Wisdom Cafe

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Many seniors are living longer than previous generations, that’s no secret. Fortunately, a growing number of us –old and young – are embracing the All Ages and Abilities caring approach to include our elders’ voices in decision making.


Older adults offer priceless life experience, and many continue to share their wisdom.  King County libraries have been offering a forum for wisdom-sharing called “Wisdom Cafés.”

Wisdom Cafes are facilitated monthly across King County by  Dori Gillam. Dori is the board chair of the Northwest Center for Creative Aging and hosts forums through the King County Library System.  We have reached out to Marcellus Turner to do something similar at Seattle Public Libraries.

The Wisdom Cafes provide space for older adults to engage in ongoing and facilitated conversations about livability issues affecting all people, as we grow. Participants, who range in age from 52 to 90, choose the discussion topic in advance and organizers build the programming tailored to participant needs and interest. The glory of these exchanges is that people meet new friends, get useful and practical tips, and leave the venue with a feeling of togetherness and that they are not isolated. Gathering with others and sharing in meaningful discussions combats feeling of isolation. The goal of Wisdom Cafes is to be heard and respected and there has been an overwhelmingly positive for this programming and I hope you will join in.  Here is the Wisdom Cafe Schedule 2019.

As I’ve written about before, social inclusion is one of the 8 domains of livability, (See: Age Friendly: Combating Social Isolation) and respectfully including seniors and disabled neighbors promotes making Seattle age-friendly for all. We make our neighborhoods “livable” when we seek each other’s wisdom and when we take time to genuinely see each other.   “Feeling invisible” is a problem we can solve.  We make people visible when we listen with compassion.  Everyone of us wants to be included, valued and heard.

I want to acknowledge and thank a team of passionate employees in the City of Seattle Human Services Department who are dedicated to making our City Age-Friendly. As a champion of Age-Friendly Seattle myself, one of my primary focus is to ensure our city infrastructure is built to accommodate everyone irrespective of age and abilities.  That’s something government can do and my colleagues in the Human Service Department work to do this daily.  Thanks very much to Cathy Knight, Irene Stewart, and their team.

The next step is up to us.  To make everyone feel valued and celebrated takes intention.  Thank you to all who take the time and opportunity to include our older neighbors day to day, and particularly to Dori Gillam and our libraries for creating important spaces to listen and learn from each other every day.