Before there was the Transition Movement, there was the Center for the New American Dream, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “help Americans to reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice.” Before my spouse and I decided that we had to become activists for the environment (that’s us at a rally on a Florida beach), we were activists of another kind. Our mission was to prevent the loss of the experience and talents of millions of older people to retirement, and to prevent premature aging to which a life devoted entirely to leisure leads. We had a website, a coach training program, and we wrote a book: Too Young to Retire: 101 Ways to Start the Rest of Your Life which we are happy to say is still ‘in print.’ In fact, the link above will take you to a virtual bookstore where you can read the reviews and buy it.
Last year, we passed the baton to one of our coaches (we call them certified facilitators) who runs the website and trains others now. Friends joked that the anti-retirement couple were, gasp! retiring. But that was not the case. We were simply shifting the focus, to translate what we learned in our separate careers and our joint endeavor, into environmental activism. As grandparents, we never wanted to have to face our grandchildren in the future and say we did nothing about the climate crisis.
We had a link to New American Dream in our book and were aligned with their vision that consumerism and the ideology of endless economic growth was not sustainable, and that ordinary citizens like us could do make changes in our own lives that shrink our ecological footprint. So it was a great honor to be approached by an editor at New American Dream looking to profile us for their Living the Dream series! Their questionnaire gave us a reason for a life review; we got to take stock of where we are in our lives, what we believe in, and what matters most to us. It’s a worthwhile exercise at any age, but particularly when you have a lot of life already lived to examine. We were also motivated to pour through our photo album to find some suitable photos for the profile. It will be out soon. In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the current Living the Dream profile, about Montana homesteader, Ashley Browning.