CARP Convention 2010: welcome to the Canadian Association of Re-energized Persons

In late October, CARP Chapter Chairs and members from across Canada gathered at the InterContinental Centre in Toronto for the 2010 CARP Convention. The CARP Conference kicked off the event on Thursday the 28th, followed up by the Annual General Meeting on the Friday and the Zoomer Show on the Saturday and Sunday. There was a consensus among members and chapters that this year’s CARP Convention was the very best CARP event they had attended. Attendees headed home inspired, informed, engaged, elated and ready to make our New Vision of Aging a reality.

Mini Idea City Conference on Age, Aging and Longevity

The CARP Conference, modeled after the highly successful “Idea-City” is a one day event featuring 15 of the world’s brightest minds speaking on important health, wellness & longevity topics that affect Zoomers. This year’s focus: age, aging, longevity and spiritual, mental and physical secrets that will contribute to it.

Attendees were regaled by the patriotic musical stylings of singer Ada Lee, an 83-year-old jazz and gospel singer of international fame who has performed alongside legends like Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington. The first speaker, David Stripp, (author of Youth Pill: Scientists on the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution) told the audience that scientists were trying to identify the genes that allowed people to live longer and that one day, we would have a pill that would turn on anti-aging molecules in our bodies.

Highlights also included Iconic Canadian artist Charles Pachter, Canadian Stage and Television Actor Eric Peterson. Music and Media Professor as well as Director of the Opera of the Future Group at MIT, Tod Machover spoke about how his musical innovations are helping a variety of medical conditions and enhancing lifelong mental and physical activity. He told the audience about Hyperscore, a computer program he invented that allows children to compose music by drawing and painting on a screen that turns the doodles into musical scores. It also allowed a man with cerebral palsy to successfully compose his own music. His mentor, Elliott Carter, is 102 and he remains very active in the music world. Machover says “that’s why he (his mentor) stays so young.”

CARP Business – October 29th: the AGM

Chapter and Executive board members were in agreement: this year’s AGM was the best to date. They lauded the information sharing, the opportunities to learn and network and the general quality of the experience. CARP President Moses Znaimer drummed up some excitement when opened the session with a brief talk that outlined his vision for CARP and for ZoomerMedia.

A major highlight was the address given by Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan who released his pension reform consultation paper at the CARP AGM and launched the consultation process with a Town Hall on Pension Reform and Post-Retirement Income, fielding questions from CARP Chapter chairs from across the country.

In was indicative of the clout and credibility CARP has earned over the past year and reinforced our crucial role in the retirement income security debate. In feedback provided to National Office post-AGM, members said they saw Mr. Duncan’s appearance as real evidence that Susan Eng’s work in advocacy is bringing traction to the issues and to the idea that older voters are the most politically engaged and important voting demographic. By being associated with such a advocacy heavy-hitter, they were more confident of the potential success of their own campaigns and initiatives. It impressed upon members that politicians know they can no longer afford to ignore CARP’s issues and they are now bringing their message directly to us.

There was also a strong sense of vitality and of the progress that CARP is making in terms of its mission, identity and rebranding.

“Moses jokes that it now stands for Canadian Association of Rejuvenated or Recharged as opposed to Retired People and I think that people were picking up on that energy. The overall feeling and outlook this year was much more positive… The experience for chapter and advisory board members was that we are gaining momentum, it reinforced why we got involved with CARP and what CARP can achieve”, said Ross Mayot, VP of Community Development.

There were also many new faces, about 25% of the people in the room were new Chapter representatives and the AGM gave them the opportunity to learn from some of the established chapters and benefit from CARP’s strong grasp of the issues and sense of tradition. On the flipside, their presence brought fresh and new ideas to the discussion.

“The Chapters have done so much this year. Now more than ever, there is a real ‘can do’ attitude prevailing in the Chapter executives. The initiatives they are undertaking and the causes they are getting involved with reflect the notion that the CARP Chapters are community resources, that they are our eyes and ears on the ground and that they keep the larger organization in tune with the realities in their individual communities”, added Mayot.

This year, we also asked Chapter Chairs to report on highlights from their respective regions. This provided an opportunity for the Chapter Chairs to exchange tips and tricks and learn from each other. We were also able to get a representation of how they were able to build a sense of purpose, reach out to the media and how they were introducing new people to CARP while reinforcing ties with current members. With respect to recruiting new members, Chapter Chairs were excited to see CARP’s new “advertorial” video and to learn that they would have access to new video ressources.

Although the Chapters don’t all share the same interest and respective issues, there are some commonalities. Coming out of the AGM, they would like to have more opportunities for these types of face-to-face meetings. CARP will explore how it can facilitate more inter-Chapter meetings and synergies. Members and Chapters were also provided with the opportunity to hear from the affinity partners and to question them directly.

Conventioneers’ Comments:
• I didn’t attend last year’s conference but attended four or more prior to that. This was by far my best. I came away energized and excited about CARP’s new direction…I sensed a new dynamism and vibrancy to CARP. I am very impressed with the new leadership and with all the CARP staff. – Bruce Bird, North Fraser Chapter Chair