Better Together
For nearly two decades, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University has paired with Fall for the Book to promote books and literacy in northern Virginia. Fall for the Book, a non-profit affiliate of George Mason University, sponsors a book festival every autumn to showcase local and nationally acclaimed authors, part of the university’s goal to extend its learning mission into the community. OLLI at Mason hosts several of the book talk events on its campus, introducing the festival to its membership and beyond. 

The pairing is a win-win. OLLI members get a sneak peak of the festival agenda and priority registration for the events that best match membership interests, usually talks on award winning fiction, biographies, or history books. In recent years, students delighted in presentations and dialogues with notables such as Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad), Delia Owens (Where the Crawdads Sing), and Lauren Groff (Fate and Furies). In return, Fall for the Book enjoys free venues for accommodating even more events for eager readers, and amplified advertising of its events within the community. 

The Fall for the Book Festival is going online this fall to ensure everyone’s safety in the era of COVID-19. While members won’t get to brush up with authors in person, everyone everywhere will now be able to tune in for a front row seat to enjoy wonderful book talks, workshops, and readings that please the whole family. This year’s headliners include Rainbow Rowell and Tommy Orange, along with Porochista Khakpour, Emily Wilson, David Marwell, Art Taylor, and so many more. Visit the festival website for a full listing of the festival offerings and to learn more about this popular event.

So, as the cold weather settles in outside, grab your comfy chair, log into your laptop, and escape to the warm embrace of great literature from your home.

Submitted by: Alice Slayton-Clark, Communications and Program Associate, OLLI at George Mason University
How a Pandemic Provided a New Promotional Opportunity
Nothing creates the will to change more than a crisis. In this case, the crisis is a global pandemic leaving Osher leaders to ponder new ways to engage with OLLI members. With physical distancing, self-isolating and remote learning the new normal, reaching potential new audiences is a challenge. However, there are also new opportunities, perhaps some that have been overlooked, until now.

Lincoln’s television educational access channel has been in place since the mid-1990s. Programming on this channel is typically allocated to local schools and universities by the City of Lincoln. The City provides services, equipment, and television production facilities. The only cost is the use of City staff assisting in producing programming. With a focus on in-person courses and activities, this local resource had never been used by OLLI.

Fall Blub Planting (18 Minutes)
The First Amendment (25 Minutes)

Submitted by: Patricia Saldana, Communications Associate, OLLI at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Collaborating Across the State for a Joint Online Program
When the University of Delaware’s on-site OLLI programs were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, some classes were able to continue their discussions virtually for the rest of the semester. Virtual social groups kept OLLI interactions alive, and OLLI’s extracurricular needlecraft groups sewed masks for donation. In the meantime, staff and volunteers set their sights on developing and launching a fully-online pilot program that ultimately enrolled more than 700 participants in over 40 courses and activities for a one-month summer offering.

The videoconferencing format was new to many, but instructors and students adapted quickly, crediting OLLI staff and volunteers for providing the needed support and virtual hand-holding. OLLI staff and volunteers held numerous Zoom training sessions and persevered through many first-time challenges. “I am amazed at how much I'm enjoying the virtual interaction,” said OLLI member Marge Felty. “We're navigating new territory together and learning in the comfort of our own homes.” In addition to taking OLLI classes, Felty hosted a bi-weekly “Whatever Makes You Happy Hour” with fellow OLLI member Susan Watkins.

The UD OLLI programs normally operate as largely independent locations in Wilmington, Bridgeville, Dover, Lewes and Ocean View, Delaware, but have joined forces to share strengths among staff, volunteers, instructors, committees and membership, said UD OLLI managers Jennifer Merrill and Anna Moshier. Following a successful summer program, the fall semester is now underway with nearly 1,900 enrollments and more than 200 course offerings. “Science of the Delaware Coast” (photo above from 2019) is an example of a site-based course that was adapted as a virtual offering. Initially hosted on-location at UD’s marine sciences campus through a partnership with the Delaware Sea Grant program, it was adapted as “Water Sciences Grab Bag” for an online summer offering with 84 participants.

“Everyone who took the class told me how remarkable the speakers were and how much they enjoyed hearing about UD’s research,” said Moshier. “Our members feel more a part of UD through this initiative.” Another all-online UD OLLI Online Spring 2021 semester is currently in the planning stages.

2020 Virtual Osher Institutes National Conference
Keynote Address by Jonathan Rauch
The Happiness U-Curve: Why Life Turns Around in Middle Age
Monday, October 26th, 11am - Noon Central

Midlife crisis, like the Seinfeld show, is often literally about nothing. Yet it seems unshakable for those experiencing it. Society treats it as a joke or a cliché, yet it is natural, normal, and lays groundwork for surprising happiness and wisdom in later adulthood. Drawing on cutting-edge psychology, neuroscience, and even economics, while also tapping his own experiences and those of dozens of interviewees, Jonathan Rauch — author of the major Atlantic magazine cover article "The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis" and the engaging book, “The Happiness Curve” – explains why even chimps get midlife malaise, and how humans can cope with it far better than we do. Rauch emphasizes that older adults are healthier, happier, and have more to give than ever before, and they and society are already starting to invent new ways to contribute. The old black-and-white distinction between work and retirement is giving way to the mixed pursuits of “encore adulthood.”

Jonathan Rauch
Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution
Contributing Editor, The Atlantic
Author, The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50
Dear Olli
Dear Olli,
I’m very excited for the upcoming virtual conference. This might be a silly question, but what should I wear?
~OLLI Member

Dear OLLI Member,
It is not a silly question, as depending on the presentations you attend, you may be asked to be on camera. Several of our smaller group sessions will have interactive elements that ask participants to engage (and view) other participants. You will never be required to have your video camera on, but it does add to the discussions when applicable. So, if you do attend sessions where you will be on camera, we suggest wearing whatever you are comfortable wearing. You can be formal, business casual, or just plain casual; anything from a tee shirt to a tuxedo. Just use common sense as to what is appropriate, and as the camera typically only shows from the shoulders up, we won’t ask if you’re wearing any pants. :-)

Have a question for Olli? Please send it in care of Kevin Connaughton (kevin.connaughton@northwestern.edu). 
Quick Tip - Tell Members about the Osher NRC Monthly Newsletter
The Osher NRC publishes this monthly e-newsletter with the hope that it is interesting and useful to Osher Institute staff, volunteer leaders, members, as well as others in the world of lifelong learning. A great way for Institutes to spread the word about happenings throughout the Osher Network is to encourage members to subscribe to the Osher NRC Monthly Newsletter in your own e-newsletters as shown above in this example from the OLLI at Northwestern University.
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