Written by Jeff Caplan and Stacey Marie Garcia
What has 88 smiles, 38 tears, 540 great ideas and a building full of hope and inspiration?
The first C3 meeting of the committee to replace senior isolation with connection in Santa Cruz County. On Sunday September 9 a group on seniors, artists and advocates engaged in brainstorming, sharing stories and documenting their experiences, feelings and wisdom. It was an energizing Sunday at the MAH.
To summarize that five hour, active village gathering, one senior said: “I feel impressed with all the synthesis of ideas and offers to lend a helping hand. The food was good too.”
Here are some of the questions we discussed and responses from seniors:
- Share a time that you felt loneliness because of being a senior.
“Isolation comes from big and little changes in life: My divorce.”
“The death of my dog.”
“Losing my home. Being placed in a Senior home. “
- What does feeling isolated or lonely feel like?
“Isolation feels like being invisible.”
“Like a gift box that is empty.”
“Envy of others connecting.”
- What would a world without loneliness look like or feel like to you?
“Warm, happy, secure, connected”
“Senior communities as ‘living libraries'”
“A world with Driverless Cars?”
See the full list and a word cloud of responses from C3 participants here.
After lunch, we shifted focus to developing the Big Ideas for this exhibition. Big Ideas establish a shared vision for our exhibition together. C3 participants discussed what they’d like visitors to understand, feel, experience, or act on in this exhibition. Together, we narrowed it down to 6 Big Ideas and brainstormed how to activate these ideas in an exhibition. You can see C3 participants responses here. MAH staff then edited and combined ideas based on the brainstorm feedback to these final 5.
Here are our final 5 Big Ideas for this exhibition:
- Visitors will understand the diverse causes and impacts of loneliness on seniors.
- Visitors will build empathy by experiencing what loneliness and isolation feels like for seniors.
- Visitors will honor and learn from the wisdom of culturally-diverse seniors.
- Visitors will build a collective vision of a connected, inclusive, inter-generational future in Santa Cruz County.
- Visitors will take action beyond the exhibition to end senior social isolation.
These goals will guide this project: all the artworks, events and actions we will create together. We closed out the day with a moment of gratitude for our lovely day together, getting to know one another, and kicking off a new movement to end senior social isolation in Santa Cruz County.