For Release: Monday, April 27, 2020
Contact: Su-Yin Bickner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Before the pandemic shelter-in-place order was on the horizon, a local nonprofit organization serving the independent aging population had an innovative idea for sparking creativity among its members.
Ashby Village, a membership organization that helps its members age and thrive while remaining in their own homes, had planned to conduct a half-day Creative Aging meeting to showcase the creative efforts of some of its members. The presenters were to describe their personal artistic journeys and challenge their fellow members to find their own creative outlets. Rather than cancel the event when the self-isolation orders disrupted the schedule, the planning group decided this was an even better time for members to stretch their artistic wings, and they set up a Zoom meeting to present the initiative to the general membership. They were convinced that creativity was an important component of successful aging, and they were delighted when 65 members and volunteers mastered the software and joined them online.
“We hoped that any of our members who were actively creating or had secretly always wanted to would want to attend,” says Ashby Village Executive Director Andy Gaines, who was once a dance therapist. “People who did attend through Zoom commented on how inspirational the event was.” Ashby Village serves Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, Kensington, El Cerrito and Emeryville.
A number of the presenters talked about why the shelter-in-place, characterized by both solitude and anxiety, is an excellent time to explore and launch creative efforts.
Peter Sussman, a retired journalist and author who found his late-life passion in photography, said his work is an “antidote” to the current stress. He said he relished the creative engagement and freedom his photography had provided in times of physical limitations.
Russ Ellis, former Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Affairs at UC Berkeley, and now a songwriter, sculptor and painter, mused about how the corona virus threat is influencing him. “Being old and in the path of the virus, I felt an urgency to write something for my children about my past.”