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Penngrove Station by Lyndi Brown - January 2017

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Penngrove Station  - January 2017

by Lyndi Brown

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”Dalai Lama XIV

Over the holidays, my Facebook feed revealed that folks were apologetic when they posted photos of gingerbread houses, trees and funny holiday videos. Why? Personal joys and silliness seem in contrast to the political mood. Don’t we need both sides – dark and light? A little optimism leads me to empowerment rather than cower-ment. Looking ahead, the days will grow longer as light returns. We’ll find our footing and bring our best thinking and actions to this new year. I’ve always believed in the power of building community. See you there.

The “Age-Wave” is Coming 

I had the pleasure of attending a symposium titled Envisioning an Age-Friendly Sonoma County (Dec. 9). The large room was filled with 50 or 60 people. We heard from three experts about the coming “age-wave” when 25% of the county’s population will be ages 65+ by 2030. This poses challenges and opportunities in the fields of aging and land use planning. We gathered to hear some of the research and learn what other communities are enacting.

Think about curb cuts, a given in city codes today. But it wasn’t always so. In the early 70s, disability activists championed this idea yet it works for everyone – parents pushing strollers, kids on skateboards, travelers with rolling suitcases, and delivery carts. 

Three speakers talked about a vision for age-friendly communities. A sparkling takeaway: Millennials and Baby Boomers both prefer to live (and thrive) in urban areas where they enjoy walkability to shops, culture and transportation. The generations share a commonality: driving is not the primary mode for either group. The suburbs were designed for people who could drive. Suburbs were a good place to raise families while the mom-taxi was in operation. Today, every teen isn’t “driven to drive” and driving becomes problematic as we age. What happens when we can no longer drive one mile let alone ten? Our destinations for connection and sustenance are still the same – grocery store, library, senior center, culture, coffee shop and spiritual community – but how do we get there? 

You’re going to be hearing a lot more about these concepts. Thank you to hosting this, Aging Together Sonoma County. Learn more and sign up for ways to get involved at agefriendlysonomacounty.org. Or Google the speakers: Don Weden, Santa Clara County Principal Planner, Retired; A Community Advisor and Educator; Anabel Pelham, PhD, Founding Director, Center for Age Friendly Excellence and Professor of Gerontology, SFSU; and Christina Clem, Associate State Director, Community, AARP California

Another great resource is the non-profit 880 Cities. Their 8 80 Rule is: “We are convinced that if everything we do in our public spaces is great for everyone from 8 years old to 80 years old, we will end up with healthy and vibrant communities for all”. See 880cities.org/.

Village Network of Petaluma ( Penngrove too!) 

When asked “what disease is the biggest hazard to American health?”, the U.S. Surgeon General replied that isolation is the biggest threat to mental and physical health (according to an interviewer Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times). Not cancer, not heart disease, not diabetes. We can make adjustments to prevent isolation.

This is a great time to learn more about what citizens aged 50+ are doing to continue living active, engaged lives, in their own homes. The non-profit has 70 members and 70 volunteers who are committed to forging fun and meaningful relationships as they age together. You may be plugged into the gardening or birding interest groups, whether you are actively pursue those interests or have expertise to offer. Members call the office number to request a ride, computer tutoring, light home repairs or a friendly visit. And don’t forget the potlucks, never! The next introductory Welcome meeting is January 19 at 11 am at the office at 402 Petaluma Blvd. No., Petaluma. New members who join by January 31 receive 1 month free membership. Future meetings are February 18 and March 16. See www.villagenetworkofpetaluma.org or call 707-776-6055.

All are welcome to contribute! Send your news and thoughts during the first week of each month to include in next month’s column.