Unleash your Granny Power:  Change the World

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

Unleash your Granny Power:  Change the World

Using Granny Power

Are you feeling a little restless, a little lonely, and wishing you had something that made you want to get up in the morning?  

 Have you ever said, “I wish someone would tackle that problem” ?  Maybe that someone is you!  Using your Granny Power for a positive impact  could make your life more interesting, keep your mind sharp, and help reduce loneliness.  

See how grannies and grandpas are making  a positive impact.  

Meet grannies who changed the world. 

Swiss grannies won a huge climate case victory on April 9th, 2024.   Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection  won  the first ever climate case victory in the European Court of Human Rights.  The Court is  an international court of the Council of Europe that affects 700 million Europeans in member states. The court ruled that Swiss citizens were harmed by the  government’s  inadequate efforts to meet its emission reduction targets.  The case sets a precedent that states in the Council of Europe are legally bound to cut  emissions to protect human rights.  It is already having a ripple effect as more cases are being filed.

The sixty-five year and older ladies began their campaign by educating themselves about the effects of climate change and current laws.  They scheduled meetings with legislators carrying cookies and other treats  and using their granny persuasive tools to inform them about climate change and what needs to be done. The campaign went beyond granny smiles and goodwill. They sued the Swiss Government.  Their legal  action said, “We are serious, knowledgeable, and persistent.  We know how to fight.” 

 It’s hard to keep down determined grannies. 

Meet grannies and grandpas who changed their communities.  

Alan Law, feeding the hungry:

Alan Law learned about the poor and homeless as a Minneapolis middle school teacher.  He is now retired but he spends time from evening until mid-morning on the streets of Minneapolis distributing 6-700 sandwiches  from the back of his minivan to poor, vulnerable families. He works at night when homeless shelters are closed.  He is the sole delivery person.  He created a nonprofit, Minneapolis Recreation Department, in 1967 with no salaries for serving the poor.  Its  office is in his small apartment which has walls of freezers to hold frozen sandwiches. He has received national recognition from three presidents and many other awards.

Inez Killingsworth, fighter for homeowners: 

Inez Killingsworth was a janitor who became a  statewide fighter for homeowners.  She helped homeowners who were victims of unfair and abusive loan terms  in Cleveland, Ohio.  Her nonprofit, East Side Organizing Project began negotiating  with banks in 1993 for lower interest rates, fee waivers and fairer payment plans. She threw plastic sharks at bankers and posted their cell numbers (Cleveland Plain Dealer,  Jan. 18, 2013).  She took her local project statewide.  She died in 2013, a hero to homeowners.

See these stories online at  The Daily Good Organization.org.

Why should you use your granny power to make the world better?

Aiding others  can help reduce loneliness,  meet  new, interesting friends, and get you to learn unfamiliar writing, speaking and computer skills.  It will make you feel good!  

 I experienced  all those effects in leading  a successful two-decades-long effort to get a legislative ban on Ohio school corporal punishment (2009).  It took grit,  persistence, confidence in our mission,  and the ability to build a constituency.  After many years of failures, a  PBS reporter asked me if I was going to come to the State House  in my wheelchair someday.  I said, “If I have to, I will.”    I was seventy-three  when paddling was finally banned in Ohio.  I am thrilled that more than a million and a half children  go to Ohio public schools with no fear of being hit with  boards. I met many interesting people, kept my mind sharp, learned new skills in writing, speaking and computer programs, and made a small step in making the world better. 

Where do you start? 

What are you passionate about?  What comes to mind when you think of something that needs to be done to help your community or country?  

I became passionate about banning school corporal punishment when I saw a child being paddled in a school where I was serving as a school psychologist.  It was the first time I saw an adult (the principal)  hit a child across the buttocks with a board. I couldn’t do anything because Ohio law did not allow school districts to ban it.  I hoped someday I could help change that.  I knew it was ineffective and harmful.  It was a winning cause.  We started with no support from educator organizations and little public support. We learned how to  change hearts and minds. It was challenging but  satisfying work. Our tools were science, treating opponents with respect, well-thought-out campaigns, being truthful in our presentations and materials, and persistence.  We agreed to incremental gains in bills that would have failed until we finally wore down our opponents and got a complete  ban. 

Some possibilities for improving the lives of older adults:

 Improving the life of older adults in my community  who live alone and/or have limited means:

 Improving  health, security, affordable  places to live, transportation, medication, home maintenance and cleaning,  and nutrition.

 Possible global and state actions:

   Sensible gun control laws, Climate change, Ageist attitudes, and Elder abuse.

Engage in a little self-reflection.

What are the strengths and abilities you have to offer?   Are you a good leader of people?  Can you educate and  persuade people?  Can you write well?  Are you persistent? Are you a life-long learner? Are you  social media savvy? These are strengths and skills that make you an influencer.  You don’t need to have them at the start.  You will learn them as you become active. 

Choose your cause and learn about it.

You don’t have to have a grand goal for change, there are community problems waiting for someone to work on, a new library, more community services for people living alone, increasing senior housing, or getting transportation for seniors for medical appointments. If you have a grand goal like sensible gun laws, reducing child abuse, or increasing medical care for old people in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, you don’t have to do it alone. You can work through a large organization.

If researching on the internet is hard, ask a younger person.  A grandchild, niece, nephew, or neighbor could help you.  Seeing an older person with a thirst for knowledge and change is a powerful lesson for youth. You may want to check with a college computer program to see if you can hire a student to teach you social media skills.   I’ve learned computer programs that way at my own speed.

Are you interested in community issues or national campaigns? 

Community Issues:

If it’s a community issue, attend public meetings on it.  Do preparation.  Find out who the key speakers are and what their point of view is.   Prepare questions. Dress professionally.  Arrive early.  In public comment periods, make your responses brief and concise.  Listen and take notes.  See what can be done, what is impeding change and how you can  help.   Join local organizations that can help you and even give you some activities to engage in like letter writing, fundraising, and putting together groups to educate about the issue.  

National Issues: 

If it’s a national issue  you want to unleash your granny power on, join organizations to help you understand the issue, what changes are needed and how you can help.  Online research on national organizations may give you names of state and local organizations you can help. You may learn some new skills or keep up your current skills. Writing letters to editors and government officials, making calls to raise support for a cause, fundraising, and sharing petitions and your story with others will expand your horizons. 

The following organizations advocate for seniors as part or all the mission.

American Association for Retired Persons (AARP)

National Council on Aging (NCOA)

The American Society on Aging (ASA)

League for Elder Advocacy and Disability Services (LEADS)

National Consumer Voices for Quality Long Term Care (NCVQLR)

National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)

 Unleash your Grannie Power to influence change in your community or beyond that, the country, or the world.   

How can you use your Granny power?

Make a small start:

  • Go to a meeting about an issue in your community. 
  • Write a letter to your congressperson about pending legislation. 
  • Share an article on an issue you feel  passionate about. 
  • Work with young people on a cause.  You can bring a granny perspective.  

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  Harriet Tubman

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  Mother Theresa

Do you want more information?

Do you want to improve your social media skills? Do you want to be a TikTok  Grannie?    Check out AARP’s free and low-cost social media skill building classes on Senior Planet for people 60 and older.  Need help joining a class? Call the free Senior Planet Hotline: 888-713-3495

Tips on Advocating for a cause:   

Book:  Breaking the Paddle: Banning Corporal punishment in Schools, Nadine Block, Center for Effective Discipline, Columbus, OH,2013.

Note:  Gemini ai editing tool used:  4-21-24, 4-23-24.