NEW INITIATIVE IN TULSA, OKLAHOMA
ADDRESSES SHIFTING DEMOGRAPHICS
"Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I've got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." George Bernard Shaw
We're living longer now than ever before. By the year 2030, 1 in every 5 Americans will be over
65 years of age. For the first time in history,
and probably for the rest of human history,
people age 65 and older will outnumber
children under age five.
This demographic shift creates the potential for rich intergenerational connections across seven or more generations: your own generation, three generations before you – parents, grandparents,
great-grandparents – and three generations after you – children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The change in the generational landscape brings with it both challenges and opportunities. The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Legacy Project have partnered to apply a model for Legacy Community Building that has been over a decade in development and goes beyond other age-friendly models. It addresses changing demographics in the context of financial realities, environmental imperatives, and the social needs of all generations. It's a bold, big-picture approach unlike any other.
The ultimate goal of the Tulsa Across the Generations initiative is to make Tulsa a great city in which to be born, grow up, have a career and raise a family, and then retire and stay connected to family and community. In other words, a city that recognizes, respects, and meets the needs – physical, emotional, and social – of all ages and brings generations together in support of each other.
The Legacy Community Building approach takes into consideration needs across a person's lifetime, needs between generations, and even global needs like the environment, the quintessential intergenerational challenge.
The Tulsa Across Generations initiative is looking at ten broad areas: Education and Lifelong Learning; Employment and Economic
Development; Healthcare and Healthy Living; Social Supports and
Safety; Community Development and Sites for Gathering; Housing
and Development/Land Use; Transportation and Mobility; Communication and Connection; Civic Engagement; Policy and
Click below to view an introductory video about the Tulsa Across the Generations initiative.
Current Highlights for Tulsa Across the Generations
Find out more about the One City, One Book program, sponsored by The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation and The Williams Companies. One City, One Book is a community education and participation program that's part of the Across the Generations initiative. Tulsans of all ages, families, schools, libraries, community groups are invited to read and discuss the award-winning book Dream by Susan V. Bosak. We have tips for doing an intergenerational reading and activity ideas, the Listen to a Life Essay Contest, an opportunity to write a Life Statement, the Dream Exhibit at the Tulsa Historical Society Museum, and creative ways you can share your dreams for a better future for all ages.
Download the Action Kit developed for the October, 2011 Tulsa Across the Generations Summit. There's still time to add your ideas and comments…
As the Legacy Project completes additional research for the Across Generations initiative, researcher, educator, and Legacy Project Chair Susan V. Bosak invites you to contact her with your comments – your needs and concerns, what's working and what's not, and ideas for solutions. This is an important contribution to the ongoing discussion.
Jim Carroll of Aging in Place Remodeling was the winner of Lunch With The Mayor at the Tulsa Across the Generations Summit. Mr. Carroll believes strongly in the goals of the Across Generations initiative. "I'm a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Our company's mission, and my passion, is to help people stay in their homes for as long as they wish, safely and comfortably. Quite often a home can pose difficulties. Things like entry and egress, as well as mobility around the home, can be greatly affected by physical, cognitive and/or visual problems. It's important to conduct a thorough review of a home with regard to safety and accessibility."
One of the many ideas at the Summit that captured Mr. Carroll's attention is the accessory dwelling unit (ADU). The City of Santa Cruz, CA has revised its zoning to allow this housing solution for older adults. ADUs are private and complete housing units either in or adjacent to single family homes. Older homeowners can supplement their monthly income by renting out an ADU or themselves become ADU tenants in order to remain in their neighborhoods. Adult children can put in an ADU so elder parents can be close by for family support. These intergenerational living arrangements can provide more affordable housing options, increase property values for entire neighborhoods, and enhance safety by having known tenants nearby. ADUs also increase residential density, which helps make communities more sustainable.
This is one of many exciting possibilities as part of an intergenerational Legacy Community Building model being explored with citizens and groups in Tulsa.
Word is getting out about the Across Generations initiative. Here's an excerpt from an editorial by Janet Pearson in Tulsa World:
The graying of Tulsa will have profound implications throughout all sectors of the community: healthcare, transportation, housing, the workforce, among others.
[Across Generations] events and activities over time will lead to the creation of the model that local and even international leaders believe will be copied throughout the nation, even around the world.
Tulsa's intergenerational mission could help lead to an entirely new breed of community. And as Boomers enter seniorhood, it's becoming rapidly evident how much our communities need to change.
As envisioned by [Legacy Project Chair] Susan Bosak, "We need homes and communities that are multigenerational. They cannot be fragmented, with youths, adults, and elders going their separate ways. Rather, they should be age-inclusive, with different generations recognizing – and acting upon – their mutual interests in building family and community."
But up until now, Americans have seen fit to "divide our communities and our activities by age – young people in schools, older people in retirement communities or facilities."
"We talk a lot about all the ways we need to help older people. But, perhaps, the old can help us. It's the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human," says Bosak.
Receive regular updates on the Across Generations initiative in Tulsa by signing up for the Legacy Project e-newsletter.
The Legacy Project at www.legacyproject.org is a national, multigenerational, big-picture project. We work with children, teens, adults, and elders to develop personal potential (our LifeDreams program), build relationships (our Across Generations program), and make a difference in our communities and world (the Our World program).