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News and perspectives from Covia.

In January, Covia held the 3rd annual Creative Aging Symposium. Creative experts from a variety of fields came together to talk about creativity and how it can help boost resilience. The full recording of the symposium is now available online, broken out by speaker so that you can revisit a particular point or watch the symposium in its entirety. 

Speakers from this year’s symposium include dancer and choreographer Nancy Cranbourne; storyteller and co-founder of MiHistoria.net Albertina Zarazua Padilla; eco-friendly style icon Debra Rapoport; artist and activist Edythe Boone; geriatrician, writer, and educator Louise Aronson; and author and community organizer David “Lucky” Goff.

Takeaways from the 2020 Symposium

Nancy Cranboure kicks off the 2020 Creative Aging Symposium by discussing how dancing is an act of radical self-acceptance and how it imbues inner joy as discovered through the creation of her dance troupe 40 Women Over 40. She then leads in a moment of movement and dance that demonstrates the joy of movement at any age. 

Albertina Padilla offers a moment of creative reflection on reinvention and how to move our stories forward. She highlights concrete tips on how creativity can lead to resiliency framed through the lens of telling and understanding our own personal story.

Style icon Debra Rapoport is interviewed by Julie Pfitzinger, Senior Editor for Features at Next Avenue, and discusses the personal aspect of creativity.  She talks about how picking out what she wears every day has become a moment of meditation and how personal style helps us understand ourselves. Rapoport expounds on the fact that everyone is creative in their own way.

Offering a creative moment of reflection, Edythe Boone discusses how each unique neighborhood inspires the artwork that she creates in that community. She highlights the importance of incorporating a community in the creation of murals, where they are given a platform to highlight an injustice in the community or immortalize the contributions of specific community members.

Dr. Louise Aronson, geriatrician and bestselling author of Elderhood, shares the importance of stories, including in medicine, and how it is important to be intentional with and conscious of the words we use when talking about aging. Aronson also discusses the importance of imagination in aging and how “we are the artists of ourselves.”

To wrap up the Creative Aging Symposium experience, David ‘Lucky’ Goff discusses how as we age we get closer to ourselves and in this we get closer to the universe as a whole. Goff also discusses the importance of community and the ability to share stories within that community that embrace aging.

The Importance of Creativity  

“Creativity is the key ingredient to strengthening resiliency, and thus, it should be an ongoing part of our lives,” notes Creative Aging Symposium creator Katie Wade. “I’m thrilled that we now have the Creative Aging Symposium recordings accessible to us throughout the year. It means our creativity can be sparked at any moment!”

The symposium’s takeaways are particularly pertinent during this time of physical distancing as we find new ways to connect and boost our resiliency. If you are interested in delving deeper into each speaker with a group of interested older adults, Well Connected is currently in the middle of reviewing the symposium, one speaker a week through July 8th. The session meets on Wednesdays and are hosted by Creative Aging Symposium creator and Social Call Director Katie Wade and Well Connected volunteer Nancy Walton-House. These sessions have fostered engaging conversations and a deeper understanding of the importance of creativity. Well Connected participant Michelle notes “I’ve learned that creativity is not just about art but using your creative ideas in other aspects in life.”

We would love to hear what your favorite takeaways are from the symposium and if the symposium inspires you to pursue a new creative endeavor. If you are interested in learning more about creative aging and getting the latest news on next year’s symposium, be sure to sign up for our creative aging newsletter on the symposium video page.  

As we shelter in place, many people are taking up new creative projects, everything from knitting to baking or even learning a new musical instrument. Ruth’s Table is celebrating the power of creativity to lift our spirits and bring us together with the Enduring Inspiration: Creativity at Home initiative.

Ruth’s Table, part of Covia’s Community Services, is an arts nonprofit committed to increasing access to creative opportunities for older adults and adults with disabilities located at Bethany Center Senior Housing, a Covia Affordable Community. Through the Enduring Inspiration initiative Ruth’s Table is encouraging individuals sheltering in place to express themselves through creative projects with the help of creative care kits, support from teaching artists, and virtual classes. The culmination of the project is the Enduring Inspiration exhibition, a gallery show that will feature submitted art pieces created during this time.

Ruth’s Table Director Jessica McCracken notes, “Knowing that people were going to have to stay at home for a long duration of time, our first thought was around the risks associated with social isolation. Ruth’s Table programming has proven that the arts are an incredible tool for bringing people together. Enduring Inspiration was designed to bring a sense of hope and offer a way to process the magnitude of this experience.”

One way that this has manifested is with creative care kits, which include art-making activities (paired with supplies) that participants can use at home. Ruth’s Table has partnered with Covia Creative Spark to create Creative Spark worksheets, which are fun prompts intended to spark inspiration. Worksheets vary greatly, from turning a provided squiggle into a drawing to curating a personal art collection. An example of the worksheets can be found here.

Beyond the Creative Spark worksheet kits, Ruth’s Table has also partnered with Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSW), which empowers underprivileged youth through sewing and quilting, to create an intergenerational quilt. Ruth’s Table and SJSA have created quilt making kits that guide recipients through creating a quilt block that will be incorporated into a full quilt. This quilt will be on display as part of the Enduring Inspiration exhibit. If you are interested in creating a quilt block as part of the project, please reach out to contact@ruthstable.org.

Ruth’s Table is also supporting community creativity through individual or group phone calls as well as virtual classes. Group or individual support calls allow teaching artists to provide assistance and encouragement to those working on the creative care kits and Creative Spark worksheets. Virtual classes are also available for senior communities as a way to keep connected and engaged while we stay at home.

Set to take place later this year, the Enduring Inspiration exhibit is an invitation to us all to explore creative projects at home and share our work with others. Ruth’s Table is encouraging everyone to submit any creative projects of choice, from traditional art pieces like paintings and sculpture to other creative endeavors like recipes, musical pieces, and more.

Everyone and anyone is invited to submit their creative project for consideration and submissions are open now through August 1st. The submission process is easy and consists of a short write-up about the project, a photo of the project if applicable, and a short, 2 to 3 sentence bio. The full submission guidelines are available on Ruth’s Table’s website. To submit, please reach out to Ruth’s Table at contact@ruthstable.org or 415.505.3269. 

If you are working on a creative project during this time, also consider sharing photos and your process on social media using the hashtag #RTmakes. We’re excited to see what you create and how you are utilizing creativity to stay connected.

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.

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.