The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

On January 29th, Covia Community Services is celebrating creative aging with the Creative Aging Symposium. The symposium, which can be attended online or by conference call, celebrates how creativity shapes our sense of self and guides us to more purposeful living.

Both individual participants and senior communities nationwide are welcome to register for the 3rd Annual Creative Aging Symposium, occurring on January 29th from 9am to 12:15pm PST. The focus for this year’s symposium is on how creativity, a resource available to us all, builds resiliency. Through the wisdom of a talented group of presenters with a variety of creative backgrounds, the symposium will uncover the potential for imagination and provide tips for daily practices of self-expression.

Social Call Director Katie Wade, who created and spearheads the symposium, notes “Older adults want to explore new social connections, deepen their sense of self, try new things, be healthy, be of value to their community, and be seen as valuable. Creative aging concepts and programming provide a compelling solution to many of these priorities.”

Creativity is often associated with art, but one of the goals of the symposium is to demonstrate how creativity encompasses far more, such as trying a new approach when solving a problem to organizing space more efficiently. The Creative Aging Symposium seeks to help participants understand how they use creativity every day, even if they wouldn’t initially describe themselves as creative.

The concept of creative aging was originally heralded by Dr. Gene Cohen, who asserted the potential that creativity brings to aging. Inspired by Dr. Cohen’s work, Wade created the Creative Aging Symposium as a way to teach and inform more people about the positive effects of creativity and our immense capacity for creative growth, especially as we age.  

Wade particularly values the concept of ‘little c’ creativity as described by Dr. Gene Cohen: “Little ‘c’ creativity is represented by creative acts that can change the path ahead of us and bring something new into existence – perhaps how we do a daily task, approach a problem, or relate to our family.”

The 2020 symposium presenters will explore creativity in its numerous forms, including little ‘c’ creativity, and how it can help build resiliency as we age. These presenters include geriatrician, writer, and educator Louise Aronson; storyteller and co-founder of MiHistoria.net Albertina Zarazúa Padilla; dancer and choreographer Nancy Cranbourne; artist and activist Edythe Boone; and eco-friendly style icon Debra Rapoport. The wrap-up experience will be led by author and community organizer David “Lucky” Goff.

Speaking about this year’s symposium, Wade notes that she is “looking forward to hearing how attendees will be inspired to explore creativity a bit more in their daily lives or use a creative practice to get through difficult life circumstances.”

The Creative Aging Symposium is part of Covia Community Services’ dedication to creative aging as a way to reframe the narrative around aging through exploration, programming, and events. This takes a number of forms within Covia, from the Creative Aging Symposium to Ruth’s Table programming and Social Call’s integration of creative learning methods like The Hummingbird Project’s Joyful Moments cards.    

On February 4th, Leading Age California is hosting their Golden Gate Regional Event all about creative aging at Ruth’s Table. At Make Something Together: The Power of Creative Programming Ruth’s Table Director Jessica McCracken and Social Call Director Katie Wade will lead a conversation for professionals in the Aging Services field on creative aging and how it can be utilized to increase social connection and change the narrative around aging. More information about the event and registration can be accessed here.

If you are interested in learning more about creative aging and its benefits, please join us on January 29th for the Creative Aging Symposium and at Ruth’s Table on February 4th for the Leading Age California event.

Register here for the Creative Aging Symposium.

Register here for The Power of Creative Programming.

Ruth’s Table remembers fondly their friend and participant Chuck Raymond, who was an accomplished architectural designer with a love of creative expression. Chuck died in May of 2018 and made a significant gift in his will to support Ruth’s Table, leaving a legacy to creative aging.

Charles “Chuck” Raymond’s passions in life included design, architecture and an extensive network of close friends. Mr. Raymond graduated on full scholarship with honors from the University of Michigan, School of Architecture. He established a well-respected architectural firm, Raymond Designs of Atlanta, Georgia, concentrating for 30 years on commercial airport retail.

Long-time friend Jerry Brown, Covia Senior Director of Affordable Communities, recalls meeting Chuck through a mutual friend who was on his staff as an interior designer. “Chuck was like Cary Grant,” Jerry recalls. “He was debonair, intelligent, and loved the arts, fashion and design.”

Chuck also loved to travel, visiting museums and enjoying the cuisine and culture from London to Paris, Barcelona, Malta, Australia, New Zealand, and Buenos Aires. Jerry remembers the New Year’s Eve dinner and fireworks he shared with Chuck in 2005 at Jules Verne atop the Eiffel Towers. “We also shared family Thanksgiving dinner in 2009 at Windows of the Worlds atop New York’s World Trade Center,” Jerry recalls.

Chuck retired to Palm Springs in 2017 and, through his friendship with Jerry, discovered the range of programs supporting creative expression at Ruth’s Table at Bethany Center. Chuck was an avid art collector with special interest in Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. At Ruth’s Table, he purchased two pieces from the gallery showing of artist Jennifer Ewing’s “Spirit Boats,” meant to symbolize passage and metaphysically hold a person as they journey.  

Ruth’s Table Director Jessica McCracken remembers fondly that Chuck participated in the Ruth’s Table community production of its 50th Anniversary artwork “Crochet Jam” by artist Ramekon Artwisters. The piece hangs in the lobby of Bethany Center.  “Through it we’ll always have a little bit of Chuck’s spirit with us,” she said. 

Jerry noted that Chuck will be remembered by residents, participants, staff, and board members for his love of the arts, fashion, puns, cuisine and world travel that he connected with the diverse seniors of Bethany Center and Ruth’s Table.

Chuck’s estate gift to the Bethany Center Foundation will help support programs at Ruth’s Table that bring people together in creative expression, inspiring Bethany Center residents in creativity and wellness exercise to stimulate the brain, the body and the spirit.

If you have included Covia Foundation or the Bethany Center Foundation in your will or estate plan, please let us know so that we can say thank you. For information on how to include a program or community you care about in your will or estate plan, please contact Covia Foundation Executive Director Katharine Miller at 925.956.7414 or kmiller@covia.org. We’d love to help you make a difference, supporting something you care about.

Introduction to the Creative Aging Symposium
Presented by Katie Wade, Associate Director of Social Call and Well Connected

This is our second year hosting the Creative Aging Symposium, Power to Change. This online symposium is a place for us to gather around a really profound notion: that aging is a journey ripe with opportunities for creative exploration. This may seem radical. It’s contrary to society’s story that aging is all about loss, but this view of aging as creative growth has been an emerging thread for quite some time, and I’m so appreciative that it’s now reaching our collective conscious. I’ve never been so excited to become an older adult myself.

I recently read this quote in The Creative Age by Gene Cohen, whose work laid the foundation for the current movement that we call creative aging. “When we talk about creativity, I’m not referring simply to the paint on canvas type of artistic creativity, nor do I mean those visionary thinkers whose imaginative ideas and inventions have shaped or shaken civilizations. Creativity is built into our species, innate in every one of us, whether we are plumbers, professors, short order cooks or investment bankers. It is ours, whether we are career oriented or home centered. It is the flame that heats the human spirit and kindles our desires for inner growth and self-expression. Our creativity may emerge in many different ways, from the realm of art, science, politics, to the pursuit of an advanced college degree, a new hobby, or a public spirited community activism.”

So today, for the symposium, I invite you to think about your own creativity and how it relates to growing older. What is it about being older that puts you in a unique position for creative growth?

Click here to read the full transcript of the 2019 Creative Aging Symposium.