Read about the activities of our “extra-curricular” groups: Book Club, CAST (Improvisation, storytelling, etc.), Poetry Circle, French Conversation Group, New Yorker Fiction Salon, Photo Club, Scene-iors Acting Troupe, Writers Guild.
I am sure I’m not the only one who feels about 40 or so years younger than my birthdate reveals. When I pass a mirror, I wonder why my mother is looking at me before I shockingly acknowledge it’s me in the glass. Where have the years gone? Why do I feel they are flying by?
These are the kinds of questions that made me think about offering a new course at BOLLI. This past fall (2018), I offered a new five-week class, “Aging with Resilience, Cheerfulness, and Enthusiasm.” Twenty people signed up., and when the class ended, everyone wanted more time.
So, with help and advice from Avi Bernstein, we agreed that a new Special Interest Group on Aging could be a good solution. Three members of the class (Ruth Kandel, Bonnie Seider, and Linda Wolfson) volunteered to help organize the SIG with me. And the new SIG, “Aging with Resilience and Enthusiasm,” was born!
The weather wasn’t great the first time our SIG met on March 6, 2019. I was quite sure that a meeting at 9:30am, with the temperature at 18 degrees, was not going to be conducive to people showing up. Imagine my surprise when 23 people filled the Blue Room with positive energy! Everyone was excited to meet each other and share their ideas about aging. We were impressed by the interesting lives people are living and eager to hear about the issues of aging we each face. We had time to reflect on six quotations gathered by Linda and Sandy, which were hung around the room. People gravitated to discuss the one that resonated the most with them. The conversations were engaging! It was hard to get the group to leave the room to let the second period class enter.
Here’s just one quote from Michael Altshuler you might want to ponder: “The bad news is that time flies; the good news is that you’re the pilot!”
Come and join us for informative and energizing discussions. Our monthly meetings will be April 3rd, May 8th, and June 5th in the Blue Room at 9:30am. Our topic for April is “Living a Meaningful Life.”
Questions? Contact Sandy Miller-Jacobs at email@example.com
Join Waltham Matters SIG for a discussion of Cornelia Warren and the properties she gave to the University of Massachusetts, the Girl Scouts, and the City of Waltham. Dee Kricker, an active member of the Waltham community, will meet with us at BOLLI on Friday, April 12 from 10:30 AM to 12 Noon to lead the discussion.
Cornelia Lyman Warren, her Wikipedia entry indicates, was an American farmer and an educational and social service philanthropist, widely known for her investment in social improvement projects. She was a trustee of Wellesley College, bought the location for Denison House, and ran a large model dairy farm on Cedar Hill in Waltham.
When she died in 1921, Warren’s will divided the farm among several non-profit organizations, but now, the future of the 58-acre U. Mass Extension Center property on Beaver Street is uncertain.
Dee will explain the situation and tell us about the activities on the site that are now in jeopardy. She will also focus on Cornelia Warren’s amazing life.
Questions? Contact Sue Adams at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aside from courses, lectures, seminars, and other activity, at BOLLI, we have an extensive menu of Special Interest Groups that give us even more opportunities to get to know each other and dive more deeply into engaging pursuits. Each month, we will focus on another BOLLI SIG and its activities–membership is always open!
In August, our BOLLI “Make a Difference” SIG was featured in the National Osher Newsletter. That article is reprinted here.
OLLI at Brandeis University
Make a Difference
“Make a Difference” is an affinity group that evolved naturally at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis University. It is led by two long-term members, Elaine Dohan and Eleanor Jaffe who have been participating for many years with classmates in discussion groups as well as in history and current event classes. For example, Eleanor taught a course called “Resistance and Resilience in Politics and Life” in which current issues, as well as law and history, were discussed. In addition, every semester, OLLI at Brandeis hosts a variety of speakers who stimulate discourse from their unique positions.
Inviting colleagues to join with Elaine and Eleanor to form a group for civic action seemed an obvious next step. As seniors, their particular experience and perspective gives them a unique vantage point from which to view today’s political climate and current events. They also believe they have a responsibility to their grandchildren to set an example of the importance of citizen participation in civic discourse and action, both through voting and by speaking out.
Currently, the group is focusing their attention on issues concerning children. These include topics such as immigration, school shootings, voter registration and juvenile justice. They meet regularly and reach consensus on current critical issues. Actions include writing postcards and calling editors of newspapers, members of Congress, and executives of corporations to urge action on behalf of these important issues. They then follow up and write “thank you notes” to those individuals and groups who are providing positive leadership in these areas.
BOLLI’s “Make a Difference” SIG meets every other Friday morning from 10:30 to 12:00. Watch the Bulletin for announcements of meetings and activities.
All of our SIGs are member-driven. Don’t see your particular interest on our list? Talk to a staff member about starting a new one!
Want to see your group highlighted here? Send updates on your SIG activities for future focus. email@example.com
“Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.” So says civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman. And that message has never been more important than it is right now.
There is no doubt that we are all busy with families, friends, and, of course, our studies at BOLLI. During these troubled times, we tend to look more inward and wonder what lies ahead for our children, grandchildren, and our country. But in the midst of this chaos, the need for creative, energetic, and skilled volunteers in our nonprofit community is more immediate than ever.
Too often, we underestimate the power of sharing our time. And yet, that investment of ourselves has the potential to turn a life around or even change the direction of the world we live in–close to home or far away. We only have to read the papers or listen to the news reports to recognize and understand the needs of people, whether from natural disaster, armed conflict, or thoughtless and cruel political action.
Non-profits depend heavily on volunteers to help them serve their clients, sustain their missions, and raise funds for their programs and services. Because the current turmoil has increased the need for these services tenfold, volunteers may, in fact, be the key to survival for many community-based organizations. Even larger brand-name non-profits like the Red Cross need the muscle and passion of volunteers to sustain their missions. And we need only to look at the recent disasters caused by hurricanes, fires, and flooding to see the urgency.
Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. We vote in elections, but when we volunteer, we vote every day about the kind of communities we want to live in. Help address climate change, teach a child to read, keep a teenager in school, or support a domestic violence victim–the needs are as wide as our minds and our energies can embrace. The personal pride and satisfaction that are derived from these activities are incalculable and are recognized as a true measure of character and values.
No monetary value can equate to the value of a dedicated volunteer. You are an extension of professional staff who are engaged in the fulfillment of the organization’s mission. Your time and accomplishments must and will be recognized and applauded.
As Dr. Seuss so wisely said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things aren’t going to get better–they simply are NOT.”
Retired CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA, Ruth held prior executive positions at TJMaxx and Reebok and served as Undersecretary of Administration and Finance in the Romney Administration. Ruth earned her B.A. at Columbia and her M.A. from B.U. She lives in Boston with her husband. They have 5 children and 9 grandchildren.
Be sure to check out the BPG–BOLLI Photography Group! Some members may be true camera buffs since getting their first Brownie camera in fifth grade, but many are novices, having just taken-up photography in retirement years. The eye takes in something beautiful, unusual, colorful (or all three) that makes impact and becomes an integral part of the day. Inspiration comes from anyone, anywhere, or anything around us–from a complex flower or a simple weed; a day at Fenway or a walk in the backyard after a rain storm.
“This summer, we began a weekly photo challenge, giving the group a new topic to photograph each week,” says BPG organizer Joanne Fortunato. Topics included an animal, a reflection, something red, happiness, or other subjects suggested by members of the group. Joanne says that the purpose of the challenge was to encourage members to exercise their own creativity and to photograph something new and different every week.
The BPG has also taken field trips to points within an ever-expanding circle of our local communities: Tower Hill Botanical Gardens, Mount Auburn Cemetery, and Copley Square. One of the group’s next trips will be to ‘Fog x FLO’ along the Emerald Necklace!
Recently, the BPG met to discuss final preparations for their new exhibit, which will be available for viewing in the classrooms as the fall semester starts. The entire BOLLI community will be able to savor the group’s latest works. Perhaps viewers may even be inspired to join the group and discover their own creative eyes.
Watch the BOLLI Bulletin for announcements of BPG meetings, challenges, and trips. You don’t need a fancy camera–just a desire to see your world through a different lens.
Where political action is concerned, I’d say we are not too old.I’d say we have strong ethics and opinions that are well informed by our personal lives and professional experiences,and we have potentially strong voices.BUT – we must use them!
We watch our beloved country overrun by scoundrels, those with no moral compass or sense of history.Those who cannot (or will not) defend the rights of children separated from their parents at our borders.Under this administration, we seefamilies that have trekked many hundreds of miles from their homes where they lived in danger from gangs and governments unable to protect themto our borders seeking asylum.(They are highly motivated;wouldn’t they make ideal citizens?Highly motivated, strong, ambitious people, sacrificing and striving for democracy and safety for themselves and their children.)And we watch, dumbstruck by cruelties performed in our names by our government’s benighted policies:these official asylum seekers, whose entry is not illegal, are being separated from their traumatized children.
Thousands of children have been separated from their parents and are being “warehoused” in large detention centers, suffering the cruelties of fear and separation that will shape their lives forever.And our own government is the perpetrator of this policy!And our tax dollars are supporting these arbitrary cruelties!
No matter what you think of our immigration policies…do you think they are inconsistent, have loopholes, need attention and correction? Do you really believe this is the way to implement our current practices?
Who says we are too old to do something about this heinous, cruel “immigration policy?”
Many of us already make our voices heard by writing letters and making phone calls to our elected officials. Others financially support organizations like the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, or other worthy organizations.I hope that all of us might raise our voices, write those postcards, support voter registration and candidates whose policies we admire so that our government represents the policies and programs that are synchronous with who we are asmoral personsAsk yourself, does your government now reflect your ideals, experiences, and hopes?If it does not, get active!We are not too old!
One way to “get active” is to attend the meetings of our newly formed Make A Difference special interest group at BOLLI to see what we are doing.We will be meeting on June 12 at 1 pm. We will also meet once a month in July and August. We will then set a regular meeting time come September.You and your righteous anger and determination to “Make a Difference” will be heard.We are not too old!
After serving as a delegate to Chicago’s 1968 Democratic Convention, Eleanor’s activism took a back seat to her other pursuits. But today, she says, fear and loathing of the Trump administration has propelled her from “arm chair activism” (talking back to TV anchors) to small acts of resistance. In the 2017 fall semester, she was sufficiently motivated to create a BOLLI course, “Resistance and Resilience in Politics and in Life.” Now, she and Elaine Dohan are leading, “Make a Difference,” a new special interest group devoted to doing just that–through phoning, writing, and other acts of protest. She invites others to join.
Last summer, I purchased a sophisticated single lens reflex camera with a zoom lens and more buttons and dials than the control panel of a 747. When I opened the operating manual and read about apertures, shutter speed, light balance, ISO rating, and depth of field, my eyes glazed over. For over sixty years, I had simply set my camera to automatic, pointed, and shot. This resulted in my taking over 15,000 photos, only a small fraction of which are worth showing. I decided it was time I learned something about operating my camera and composing pictures. That’s why a notice in the Bulletin about a fall “photo” outing caught my eye. On October 21, the BOLLI Photo Group was going to stroll across the Wellesley College campus photographing the impressive architecture, picturesque Lake Waban, and most importantly, the peak fall foliage. This sounded like a group from whom I might learn something. I called Steve Schwartz, the organizer of this event, to ask if I could tag along and see real photographers at work. He graciously invited me to join them.
The day of the outing turned out to be ideal. The sky was clear and blue, the temperature was mild, and the foliage was magnificent. About a dozen people gathered at the meeting spot, and Steve made introductions and explained our agenda. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, but nonetheless, I found myself slightly intimidated. The group all knew one another, many had tripods and sophisticated lenses, and they all sounded like real photographers, discussing “framing” and “depth of field” and the use of filters. Everyone had brought a polarizing filter, and Steve gave a short talk about its use and desirability. I had never heard of a polarizing filter and, of course, didn’t have one. I felt like I was in a little over my head, but I was already learning new stuff.
The group’s first endeavor was to pick out a good vantage point to photograph the colorful foliage that was visible from our meeting place. As everyone disbursed and began to set up their equipment for the “shoot,” it occurred to me that these photographers at work made, for me, a more interesting subject than the scenery. I quietly drifted away from the group. From about 75 yards away, using my 300mm telephoto lens I was able to take candid pictures of the BOLLI group in action without intruding or making anyone self-conscious.
After the foliage shoot, we strolled through the campus to the shore of the lake. Here, everyone got to work setting up tripods, adjusting polarizing filters, and strolling to find just the right spot to frame each water bird or lake view that caught his or her interest. Everyone was friendly and patient as I peppered them with questions about what they were doing and why. I only took a few pictures myself, but watching these more experienced and knowledgeable artists at work was an invaluable learning experience.
I’m glad I intruded and got to see the BOLLI Photo Group in action. In early December, I attended the Photo Group meeting where pictures from the outing were shown. Many of the pictures were wonderful examples of how a good “eye,” when combined with technical skill and creative composition, can produce compelling art. My experience with the BOLLI Photo Group inspired me to enroll in a basic photography course where I am learning how to work my camera and compose and edit pictures. After I reach some minimum level of competence, I intend to become a Photo Group member.
BOLLI’s Photo Group meets in the Green Room on the 3rd Friday of each month. Watch for meeting announcements in the Bulletin. All interested BOLLI members are welcome to attend, regardless of the nature of their experience!
At our most recent Writers Guild session, we shared our work with a “conspiracy theory” prompt in which we challenged ourselves to stretch our imaginations into the “fantastic” and write with authority. As autumn creeps upon us, this piece of fiction by Quinn Rosefsky took many of us right back to summer camp… We thoroughly enjoyed it and are sure you will too.
Quinn says that: “Walkabout” started as a chapter in a book I call: Camp Arawakee .The manuscript was on a shelf in my closet for over twenty-five years. At one time, the book had enough strength to entice an agent to take interest. However, no publishers ever bothered to take a nibble. That was disheartening. More recently, I summoned the courage to take a fresh look. After all, in the past several years, I have somehow managed to write and re-write many times, what on paper looks like a mere 200,000 words. That changes a person. Let me tell you! So, what we now have in “Walkabout” is the fresh, 2017 version of the sentiments which first came to life so long ago. I’d be interested to know if anyone can come up with an ending to the “story within a story.” Having said that, you should probably read the story before reading this brief essay
By Quinn Rosefsky
Where was Louis? The boys in Turtle Cabin waited in the fading light for their counselor to return from chatting with the pretty dark-haired nurse in the infirmary. Charlie, Teddy and Sean made up a contest. Who could jump the farthest from the edge of the lean-to onto the ground? A few feet away, Pete and Michael began arguing about whose turn it was to sweep the floor the next morning. As the first stars began to appear, Louis strode into view.
“Story!” the boys said, one after another.
The boys and Louis, dangling their legs, huddled on the edge of the lean-to.
“It was as hot as an oven the day I saw my first opal,” Louis said, dumping a bag of strange pebbles into his palm. “I’d been behind the wheel of my truck for hours and the flies were driving me crazy. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s when I drove the truck off the road into a ditch. There was no way I could get the wheels free. I sat down under the only gum tree around to rest.
“Just as I closed my eyes, something flashed at my feet. I bent over. There it was lying on top of the ground, the most fiery opal I’d ever seen.”
Louis paused to adjust the bush hat he always wore, even in the shower.
“What’s an opal?” Charlie said.
“It’s a jewel almost as precious as a diamond but still worth a lot of money.”
“Let him get on with the story,” Pete said, elbowing Charlie.
“Anyhow, just then, an Aborigine, his eyes so bright they looked like they were on fire, walked out of the bush and came straight towards me. He was wearing dusty blue jeans and no shirt.”
“What’s an Aborigine?” Ronnie said.
“They’re our native Australians, the ones who were there when Europeans first began to settle the continent. Same as your American Indians were here first.”
“Are there a lot of them?” Sean asked.
“Not any more. They’ve had a rough time.”
“Are they dangerous?”
“Not at all. They never were and never will be. They’re the ones who protect life in all its forms. That’s why the bush has been unspoiled for thousands of years.
“This particular Aborigine, who said his name was Jack, was on what’s called a walkabout. He’d been living alone in the bush for over a year, learning what he was to do with his life.
“As soon as Jack came to within a few yards, he stood still. He didn’t move for five minutes, not a muscle. It was as if he’d turned into a statue.
“Then Jack moved. First he pointed to my opal and then he took it from my hand and turned it over and over. Then he said: ‘Follow me.’
“We walked along an invisible track in the bush for about an hour. Finally, Jack stopped and pointed to the ground. I was completely mystified. Opals, dozens of them, were everywhere. I ran about like a man possessed. I was rich!
“Then I remembered my car was still stuck in the ditch an hour away from where I was. But what good would it do me to have all those opals if I never got out of the bush? I looked around to thank Jack, but he was gone. I was alone with no truck, no water and the hot sun beating down on me.”
“What happened next?” Charlie asked.
“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow,” Louis said.
“It’s not fair,” Pete said stomping his feet.
“That’s enough, Pete,” Louis said, wagging his finger. “I’ll give you guys fifteen minutes to get ready for bed and then it’s lights out.”
“How can I fall asleep not knowing if you survived?” Sean asked.
Quinn is a familiar face at BOLLI where he takes courses, teaches courses, serves on the Study Group Support Committee, participates in the New Yorker Fiction Group, the Writers Guild, and more!
Our Writers’ Guild prompt for this week was this “Keep Calm and Look in Lost & Found” image. As always, some chose to use the prompt while others did not. We all thoroughly enjoyed Steve Goldfinger’s approach, and we felt that many BOLLI members might be able to relate!
LOST & FOUND
By Steve Goldfinger
For a moment, my wandering brain lost the prompt, but now I remember. Ah, yes. “Lost and Found.”
Well, it’s easy to lose things. Car keys, cell phones, shopping lists, hearing aids. Names of people whose faces are imprinted in my skull, faces of people whose names are as secure in my mind as swallows in cliff dwellings.
I cannot find the treasured score card that documented the best round of golf I ever played. I was 21 year old, knew I would never have so low a score again, and promised I would keep it to show my grandchildren. But where is it now? Hiding somewhere in my attic or moldering at the bottom of some forsaken garbage dump?
When I lost my virginity, I knew I had also found something. But when I lost my wallet yesterday, the only thing I found was an empty back pocket. My only consolation was that my credit card was not longer in it. Once again, the piece of plastic was undoubtedly sitting next to the cash register of the last restaurant I ate at. Again, I neglected to retrieve it after I signed the check. Damn it. I want it back. Now, what was the name of that restaurant?
After driving to the MFA to see the new exhibit that so excited me when I read the review in The Globe, I forgot which one it was. When a large sign reminded me and told me where it was, I had to ask a guard to direct me to the stairway I had marched to directly so many times in the past. It was a great exhibit…fine paintings and etchings by…oh, shit!
And what have I found?
Perhaps a new internal tempo that allows me to drive more slowly, aware as I am that, in front of me, the lane seems to have narrowed, and too many dents and scrapes have appeared on my car.
Or the magic of the remote, being able to put a ball game on a 40 minute delay so I can then zip through the commercials to get to the action.
Or the ability to justify my lifestyle–couch potato, bacon and eggs, steaks, morning croissants, and evening ice cream–by “Hey, I’m 82 and just back from Alaska where I survived a strenuous hike. Good genes. Thanks, Mom and Dad.”
Or how easy it has been to depart from the world of medicine. A satisfying six decades, but in the end, too many directives separating me from patients, too many memory lapses, too many teaching moments falling short of my expectations, threatening my pride.
Or my ability to respond to writing prompts in perhaps a better way than I have responded to social ones over the years.
Since joining BOLLI nearly two years ago, Steve has been exploring new ventures. He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre).
Interested in joining either one yourself? During the fall term, the Guild will meet on Wednesday mornings from 9:45-11. And CAST will meet on Fridays from 12:30-2. All are welcome!
CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) IN ACTION
“It gets the creative juices flowing!” Sandy Clifford says of CAST activity at BOLLI. “It’s great fun making new friends and begging part of a creative team. It’s also challenging and educational kind of self-discovery–in an environment where taking chances is supported.”
It’s a typical CAST adventure. The group gathers for a “Warm-Up Walk” around the Gathering Space. They are instructed to focus on the space itself, the intersection between themselves and their environment, and then, the nature of their movement.
The instruction to “Walk like an Egyptian” brings the expected laughter as actors try to move as if they are one or two-dimensional beings. Then, they take on the characters of individuals with unique walks: clown, deep sea diver, tightrope walker, toddler, ballerina. “How has the environment and years of this activity affected the way you walk–on the sidewalk? Across a room?” They move throughout the room, finally coming to a stop to see what might be coming next.
Mimed activity–jumping rope, playing tennis or volleyball–might lead to creating tableaux or “Photo Album” in which one member turns the pages of an imaginary album, narrating a memorable family outing or celebration. “Oh, here we all are at Uncle Elbert’s barbecue,” the narrator indicates, for example, as the group quickly compose themselves in a frozen scene.
Next might be an exercise in improvisation. In “Job Interview,” an employer engages a potential employee in conversation about the position for which he or she is applying. The catch? The potential employee doesn’t know what the job is and must rely on the other player to guide her or him to that conclusion with well-constructed clues. In “Congratulations on Your Retirement!” a group of party-goers try to determine what each other’s 50-year careers entailed.
An exercise in dialogue might follow. “The Ten-Line Trip,” for example, provides players, in pairs, with a generic ten-line dialogue which each pair particularizes by creating a unique environment in which it takes place, As in…
On occasion, a rousing rendition of “Chopped Props” ensues. The players are divided into two groups, and each is given a picnic basket or grocery bag which has been filled with identical prop items. The groups then have a prescribed bit of time in which to create a scene in which all of the props become essential elements. As in…
Props can be used to inspire solo storytelling as well–as Marty Ross demonstrates.
At times, too, the group deals with scripted material–as we will do starting next month when we begin to prepare CARRYING ON, the world premiere of a collection of short plays for senior players. The production will be presented at a Lunch & Learn session during the last week of the fall term.
Newcomers are always welcome. Margie Nesson tried her hand at the acting game this summer, reporting that she enjoyed “yet another new experience for me at BOLLI!” New BOLLI member Mark Seliber says that, during the first session he attended, he was intrigued by how just movement itself can set up a scene. And Jan Burres, who dropped in recently, says, “It was fun! We laughed. We played. We even learned how people in theatre can cry, night after night, when necessary. I felt welcomed and delighted in the real sense of camaraderie in the group. And I’ll be back.”
And it just doesn’t get better than THAT, now, does it?
For over 40 years, Sue taught drama to students in kindergarten through college (but mostly in middle and high school). Working with BOLLI players has been “absolutely the best,” she says. “Unlike adolescents, this group isn’t worried about looking silly in front of their friends–they just go for it! And, as a result, their growth as actors is exponential in nature.”
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