Through her book Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom (Knopf, 2010), Bateson celebrated the contributions and improvisations of engaged older adults.
“As people grow older, some of the ways they have contributed in the past may no longer be possible,” she wrote in Composing a Further Life, “but the challenge to society is not only to provide help and care where these are needed but also to offer the opportunity to contribute and care for others.”
Bateson offered an opportunity in 2004, when she founded GrannyVoter, a non-partisan effort that helps grandparents share their voices, pool their power, and use their vote to advocate for their grandchildren.
Today, that program is now merged with Generations United’s Seniors4Kids, of which Bateson is national honorary co-chair.
Her book, Composing a Further Life, continues to lead to further exploration of intergenerational communication and changing ways of experiencing time.
Through her Huffington Post blogs, which she often co-authors with her honorary co-chair, Joan Lombardi, Bateson uses election season, Grandparents Day and various campaigns to charge older adults to support investments in generations to come.
“Today, entering kindergarten without quality early education is like starting a race an hour behind everyone else, making it very difficult to catch up,” Bateson and Lombardi wrote in their post, “Uniting Across the Generations to Assure a Strong Start for Children.”
Those long-lasting benefits include children becoming students who are 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school, according to The First Five Years Fund.
Young people with quality early education become adults more likely to be employed and earn a 33 percent higher average salary.
As a grandparent, Bateson sees it as a responsibility for her and other older adults to protect the future of children too young to vote.
“The past empowers the present,” according to the anthropologist, “and the sweeping footsteps leading to this present mark the pathways to the future.”
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