Silver Cities: Staying relevant

On March 23, Madelaine Albright, America’s first female Secretary of State (1997-2001) died. She embodied the American dream – to come to the United States with her family as a young refugee and to achieve and contribute to our civil society all her life. She was also a model of what life can be like in a silver town like Georgetown – an engaged neighbor who lived in the same house for decades (on 34th Street), doing everything from helping her daughters sell cookies scouts in the neighborhood to host his grandchildren, friends, diplomats, state and Georgetown University colleagues for laptop dinners at home and often at his neighborhood pub, Martin’s Tavern. Over the past 20 years, Albright has been one of Georgetown University’s most popular professors, authored several books, been frequently interviewed, and written editorials and articles. “Resilience of mind, more than intellect, is the key to life,” she wrote.

But Albright also modeled the fulfillment of what is the often unspoken deepest desire of most people from all walks of life as they age: to stay relevant.

Georgetown is full of high achievers, many of whom are famous. Many of those who come here to build their careers, networks, brands and reputations end up staying. As Georgetown becomes a silver town – that is, a friendly and comfortable town for aging people – many VIPs decide to downsize to a lifestyle with more free time and enough money to enjoy. of a comfortable life. It is then, however, that the unexpected often happens, according to Peter Bregman, a C-suite executive coach writing in the Harvard Business Review: The once fully engaged VIP, always excessively busy, surrounded by colleagues and friends demanding and busy businessman, suddenly becomes depressed. As they get busy, the emails and phone calls dwindle – even from the now adult children who were planned to spend more time with them, but now the kids don’t have any – the extremely active former VIP “may increasingly feel that it doesn’t matter anymore. They don’t have a big purpose anymore. Some feel lost.

It turns out that staying relevant, engaged with others with a sense of purpose, is the primary factor in a healthy aging process, regardless of age, condition, or past life. This has been particularly difficult over the past two years, as pandemic restrictions have halted almost all in-person social activities. Above all, it separated active and committed volunteers, donors and staff from the good works in which they were involved.

Isabelle “Didi” Cutler. “For years between my travels and my work for global organizations, I had been hosting ‘international teas and conversations’ in my home,” Isabel “Didi” Cutler, longtime Georgetown resident and renowned diplomatic photographer told The Georgetowner. She had traveled extensively with her husband Walter, a former US ambassador to Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, before becoming president of Meridian House. She has supported, among other organizations, the International Student House on R St. NW and the Young Concert Artists in New York and was a board member of the United Nations Development Programme.

Isabelle “Didi” Cutler. Photo courtesy of International Student House, DC

But during the pandemic, Didi focused on her other lifelong passion: portrait and landscape photography. In 2001 his hardback “Mysteries of the Desert” with lush full-page photos of the Saudi desert was published. Therefore, she was commissioned by the governments of Spain, Qatar, Kuwait and Syria to photograph their countries. So over the past two years of Covid, Cutler has assembled a book of harrowing photographic portraits from his archives – particularly of women and children, “the face of the Middle East”.

“Staying relevant means staying connected to your community,” Cutler said. “It’s about sharing and passing on your experiences, wisdom and expertise however you can.”

Marjorie Margolies. Former congresswoman, five-time Emmy-winning journalist, female international diplomat and mother of 11 children and 21 grandchildren, Marjorie Margolies (79) shares the same experience of improving Covid business and ambition , by writing a very readable and inspiring book “And how are the children? Timeless Lessons from The Frontline of Motherhood,” 2022. “I was so engaged before Covid,” recalls Margolies, a former congresswoman from Pennsylvania who in 1995 led the U.S. delegation to the Fourth International Women’s Conference of United Nations in Beijing. She followed that up in 1998 by founding the Women’s Campaign International and teaching a journalism seminar with David Eisenhower at the Annenberg School of Communication in Philadelphia. She has intertwined all of these accomplishments while being a very committed mother of 11 children (including five adopted from different countries) and 21 grandchildren (including 3 whom she shares with the Clintons as her son Mark is married to Chelsea Clinton) .

But the pandemic shutdowns around the world have been a chance for Margolies to reflect on all she’s been through – including her many firsts. His animated book about a very complicated, busy and sometimes incredibly difficult life (see page 130!!), is full of anecdotes and ideas. The former journalist, politician, international organizer and supermom continues to teach, consult and put things into perspective. And by the way, the children all behaved well.

“We are still here after all,” Margolies said. “We are still alive and want to be a part of this when it all comes back. We cannot remain stuck on the problems. There is always an “after”, a “well, so what, now?

There are always ways to stay relevant.

Key wordsAnd how are the children? Timeless Lessons from The Frontline of MotherhoodAnnenberg School for CommunicationChelsea ClintonD.C.David EisenhowerDidi CutlerGeorgetowngeorgetown UniversityHarvard Business ReviewInternational Woman’s Conference in BeijingMadeleine AlbrightMarjorie MargoliesMartin’s TavernMysteries of the DesertPeter BregmanphotographySilver CitiesU.S. Department of StateUnited Nations