Creative Retirement Center

By Jim Selman | Bio

CBS Sunday Morning, one of my favorite shows, is a TV magazine filled with interesting and uplifting stories of American life. The brainchild of Charles Kuralt (who loved offbeat stories that were shared in his bestselling travelogue “Off the Road” in the 1970s), the show has been running now for 30 years. Kuralt’s vision continues to entertain and inspire with current host Charles Osgood. Recently, there was a story about a project of the University of North Carolina in Ashland called the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement.

The goal of the project is to create an ‘age-integrated’ society. NCCCR is all about research, lifelong learning and leadership. I find the whole enterprise to be very visionary and exciting. Apparently, everyone in Ashland is getting on the bandwagon and designing the community around many of the same intentions as the Blue Zones Vitality Project in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

There are about 1,800 ‘members’ in the Center. About half are technically ‘Boomers’ and the rest somewhat older. They operate in a campus community environment and have their own building associated with the University. About 450 individuals are actively involved in student mentoring, inter-university consulting, teaching and working on various service projects. The remainder are primarily students and participate in a wide variety of special interest groups. Boomers are not only participating in this rich learning environment but are also actively teaching and leading various projects in the community.

The point to this vision and all of the energy it inspires is to recognize we need to build communities that are attractive to elders and ‘youngers’ alike. Research is showing that the most important variables to having a “life worth living” throughout our entire lives are our relationships, our community and having a purpose beyond just getting through the day.

One statistic some will find surprising is that 7 out of 10 Boomers surveyed no longer consider retirement as a goal and look forward to working all their lives—although perhaps expressing themselves in many different ways. Indeed, when listening to the NCCCR philosophy, one can see that the distinction between work and play is blurring and more and more people are realizing that it is a false distinction. There is just ‘life’. The question is …

Are we living our lives or are our circumstances determining our experience and the choices we have?

© 2009 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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