half of today’s five-year olds are likely to live to 100 and, as adults, they will work, create, contribute and learn throughout their lifetimes. It asks: “Are We Ready?” and it identifies key societal changes that will be needed to ensure vitality and equity for all during their entire lifespans. These include the needs to:
Change perceptions of our later years, i.e., “Age Diversity is a Net Positive”;
Invest in young people and adults to help ensure the health and vitality of older adults, i.e., “Invest in Future Centenarians;” and
Support the health needs of all generations, i.e. “Align Health Spans to Life Spans.”
“Learn Throughout Life” is one of the key principles for the 100-year life. As such, it provides an essential link to learning in the arts. “Learn Throughout Life” implies not only re-arranging when and how we learn, but also the importance of opportunities for continuous learning — after school, during our lengthened work lives, and throughout our longer and healthier lives. As a core principle of the new long life blueprint, “Learn Throughout Life” implies the importance of varied and continuous access to educational experiences — including participation in the arts — as an aspect of the new aging society.
“The New Map of Life” is not the only resource developed by the Stanford Center on Longevity that is relevant to the work of arts educators, creative aging programmers, and others engaged in expanding participatory arts to active older adults. In 2018 The Center launched The Longevity Project, which fosters research and public conversation to build awareness of the implications of longer life. The Longevity Project and the Center on Longevity collaborate to develop content and “cultivate a new awareness of the longevity challenge.”
Three additional recent Creative Aging Resource entries complement and enrich the “The New Map of Life” template:
Dr. Laura Carstensen, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, provides this excellent summary of new understandings regarding life expectancy and the need for societal transformation across the lifespan to ensure the security and quality of our future 100-year lives. She states: “It is our obligation to create a vision of what a society can do to keep people healthy, happy and engaged as centenarians in the next century.”
The 2020 Longevity Summit, convened leaders from multiple sectors to discuss “the implications of the 100-year life.” Building on the knowledge that we are living longer and healthier than previous generations, the Summit elicited visions for how society can restructure across sectors, including education.
Two presentations, “Re-inventing the Second Half of Life,” and “Reinventing the University for Lifelong Learning,” provide context for considering how continuous learning, including participation in the arts, can contribute to a healthier and more vital “age of longevity.”
The Lifelong Learning Virtual Panel convened by The Longevity Project in Collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity brought together experts in the sociology of education, global education and digital learning to discuss how the coronavirus is changing — and providing new options for — educational opportunities for learners of all ages.
Presenters reviewed the ways in which the pandemic is accelerating trends towards continuous learning across the lifespan and new visions for “long life learning” that are relevant to the work of arts educators and those involved in creative aging programming.
Together, these four resources offer all of us who are learning about or engaged in creative aging, positive aging, and arts education for older adults an overview of the most significant and advanced new thinking regarding what it will take to create a long life society.
The concepts examined are both distinct and overlapping; the theme of lifelong learning is consistently present. They all help us to imagine how arts education will fit into the learning mix — throughout the lifespan — and to envision how creative expression and access to the arts will be essential for the quality of life for young and future generations.
About Lifetime Arts
Lifetime Arts is the national leader in the development and dissemination of creative aging capacity building services. Training, technical assistance and innovative resources help catalyze arts education programming in organizations that serve older adults including museums, public libraries, arts and senior service organizations.
About Diantha Dow Schull
Diantha Dow Schull is Principal and Founder of DDSchull Associates LLC, providing advisory and training services for museums, libraries, foundations and nonprofits. She is also a cultural organization program specialist and has led the development of major national creative aging programs for public libraries in collaboration with Lifetime Arts. She has written articles and books for museum and library professionals, including, “Boomers and Beyond: Reconsidering the Roles of Libraries,” with Pauline Rothstein, PhD. Diantha has been part of Lifetime Arts’s extended team for over a decade.
The Creative Aging Resource Newsletter is made possible through the generous support of E.A. Michelson Philanthropy.