Image from The Reinvention Convention flyer

From Aging the Possibilities to Reinvention Convention: A Journey Continues

Posted on December 11, 2017 by Stacy Sternberg
On November 9, 2017, more than 150 people gathered for the Reinvention Convention: Reimagining Perceptions of Aging, the first collaboration between Age-Friendly Sarasota (AFS), Friendship Centers, JFCS of the Suncoast Seniors, and Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy, which shed a vibrant light on the perils of ageism.

Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation (TPF) opened the candid discussion with highlights about the local age-friendly movement: "The journey of community engagement on creating our future through the lens of life-long living."

Sarasota became the first age-friendly community in Florida in 2015, but efforts for the movement began years before in 2006 with Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence (SCOPE). SCOPE hosted a community engagement process called Aging the Possibilities where participants focused on possibilities instead of problems and held five Winter Forums with sold-out audiences on issues related to healthy aging and longevity opportunities.

Through this process, the Independent Transportation Network – iTNSunCoast was incubated by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and the Jewish Family & Children's Service of the Suncoast is now a stand-alone 501(c)(3). Also, The Institute for the Ages was conceived to use Sarasota as the living laboratory for market research and, while not sustainable, did present a national Positive Aging Conference.

In 2009, as TPF's work began, TPF selected Aging with Dignity as one of its nine legacy initiatives. Again, TPF collaborated with SCOPE who engaged Kathy Black, a USF Sarasota-Manatee aging expert to conduct a participatory research study. After publishing the findings in many academic journals and presenting at conferences, Kathy learned about the World Health Organization's (WHO) global network and spoke, on her own, with county commissioners to propel this work forward. From there, TPF felt like there was an opportunity to support a community engagement movement.

In 2015, Age-Friendly Sarasota worked with 1,200 survey participants and 8 focus groups-including people from every zip code and every decade older than 50 years of age, to become the first age-friendly community in Florida to join WHO's Age-Friendly Network.

Since 2015, with the leadership of Kathy Black, Age-Friendly Sarasota created an Action Plan for 2017-2020. In 2017, The Patterson Foundation gifted the community with the largest Age-Friendly Festival in the world and first in our nation.

The Phoenix rose from the ashes of the Winter Forums and Positive Aging Conference as The Reinvention Convention, which inspired attendees with nationally recognized speakers: Barbara Shipley, Senior Vice President, AARP; Dr. Bill Thomas, physician, author and entrepreneur, Eden Alternative; and Liz Redford, Implicit Bias Research Project. AFS is proud to partner with the Reinvention Convention and to create an age-friendly future together.

Carol Kranitz's blog highlights ways the Reinvention Convention worked to shatter ageism: The Category Is Aging and the Answers????

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