Wisconsin's Senior Statesmen: How Citizen Advocates Can Effectively Impact the Aging Agenda

By Sykes, James | Aging Today, September/October 2012 | Go to article overview

Wisconsin's Senior Statesmen: How Citizen Advocates Can Effectively Impact the Aging Agenda


Sykes, James, Aging Today


David Brooks, in a June 25 New York Times editorial, "The Power of the Particular" (www.nyfimes. com/2012/06/26/opinion/brooks-thepower-of-the-particular.html), said he would like to "pull aside politicians and business leaders and maybe everyone else and offer some pious advice: Don't try to be everyman. Don't pretend you're a member of every community ... Go deep into your own tradition. Call more upon the geography of your own past. Be distinct and credible."

That advice rings true with my experience in Wisconsin 40 years ago. As chair of the newly established Board on Aging and the convener, with Ken Scholen and John Shier, of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG), we collaborated to plan a way to influence policies affecting elders in Wisconsin. With Scholen's intelligent leadership and aid from community advocates, we developed Wisconsin's Senior Statesman program. Our mission was to identify citizen advocates who could make the case for programs that would improve the quality of Wisconsin's elders' lives.

Going Back to Community

Armed with facts and focused on three critical issues- property tax relief, senior center support and transportation grantsthe Statesmen returned to their communities to gain the support of influential people, particularly older persons, and the attention of their representatives. The Board on Aging and the fast-growing CWAG found a groove: they developed a reputation for focusing on issues that promised results and made their case with facts presented by informed older adults.

The scheme was simple. Invite about 20 concerned, dedicated elders- one or two from each region of the state- to enlist in the Senior Statesman program. In Madison, the Statesmen connected, developing deep friendships strengthened by a common purpose. The training was intensive and highly interactive, pertaining to the issues and strategies for effective advocacy.

Our Statesmen identified with their communities and communicated with their representatives. They identified with the "geography" of their past. They were distinct and credible. They were bolstered by knowing, firsthand, what community organizer Saul Alinski called "felt need."

They presented their case with evidence that specific programs would be not only effective but also within the capacity of their communities and the State to deliver. After three days of intensive workshops and visits to legislators, they developed the leadership skills to organize others, and to find platforms and venues to make their case. They embodied the principle of grassroots leadership. Elected officials listened because Senior Statesmen spoke with authority and with the authenticity of a constituent.

How to Build the Best Aging Agenda

The action agenda we promoted was based on rigorous research about the need for property tax credits, senior centers, community-based services and state support for transportation services vital to rural Wisconsin. We found answers to the State's overreliance on nursing home placement. Together, over the years, Senior Statesmen became active alumni of a highly effective and locally based aging advocacy program. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Wisconsin's Senior Statesmen: How Citizen Advocates Can Effectively Impact the Aging Agenda
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.