Applewood Futurists Predict the New Normalcy
There are a number of major events in the world that have reshaped society and Covid 19 certainly ranks amongst the top. The 2020 pandemic, in its aftermath, is set to change life as we once knew it.
With that in mind, our SCR group met on Zoom on May 28 to discuss the fallout of the Coronavirus and what the “new norm” will be, if indeed, there was a norm prior to January 2020. The 27 members in attendance were split into 5 groups and charged with brainstorming what those long lasting changes would be. Where fortune tellers will root their predictions in divine forces and mystical unexplained powers, our “Applewood Futurists" would make their predictions based on knowledge and trends.
Needless to say, there was no lack of input and no lack of opinions.
Our predictions covered such topics as: how will gov't debt be paid down…for many, work will now be a mix from home and the office and that in itself will have major ramifications for public transit, housing, education, office space…., the effect on bricks and mortar retail from more on line shopping…individual freedoms polarized or sacrificed… increased digital communications and ramifications for business travel and meetings to name a few…, renewed emphasis on social and family relationships…the long term effect from delayed treatment of health problems
You may ask were we successful in forecasting the future? Maybe ….Maybe not.
Perhaps though, the objective of this exercise is not so much about the accuracy of our predictions but in “its rehearsal” of the variables. Predictions are born from the inputs you have and, the more inputs you have, the better prepared you will be.
Our club’s inaugural monthly Zoom drop-in coffee hour and discussion group (our SCR) was a great success on Friday April 23, 2021, with 26 men in attendance out of an enrolment of 34.
After a 15 minute pre-meeting meet-and-greet and sorting out of technical glitches, we had a 10 minute plenary session where the moderator for the day highlighted possible issues for discussion arising from the recent federal budget. This was discussed in 5 breakout rooms for 30 minutes, followed by a plenary discussion for 20 minutes when each group reported on their breakout discussions. Amazingly, each group went its own way and discussed different things : covering deficit spending implications,, spending on Covid-19, inflation, wealth taxes, health spending etc.
A good time was had by all and there were no reports of intemperate disagreements.
Based on feed-back from attendees, we will be keeping the basic format for future SCR get-togethers with a few tweaks, such as setting the size of break-out rooms at 5 or 6 persons with just one moderator per room and giving a 5 minute notice of closing the rooms to allow each breakout group time to summarize their discussion and designate a spokesperson for reporting back to the plenary session. (We understand that the quality of each person’s coffee, other refreshments, and jokes, varied, but that was out of our club’s control!)
Since word of the success of our first get-together has spread, we have had additional club members ask to be enrolled in the SCR. Our SCR organizing committee (the “primers”) meet 10 days before each SCR get-together to pick a topic for discussion and a moderator for the day, and then send out advance notice to SCR members.
Our get-togethers are on the last Friday of every month at 10:00 am, with pre-meeting link-in beginning at 9:45 am.
The next SCR get-together is on Friday, May 28, 2021.
We invite club members who have not yet signed up for the SCR to do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org saying: “Sign me up.”
Drop-in for Coffee and Discussion
Our club’s Senior Common Room (the SCR) is a monthly Zoom drop-in coffee hour and discussion group for club members and guests.
For now, while the pandemic lasts, we meet on the last Friday of each month, with doors opening at 9:45 am for a 10:00 am start.
We send invitation-links the day before each get-together to persons who have signed up for the SCR.
Our inaugural get-together on Friday April 23, 2021 was a great success with 26 men in attendance out of an enrolment of 34.
Since word of the success of our first get-together has spread, we have had additional club members ask to be enrolled in the SCR. We have a current enrollment of approximately 40 as of May 1, 2021.
We invite club members who have not yet signed up for the SCR to do so by sending an email to HYPERLINK "about:blank"email@example.com saying: “Sign me up.”
We have an organizing committee (the “Primers”) consisting of a Convener, Paul Moore, and Lloyd Posno, Bob Weese, Tom Axworthy, Les Mayer, Jim Carmichael, Alan Lytle, Doug Johnston, and Doug Gilpin, to prime the pump and manage the get-togethers.
The Primers meet 10 day before each SCR get-together to pick a topic for discussion and a moderator for the day. Advance notice of the topic for discussion is then sent to SCR members.
After a 15 minute pre-meeting meet-and-greet, we open with a 10 minute plenary session where the moderator for the day highlights possible points for consideration relative to the topic for discussion.
We then go into breakout groups for 30 minutes. Each group consists of 5 or 6 persons with one Primer designated as group moderator in each group. Each group is free to go its own way and discuss various issues more or less related to the chosen topic. Preparation is not required.
At the 5 minutes-left-mark (with notice of pending termination) the group moderator asks the group to summarize its discussion and designate a person to report back on the discussion.
The attendees reconvene in a plenary session for 20 minutes with each group reporting on their breakout discussions and a general discussion ensues.
Discussion is free-wheeling and casual and a good time is had by all. Attendees treat each other with respect. (Intemperate argument is not permitted.)
(We understand that the quality of each person’s coffee, other refreshments, and jokes, vary, but that is out of our club’s control!)
Benefits of participation
The SCR provides a wonderful opportunity for interesting discussion, pleasant social interaction, getting to know one another better, and to form new friendships among club members in this time of physical isolation that has limited in-person club activities.
The Senior Common Room met on Zoom on June 25, 2021. The discussion topic was “Coping with Growing Old”, moderated by Doug Gilpin. Seventeen members attended, subsequently divided into three breakout rooms for discussion of this topic.
To assist in the discussion, Doug had provided questions regarding aging issues already experienced by members, their greatest concerns for the future, planned actions to assist families do deal with matters of health, and expectations for assistance from the healthcare community.
The breakout rooms convened for 30 minutes and reported their main results to the plenary session. Highlights of their reports included:
· Concerns with understanding whether physical and memory difficulties are the result of normal aging or something more serious. Such things as shortness of breath in some situations, and inability to recall words and recent events. Several suggested formally designating an advocate, usually a family member, to deal with medical/healthcare priorities and bureaucracies.
· Most seem to have taken care of estate matters but stressed the importance a family meeting to ensure the full understanding of all regarding estates, wills, and access to information regarding finances, insurance, and related documentation and passwords. Some asked for information regarding transfer of cottage properties.
· A number spoke of the benefits of walking as exercise, and stressed the necessity of using two walking sticks, for stability but also to maintain correct posture.
There was agreement that, with the uncertainty of health of the members and spouses, plans must remain flexible. Disabilities from illness, strokes, falls, dementia, were mentioned as matters requiring consideration.
Overall, it was apparent that members had already given a lot of thought and had taken action on the topic, but new considerations appeared and were appreciated.
On Friday, July 23rd. we held our regular “Senior Common Room” discussion group. Competition with golf, cottage and other summer activities reduced our attendance to a keen group of ten. We broke into two groups and had lively discussions around the theme “ How to make progress with societal issues ( indigenous, gender equality and other issues) and at the same time deal with the cancel culture – taking down of statues, renaming memorials and institutions etc.”
The session, moderated by Lloyd and hosted by Paul, lead off by considering questions distributed in advance which addressed both Social issues and Cancel Culture. Views were expressed on the usefulness of critical race theory, the effectiveness of affirmative action, the fairness of culture centered education, the importance of ensuring history education includes modern and historical perspectives of all participants, the role, exaggerated or not, that main stream and social media play in advancing cancel culture, the fairness of judging historical figures by current standards, the lack of process for people accused of transgressions committed decades ago or in their youth and whether the destruction of memorials and statues is fair and contributes to addressing societal inequities and reconciliation.
Concern was expressed about the inappropriateness of excessive concern over cultural appropriation, the growing divisiveness of discourse and the lack of nuance creating polarized views that entrenched positions rather than leading to positive collaborative ways to improve. This leads to angry accusatory statements rather than attempts to inform resulting in people self censuring rather than risking being attacked and ultimately restrictions on our intellectual freedoms.
While we had a good discussion, unfortunately, as you might expect, we did a better job at identifying concerns then finding solutions to the problem other than encouraging broader education and the open sharing of ideas with less vitriolic reporting by social and mainstream media.
If you are interested in participating in future discussions, please contact Paul Moore as everyone is welcome.