Author Archive

The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Submit a Conference Presentation Proposal

The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Submit a Conference Presentation Proposal

It’s throwback time.   This 2017 post is getting a dusting off and another day in the sun.  The Call for Presentations is open for our 2020 Eden Alternative International Conference until June 21, and we thought you could use some

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Meet Kimberly Wood

Meet Kimberly Wood

We are thrilled to announce the addition of Kimberly Wood to the Eden Alternative Home Office Team. Kimberly will work closely with our Education Coordinator, Meredith Martin, as Education Support. Like Meredith, she makes Murfreesboro, Tennessee her home, alongside her

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Sherbrooke Shines Light on Surplus Safety

Sherbrooke Shines Light on Surplus Safety

Last week, we revealed the theme of our 2020 Conference:  Move Mountains: Innovate. Collaborate. Get Results. If any organization can consistently show us how to innovate, collaborate and get results, it’s Sherbrooke Community Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada.   A recent article

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What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You...And Others

What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You…And Others

Years ago, while volunteering each week at a local organization, I met a nice guy, Jim, who always wore the same hat… day in, day out.  The rest of us benignly speculated about the ever-present hat… did he ever take

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Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living

Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living

Breaking news!  We, at The Eden Alternative, are so excited to announce the impending release of a new book by our President & CEO, Jill Vitale-Aussem. Soon to be available through Health Professions Press (HPP), Disrupting the Status Quo of

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Tikkun Olam: Repair the World

Tikkun Olam: Repair the World

I recently had the honor of joining a virtual ritual convened by Age Without Borders. We gathered in observance of the 11 souls lost – many of them Elders – in a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on October 27th.  Our time

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Action Taken: Saying No to "Dress Like a 100-Year-Old Day"

Action Taken: Saying No to “Dress Like a 100-Year-Old Day”

A couple of weeks ago, Eden Alternative President & CEO, Jill Vitale-Aussem posted “Dress Like a 100-Year-Old Day”: A Call to Action. Did you heed the call?  Here’s how we did… we engaged author, Ashton Applewhite, Pioneer Network, and LeadingAge in

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Gratitude Helps Us Grow - Dr. Bill & Jude Thomas' Gratitude Tour

Gratitude Helps Us Grow – Dr. Bill & Jude Thomas’ Gratitude Tour

Dr. Bill and Jude Thomas, Eden Alternative Co-Founders, hit the road along the Atlantic seaboard recently to connect with Elders and others in the spirit of gratitude.  What inspired this journey? A desire to “express gratitude for the Elders we

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Stronger Together: Deepening Employee and Family Member Relationships

Stronger Together: Deepening Employee and Family Member Relationships

A recent post in McKnight’s suggests that better employee/family member relationships might improve employee retention. This caught my eye, as I came to this work as a highly engaged family member. I can affirm that making every effort to deepen

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Ready, Set, Rewind... Conference Session Recordings Are Here

Ready, Set, Rewind… Conference Session Recordings Are Here

Whether you made it to the 2018 Eden Alternative International Conference (and just want more) or didn’t make it (and want some), you can either relive or experience for the first time several conference highlights on a special 2018 Conference

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Changing Aging with Dr. Bill Thomas

Changing Aging with Dr. Bill Thomas

It is little more than a week until we convene the 2018 Eden Alternative International Conference. What better person could we call upon to pump up hundreds of change agents than Co-founder Dr. Bill Thomas? I recently had the pleasure

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Breaking Ground with Jude Thomas

Breaking Ground with Jude Thomas

Over 25 years ago, Bill and Jude Thomas laid the groundwork for what became The Eden Alternative.  What began as a set of principles has grown into a powerful, practical model for person-directed care. With years of experience guiding culture

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Sonya Barsness Reflects on BEING SEEN

Sonya Barsness Reflects on BEING SEEN

I really enjoyed this opportunity to hear from Sonya Barsness about her project, BEING SEEN.  Check out this interview to tap into the power of presence and how being seen is a fundamental need for those who live with dementia. 

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Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter are IN THE MOMENT

Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter are IN THE MOMENT

What a pleasure it was to chat with Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter of In the Moment about their groundbreaking work with improv and transforming relationships with those living with dementia. Check out this interview to learn how it all

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A Conversation with Anne Basting, Founder & CEO of TimeSlips

A Conversation with Anne Basting, Founder & CEO of TimeSlips

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Anne Basting, Founder of TimeSlips, about the power of creativity, how it enables us to be fully self-expressed, and its ability to revolutionize relationships.  On May 3, Anne will open our 2018

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A City, a Story, a Movement...

A City, a Story, a Movement…

The right to determine how you are cared for, the right to live a life that truly reflects and celebrates who you are, regardless of age or ability – these are basic human rights.  Worth rising up for? We, at

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Rise Up, Register, and Join Us in Atlanta

Today, we officially launch Early Bird Registration for our 9th Eden Alternative International Conference scheduled for May 3-5, 2018. I love the “Rise Up” theme we’ve chosen for the conference because it is such a perfect fit for what The

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Al Power Calls for a Rebranding of Dementia Advocacy

Al Power Calls for a Rebranding of Dementia Advocacy

For whatever reason lately, I’m suddenly finding myself in hard conversations about language…. and not just with those who don’t understand the power of language as a tool for shifting paradigms, I’m also getting into it with fellow change agents!

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The Top Ten Reasons You Should Submit a Conference Presentation Proposal

The Top Ten Reasons You Should Submit a Conference Presentation Proposal

Two weeks remain for the Call for Presentations for the 2018 Eden Alternative International Conference, and I find myself thinking about the perks of submitting a proposal.  Behold the result of my musings… the top ten reasons why you should

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Need Inspiration? A 2016 Conference Throwback...

Need Inspiration? A 2016 Conference Throwback…

A mere month stands between your great presentation idea for the 2018 Eden Alternative International Conference and the proposal submission deadline of July 8.  What to do?  What to write? Never fear… inspiration is here!  What better way to get

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Rise UP!  Change Starts Here.

Rise UP! Change Starts Here.

Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech left an indelible mark on the heart of millions. To this day, it remains a powerful reminder that all human beings seek to be seen, respected, honored, and empowered.  While King

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New Research Reveals Positive Impact of Person-Directed Care

New Research Reveals Positive Impact of Person-Directed Care

A Signature Research Institute study highlights the impact of the Eden Alternative Ten Principles Authors Angie McAllister and Jeff Beaty have detailed the results of a recent study completed by Signature HealthCare regarding the impact of person-directed care practices on

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Oscars Flub & the Knee-Jerk Response That is Ageism - A Challenge

Oscars Flub & the Knee-Jerk Response That is Ageism – A Challenge

So, I watched the Oscars with a friend last night.  As midnight here on the East Coast neared, it was time to reveal the winning film for the Best Picture category. Like a bizarre replay of the recent Miss Universe

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In Response to the PBS Documentary, "Alzheimer's: Every Minute Counts"

In Response to the PBS Documentary, “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts”

There is much buzz about the PBS’ documentary, “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts” in culture change circles this week.  Award-winning author and world-renowned geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas offers an inspiring counter perspective to the “tragedy narrative” we are all so —

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"Otherization" ... Fuel for Ageism, Foe to Person-Directed Culture

“Otherization” … Fuel for Ageism, Foe to Person-Directed Culture

As culture changers, we make it a daily practice to reach beyond labels and assumptions to deeply know each unique individual. Is it always easy? No. But we know that this alone makes it possible for us to transform the

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McKnights Features Bill Thomas and the Impact of Loneliness

McKnights Features Bill Thomas and the Impact of Loneliness

As change agents, remember when we had to fight to be heard about the impact of loneliness on the human spirit?  In the nearly 14 years I’ve been doing this work, I recall a lot of strained conversations about well-being

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Do You Have GRIT?

Do You Have GRIT?

Leading Age Keynote Speaker Angela Duckworth Has the Answer… Grit.  What is it?  According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, there are very specific markers that define grit.  The cliff notes are essentially this:  perseverance and passion over the long-term.  Sound familiar? 

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Beth Baker on the Village Movement and Cultivating Diversity

Beth Baker on the Village Movement and Cultivating Diversity

I’m posting from the 2016 Leading Age Annual Meeting in Indianapolis and have just returned from a panel discussion about the age-friendly community movement.  This global initiative takes a systems approach to creating communities that accommodate and value people of

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An Excerpt from "Relentlessly Pursuing Wonder:  9th Gathering of the Annual CUSP Conference"

An Excerpt from “Relentlessly Pursuing Wonder: 9th Gathering of the Annual CUSP Conference”

Here’s a thoughtful reflection on the work of Bill Thomas by Nate Burgos of Design Feaster.  This is just an excerpt from the whole piece, which explores wonder from a variety of perspectives.  I’m struck by the phrase “Start living your damn

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Home is Where Well-Being Is

Home is Where Well-Being Is

 This article of mine was published in PS Magazine, Issue 15 on Page 16.  It’s based on a personal story that affirms, without a doubt, that home is where the heart is. Jackie loves the arts… opera in particular.  At

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Change Agents as Wayfinders

Change Agents as Wayfinders

Life coach Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, captures the key qualities of what she calls a “Wayfinder.”  (No, Martha is not my kin, by the way.) Wayfinders, by her definition, look a lot like culture

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Signature HealthCARE Rocks Elder Vacations... Again

Signature HealthCARE Rocks Elder Vacations… Again

I am always so inspired by this organization’s commitment to living the ten principles of The Eden Alternative in big ways.  Undaunted, they have changed lives by arranging multiple Elder vacations for the people who live in their communities.  There was

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Calling on the Past to Heal the Present

Calling on the Past to Heal the Present

This article, published in PS Magazine in the May/June 2016 issue, Pages 18-22, highlights how Elder stories are a source of healing not only on a personal level, but on a global one as well.   Explore how two unique stories illustrate the vast

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Mariachi and Mom

Mariachi and Mom

This article was published in PS Magazine in the November/December 2015 issue, Pages 22-23.   After my mother passed away in 2010, my family gathered at a Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, Texas to take comfort in the ballads sung

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Finding Ourselves Through Our Teachers

Finding Ourselves Through Our Teachers

What I love most about the concept of care partnership is the opportunity to discover new teachers and even be surprised by who they might be. The 18-year anniversary of my father’s passing has just recently come and gone, and

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International Eden Elder Award Winner Honored in Local News

International Eden Elder Award Winner Honored in Local News

Alice Lute stole the show at the 2016 Eden Alternative International Conference… in more ways than one.  Not only was she an honored recipient of the 2016 International Eden Elder Award alongside Lucy Kennedy, but she took away the top

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Inspired Words Make Worlds

Inspired Words Make Worlds

In honor of National Nursing Home Week, we have a treat for you.  We, at The Eden Alternative, recently had the distinct honor of receiving three different poems from 3 inspired change agents.  Not only do they touch the heart

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2016 Conference... Hit Rewind, View Highlights

2016 Conference… Hit Rewind, View Highlights

Something happens for me at the end of every Eden Alternative International Conference.  Within moments of the conference closing, I feel it… a sense of let-down or perhaps it’s “good vibes” grief.  After two years of planning and nearly a

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Got Talent? Bring It, Baby…

It’s the same story for every Eden Alternative International Conference.  We are days away, and there are just a few submissions for the notorious Eden’s Got Talent event.  Yet, every year the show ends up being a total delight, complete

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Principle One Gets the Spotlight in McKnights

Principle One Gets the Spotlight in McKnights

Yesterday, McKnight’s posted an interesting article highlighting The Eden Alternative’s Principle One — access it here.  For those of you who need a little context, Principle One of the Eden Alternative Philosophy states that “The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom account

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Consumer Education Changes the Game Where Care is Concerned

Consumer Education Changes the Game Where Care is Concerned

Yesterday, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Promise You’ll Never Put Me in a Nursing Home.” I agree with Dr. Bill’s Thomas’ assertion in this piece that having the right language for what we’re asking for is really the

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Coach Each Other, Grow Together, Change Lives

Coach Each Other, Grow Together, Change Lives

Last summer, we had the pleasure of working with 20 nursing homes from California and Colorado for a grant project of ours. One of the grant activities involved connecting project participants with culture change leaders who had an exceptional track

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Building Bridges in a Virtual World

Building Bridges in a Virtual World

It’s 8:00 a.m. I pop open my laptop and begin my morning ritual of checking my email inbox. Here I am again, communing with the virtual world, instead of the real world. As I’m thinking that there’s just no heart in all of this technology, something, well, cracks open my heart. Buried amidst thirty unopened messages is a little gem, something “sweet” that the sender thinks I “will enjoy.”

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Knocking on the Backdoor to the Soul

Knocking on the Backdoor to the Soul

It’s 1995. My father, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, sits across from me in a restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He is quiet, staring at his hands in his lap. Most of the day, he’s seemed lost in his own world… one I can’t quite seem to reach. While we sit there, picking at our food, a Flamenco guitarist sets up in the corner of the room and begins to strum a few chords.

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Making It Count with The Passions Project

Making It Count with The Passions Project

My neighbor Sara once told me, “If there’s anything you feel passionately about doing, do it now.” Her words gave me pause. Was I living my passion, I wondered? Was I being true to myself? In her 70’s, Sara had a love for travel and would journey each winter to someplace new… the more remote and challenging the destination, the better.

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The Delicate Dance

The Delicate Dance

Sometimes, the most extraordinary feats come in subtle, yet profound, packages. As human beings, I find that our greatest displays of strength and courage are often those that are deeply rooted in our vulnerability.

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Seeking Belle Davenport

Seeking Belle Davenport

I come from a long line of head-strong women. On my mother’s side, these iron-willed souls settled corners of the Central Texas Hill Country, where, to this day, I can still bump into cousins I’ve never had the pleasure to meet. It was no surprise, then, when this same determination spurred my 28-year old niece to unravel some enduring family mysteries.

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Colorado Grant Project Says Optimizing Medication Usage Packs a Punch

The conversation about rethinking medication use is getting more interesting. While important strides are being made to reduce antipsychotic use, the issue is actually only one piece in a puzzle that has even larger impact.

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Oklahoma Sees Results from Dementia Training... and More is On the Way

Oklahoma Sees Results from Dementia Training… and More is On the Way

In 2014, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) awarded The Eden Alternative grant dollars to support Oklahoma’s reduction of antipsychotic drug use through the delivery of Dementia Beyond Drugs training.

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Culture Change... Why NOW?

Culture Change… Why NOW?

‘It’s About Time!’ can be interpreted in different ways: first, picture someone standing with their arms folded across their chest. It may be an authority figure, admonishing someone who is late….’It’s About Time!’ It could be the world admonishing us for taking so long to change the culture of eldercare.

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Oklahoma Takes on Dementia Beyond Drugs

Oklahoma Takes on Dementia Beyond Drugs

Since 2011, three states have provided funded registration for this training to hundreds of nursing home employees through the support of CMP funds. This year, Oklahoma is stepping up to the plate by welcoming geriatrician and award-winning author Dr. Al Power to facilitate three Dementia Beyond Drugs events in May 2015.

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Looking Back: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Looking Back: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Open Mouth, Insert Foot

This rebuttal to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel from our own Laura Beck was our most popular blog post of the year.

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Changing the Game with the Passions Project

Changing the Game with the Passions Project

Sometimes amidst the chaos, there are moments of clarity, when we’re reminded why we do the work we do. I had one of those moments last October, during one of those speaking engagements when you’re not sure anyone really cares what you have to say.

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Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

A doctor noted for his role as a key architect of President Obama’s healthcare reform reminded us just how narrow the lens of the medical model is when it comes to aging.  In an article posted this morning in the

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Living with Dementia:  "We Shall Overcome..."

Living with Dementia: “We Shall Overcome…”

Living with dementia is about changing abilities, not necessarily growing older. You can be a younger adult and still live with dementia. It’s true that, statistically speaking, a large number of people living with dementia are older people. But to compartmentalize the experience of dementia as an aging issue alone is a very bad habit on the part of society.

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In Pursuit of the Tipping Point

In Pursuit of the Tipping Point

Last week, someone asked me to clarify some things about our Dementia Beyond Drugs training that made me realize that there are still some misconceptions floating around out there regarding the vision behind it. I’d like to share some of my thoughts on this, while noting that Dr. Al Power, the award-winning author of the book by the same name, may have a few of his own.

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Mississippi Fights the Good Fight

Mississippi Fights the Good Fight

A year ago, I posted a blog about the efforts of the State of Kentucky to help decrease antipsychotic use.  Like the State of Tennessee before them, Kentucky change agents had chosen education as a key feature of their reduction

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Person-Directed Mouth Care – A QAPI Strategy

Person-Directed Mouth Care – A QAPI Strategy

As conversations about QAPI heat up, it becomes exceedingly clear that person-directed practices are a powerful complement to performance improvement.  Person-directed care actually strengthens efforts to improve clinical practice, aligning further with QAPI guidelines.  Take mouth care, for example.  When

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Homewatch CareGivers: Taking It to the Streets

Homewatch CareGivers: Taking It to the Streets

As someone who first discovered The Eden Alternative as a family member, I’ve always been passionate about how person-directed care can make a difference in home and community-based settings. The marriage of the two has always been a no-brainer to

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Minimizing Preventable Illnesses: A Person-Directed Case Study

Proactive approaches to preventing illness can transform quality of care and quality of life.  There are even more gains when organizations create fully integrated performance improvement strategies that keep in mind the overall well-being of all involved.  Why is this

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Boomers Face Cultural Conundrum

The April issue of Provider features an article that challenges Americans “to grow up – or just grow old.” This caught my eye, as we talk a lot about perspectives on aging at The Eden Alternative. The issue is particularly

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Creating Home

Have  you seen our new video? Definitely the best one yet. Watch and Share.

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Stage Two of Tribal Leadership: "My Life Sucks"

“People in Stage Two have pretty much taken themselves out of the game. They find themselves cynical or in despair, so they’ve disconnected from others in the workspace,” says John King, Tribal Leadership.

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Exploring Tribal Leadership: Stage One

Several weeks back I posted a blog featuring an interview with John King, author of the best-selling book Tribal Leadership:  Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization and a keynote speaker at the 2014 Eden Alternative International Conference. During

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Culture Change is for Everyone – Talkin' Bout a Revolution

The first time I met Bill Thomas was in 1996 in San Marcos, Texas.  My father was living with Alzheimer’s disease and had found home in a long-term care community new to the Eden Alternative journey.  In town for an

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A Year Reimagined

I received an invitation to be inspired this New Year’s Eve and Day, and I’m so delighted that I accepted it.  Living in Ithaca, NY, I seized the chance to attend First Fest, sponsored by the Life Reimagined Institute at

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Rhythm for Unity: Drumming and Person-Directed Care

I hold dear a particular moment during the 2010 Eden Alternative International Conference in Denver. During the evening welcoming ceremony, residents from the North Star Community in Denver gathered in a circle at the center of the space and began

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“Building Bridges” Between Youth and Elders

Over the last couple of months, Virgil Thomas and I have blogged quite a bit about the impacts of ageism on both Elders and youth.  In these blogs, we encouraged readers to embrace fully what ageism actually means:  “prejudice against

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Growing as a Tribal Leader: An Interview with Best-Selling Author John King

As culture changers, we know that, without the support of leadership, we have little chance of making it. When wise leadership isn’t on board, our efforts are dead in the water, perhaps even sinking. As we dig deeper into understanding

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Project Generations Masters the Art of Creating a Caring Community

Tori, an Ithaca College masters student in Occupational Therapy, is chatting with me over finger sandwiches and veggie roll-ups.  We are table mates at the annual banquet for Project Generations, an intergenerational initiative that pairs college students with community Elders

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