By Wilma Goldstein

If vacations are meant to clear your head, help you relax and open you up to new ideas, plan a staycation next July and attend the Global Cities Team Challenge (GCTC) Expo. Several members of SWNA’S Aging in Style Task Force attended GCTC at DC’s Walter Washington Convention Center on July 10-12. There were many vibrant, dedicated people from cities all over the world who shared their best ideas on how to prepare for a future that is very different from the one in which we all grew up.

The attendees were mostly from the 100 cities around the world selected in 2013 by The Rockefeller Foundation to help respond to the physical, social and economic changes of the 21st century. Washington, DC is one of those 100 cities. As one of the speakers noted, “when personal computers first came into use, they were not connected to anything and now connectivity is part of everything from the cars we ride in to the watches we wear on our wrists.” The first task of the Smart Cities Challenge—building inter-connectivity—is now well on its way, so the Rockefeller Foundation ended its participation this year. But the cities are now continuing to meet the challenges coming our way to live in this constantly changing world.

Aging-in-Style co-founders Marjorie Lightman and this author spoke at two events during the week. We were joined by our colleague Vania Georgieva, touring discussion groups and exhibits. Considering the fact that over 500 people attended this conference, they were able to create a feeling in all the breakout groups we attended of intimacy and comfort, making it easy to participate.

This can be an exciting time for all of us in the United States. Our presentations addressed the goals of the Smart City movement through the eyes of seniors. Too many people and institutions are still practicing the old paradigm about seniors. We are not sitting around checking off items on our bucket lists waiting to die. We are the fastest-growing age group throughout the world, are living longer in better health and have a great deal of human capital to offer.

The major takeaway from the GCTC Conference is how different the world has become. We recognize that is difficult for some, and the SWNA task force aims to make SW and our city be part of that different look. We invite you to join us. Watch for the next session in our brown bag lunch series as we feature speakers who address these fast moving changes. Find us on our blog: aginginstylewordpress/wordpress and hang onto your seatbelts…it’s gonna be a wild ride.

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