Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Movers Are Coming!

I was so incredibly busy last week I hardly had time to get to a keyboard. And this week is not much different: GU is moving house in less than 7 hours! We’ll be on the same phone numbers and e-mail addresses – it’s just our mailing address which will change. We’ll be at 1331 H St NW, rather than 1333!

Anyway, I’m grabbing this chance before my computer gets covered in bubble-wrap to give you some more news from GU’s conference. Our conference opening on Thursday morning was incredibly impressive and moving. The session was opened by Waki (which is a Lakota name meaning Little Thunder) and his three children. They danced up a storm before our first panel. The panel was made up of three incredibly learned American Indian women: Commissioner Quanah Stamps (Administration on Native Americans), Dr Carol Locust (University of Arizona), and Regina Siqueiros (American Indian Language Development Institute). They talked about the importance of intergenerational connections in helping at-risk youth, maintaining community cohesion, and passing on stories and traditions. Discussion of these themes, which are relevant to every community, was a great foundation for the whole conference.

We broke for workshops before returning to the ballroom at lunchtime to hear from LeAnn Thieman, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul and six other chicken soup books. LeAnn was inspirational! She encouraged us all to follow our dreams and reach for lofty goals. She spoke not just to the caregivers in the audience, but to the heart and soul of Generations United. I want to give LeAnn my heartfelt thanks for her incredibly generous decision to donate the proceeds of conference sales of Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul to GU.

Well, the movers are coming in just a few hours, so this will have to suffice for now. More – including pictures – to follow!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Conference Catch-Up

Good morning! Donna asked me to catch you all up on activity here at the GU Conference. My name is Vicki Bolton, and I'm GU's Public Policy Manager. Yesterday, Generations United stormed Capitol Hill to educate our legislators and ask them to support intergenerational programs, policies and families. As you can see from the photo, Donna got in a little calisthenics during our advocacy forum!

More than 70 conference attendees toured the Capitol building (and some of us even got to see Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she welcomed new Congressional Pages to the building). Then we headed over to the Rayburn House Office Building for a crash course in advocacy and legislation. I had some worries that between the Capitol Building, three House office buildings and three Senate office buildings, we would lose some of our valuable advocates... I'm pretty sure everyone got safely home (although with over 400 conference attendees it can be a little difficult to tell...) but I know that we had at least one Hill Day casualty. One passionate advocate (who shall remain nameless) ripped his shirt in an 0ver-enthusiastic gesticulation disaster!

We had some really good reports back from meetings with Representatives and Senators. It sounds as though we will have some new co-sponsors for the Kinship Caregiver Support Act, as well as some great support for multigenerational opportunites under the Older Americans Act too.

Anyway - more later...!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Making Memories!

Malta is starting to seem like a distant memory. The IAHSA conference was terrific. A highlight for me was re-connecting with Alexandre "Sasha" Sidorenko who is head of aging programmes for the UN. We first met in 1999 when I was invited to be a part of a UN meeting in Seoul, Korea to help develop a policy framework as a part of the UN Year of the Older Person. Sasha provided a great update about the progress made since the world conference on aging held in Madrid five years ago. You can read about it at www.un.org/ageing/

Now that GU has special consultative status with the UN, we discussed meeting to discuss potential collaboration with the aging and children's divisions. That could be really exciting.

In the meantime all of us at GU are buzzing getting ready for our conference which begins next week. I hope we'll be able to welcome you and celebrate our growing field together. We'll be blogging from the conference all week so stay tuned!