Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Community as ... A Publication

By Ira Mickenberg
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut

Visions and Voices

After years of focused learning, focused producing
We take a respite once we retire’
And begin to look at qualities we admire
No longer finding material wealth so seducing.

Ollie is a community of retirees
Interested in learning and exploring,
Working together in a classroom of peers
Or mixing with youngsters with many more cares.

A sub-community was distilled
When retires responded to the mission
Of submitting writings and artworks
Which were published in “Voices and Visions”.

A community of people whom we trust
Will encourage creativity in areas explored
Before our mature brains turn to rust
From sitting at home and getting bored.

This community of participants can be expanded
Yet continue to be treated evenhanded.
Writers, poets and artists all amateur
Can meet, create and endure.

Out of the drawers and out of the subconscious
Will come products of our perceptions.
To be read and viewed by others
While works of others titillate our sensations

Such constant attention, words and senses
Will improve appreciation and mend those fences
Of preconceived notions and some hostility
Toward the “non productive” retired nobility.

A community of artists and writers
Who find this time of life in fashion
Will inspire others to expand their experience
And exchange their time of lethargy and ennui to one of passion.

While part of a group, each of us is unique
With no sense of failure for expressing our visions
We are exposing our psyches and taking a peek
Hoping to discover the creativity we seek.

Future works may be published or
Enjoyed for the process
At this time in our life
Participation supersedes acclimation.

A “Voices and Visions” community can get together
After speaking with the editors and enthusiastic contributors.
Workshops may follow, while friendships develop
Creativity exudes out of the nascent community.


  1. This poem illustrates the fears and solutions a member of the retired community face. The idea of a mind turning to rust is powerful as it demonstrates that without regular use and maintenance a mind, as with a fine piece of machinery, can degrade in quality and ability. But, the community of ollie members offers an outlet to the members. and outlet that provides the maintenance to a mind to keep it in tip top condition. I appreciate the concern with this struggle as I know it is one I may face someday.

  2. I admire your ability to put in poetic format a clear picture of how OLLI can serve the needs of a retired person within a community to grow and improve as well as keeping the mind from deteriorating. Also, implied is the wisdom and knowledge which can be given to other members of the community from experience. The sharing of creativity leads to a community itself. Well done Ira. I admire your calmness and clear, concise statements in discussion groups. You are a person to seek opinions and advice. I wholeheartedly agree that retirement age is when a new world can be opened to that creativity within.