Collington Director Marvell Adams reassures staff team that they are all “part of a large and close knit international family” and that “Collington stands firmly shoulder to shoulder with all of you”

Obviously, this is not as easy time for those of us who believe that all human beings are brothers and sisters, that diversity is a strength not a weakness, and that we are obliged to act in accordance with those beliefs.

It is important, and may become even more important as time goes by, that we feel part of a community that understands this, and can act appropriately based on it.

I am again proud of Collington, and hope that we can be a national model, as I here report the efforts made by our Director to support those who may need it.

Here is the full text of the letter sent by Marvell to the staff today.

January 30, 2017
Dear Member of the Collington Team,
Each and every one of you reading this is a part of a large and close knit international family here at Collington.  We represent numerous countries from all over the world and proudly celebrate that diversity throughout our community.
As you undoubtedly are aware, an executive order recently signed by President Trump placed a ban on immigration into the United States from certain countries.  This ban is currently being challenged within our judicial system.  Be that as it may, I feel it is important for you to know that Collington stands firmly shoulder to shoulder with all of you.  We welcome with open arms all individuals.
In writing this letter, I am reaffirming Collington’s commitment:
“To encourage and welcome all people without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by law, to live in our communities and to serve on our staffs and boards.”
–  Excerpt from our Values & Practices
As a reminder, you have access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which can help with a variety of personal concerns including legal matters.  You can utilize this service at no cost to you and confidentially by calling Carebridge Employee Assistance Program toll-free, 1-800-437-0911, for immediate consultation.  Brochures with more information can be picked up in Human Resources or by visiting (website access code:  XEGKX).
Thank you for all you do in service to the Collington Family.
Marvell Adams
Executive Director

Here is the cover note that Marvell sent to the Board of Directors with the above.  It includes some important background information.

Dear Collington Board Members,
Today I shared th[is] letter to all staff of Collington.  I am sharing with you as well for your information and knowledge of how we are supporting our staff.
For those that may not know, a significant portion of our staff are Muslim and/or immigrants and the recent executive order has many of them fearful even though they are all either naturalized citizens or permanent residents of the US.  As one staff member said to me today, “Collington could not exist without immigrants that come here to work.”
Thanks and be well.


I would urge residents to share with friends in other communities who might find this a useful model.

I would also remind that there are online tools to help people with such issues, as discussed here.

The Globalization of Politics and Thoughts on How Collington Could Play a Role

We at Collington enjoy perhaps the most globalized retirement community in the world.  Our wonderfully diverse and internationally connected friends here have inspired me to contemplate how we should think about the international digital interference with our elections in broader terms — as part of a long term process of globalization of elections and politics.  In The Globalization of Elections Will be a Great Thing — Provided We Survive This Awful First Phase I suggested  opening lines of communication with friends and communities around the world about these issues.

Perhaps as part of our strategic planning process we can contemplate what we can do at a personal and human level to foster international communication and collaboration.

The sum total of our e-mail communication is already undoubtedly far more international than is typical, and not just of retirement communities.  While we do not have email numbers, so far this year our website has been viewed by people in 72 countries.  Here is the map, interesting as much for the gaps (shown in white) as the inclusions (in yellow and red).


The top countries, perhaps not surprisingly, are the US, the United kingdom, Brazil, India,  France, Canada, Portugal, Italy and Puerto Rico (which is counted in the stats as a country). We all should be very proud of this, and see it as a foundation for our playing a continuing role in further internalization.

This website, of course, welcomes comments and other ideas, particularly as they relate to our strategic planning process.

Third Educational Presentation — Some Things Gardenspot Has Learned

A few week ago we heard from CEO Steve Lindsey of Gardenspot Village about the innovation process and how to create a culture that values and focuses upon innovation.  It was a powerful and highly stimulating presentation, made all the more relevant in its urging of activism by last weeks events.  I have partially caught some of his thoughts, but I urge all to listen to the video.

Do not do what everyone else is doing.  Do what no one is doing.

Everythng is changing.  He compared the photos of the Papal announcements of the last two Popes.  In the newer one, everyone effectively has a computer in his hand.

A Model for thinking about the health center.  Not like a hospital, but like a home.  Clusters of rooms with the focus being the kitchen, not the nursing station.  Breakfast when you want it, and what you want.  Do what you want with your time on your schedule.  Put people back in charge of their own lives.

“Think inside the box, be aware of constraints.  Innovation is where where passion meets constraints. Those constraints can be regulatory, financial, cultural, etc.  Use the constraints as your pivot to vision, mot to limit but to be realistic.

More varied inter-generational activity.  The usual inter-generational idea is a preschool.  But Gardenspot had a constraint.  There was already a great preschool.  Instead they build a kid-grandparent camp, to which kids come and stay with their relatives for a week.  The staff volunteer to help.  The project has no budget, yet builds connections between adults and grandchildren that empower all

Beyond Monochromatic.  The challenge is how to connect with other cultures. Through the Mennonite Central Committee, Garden spot created an international internship program in which your people come from all over the world for a year to work .

Think Big – Act small.  Its important to know that it is OK to fail, so do things in fail-able ways – i.e. that you can recover and take a new approach, rather than get seriously damaged.

Curate to create.  Gardenspot encourages everyone, whenever they see anything that impresses or inspires them to take and share a quick photo.  Their public space is inspired by a hotel lobby designed to serve as a community center — not just for the retirement group, but for the county community as a whole.  Being welcome to outsiders is transformative.  (We could use the website or the discussion list to do this.)

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”  Picasso.

Local is the New Organic.  Gardenspot has their own hdyophonic greenhouse, inspired by one in Zambia,  and by EPCOT.

We are in Post demographic society. Peoples’ preferences are no longer driven by their demographics.  People want huge variety in dining, and not only in food, but also in environments.  In dining, people also want booths, private conversation capacity, and a community table that becomes the center of the party.

A Culture of Innovation.  Every community has a culture. We need Culture of Innovation. One that is flexible, takes risks, is tolerant of failure, and always awake to possibility.

 Favorite Photo.  A 101 year old Mennonite resident banging in nails to help build a pre-made home that can be moved in components to disaster areas.

Activism driven by vision and purpose. At our age, others do the chores, we have purpose.  They are engaged in local and statewide politics, have person on the Governor’s Council on Ageing, a part of the watershed restoration group, and so on.  Let teams develop organically from residents own interests and drive.

Need a process to develop ideas and innovations.  This needs to be fluid.  There is a director’s conversation opportunity every other week to which everyone can come to get answers to questions and make suggestions.



There She Is . . . The Real Ms. America

The new issue of the Collingtonian, the monthly resident publication at our retirement community, Collington, includes a wonderful article about how the US got to its unmatched position in women’s sport.

It is an interview with Joan Hult, below, who played a pivotal role in making that happen, and her interview provides some powerful lessons about how societies change.  Read the whole article, and share with anyone who cares about any of these issues.


The article describes how it all got started:

Joan’s association with the U.S. Olympic Committee began in the 1960s, when “I went to them and I said, ‘You guys are never winning in women’s sports and that’s because we don’t teach women to play competitively.’ I said, ‘I can give you 10 women that are right now ready to win.’”

This was no idle boast. Since 1958, Joan had been at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., where she became chair of the women’s physical education department, coached
every women’s sport except gymnastics and founded the women’s intercollegiate sports program.

There was political savy too.

Working with Birch Bayh, a senator from her home state of Indiana, she helped bring about the passage of Title IX, an amendment to the Civil Rights Act.

Title IX is often described as promoting equality of men’s and women’s sports programs. But Joan pointed out that it wasn’t that simple. “We were smarter than that,” she said. Facing a predominantly male Congress and sports establishment, Title IX’s backers were careful to keep its language as neutral as possible. She recalled that she and Bayh “worked together quite well, although it’s really his wife that kind of talked him into taking this to Congress. He was smart enough to not have a bunch of women” as prominent advocates, so Joan and others worked behind the scenes.

The original Title IX never mentioned sports. It simply guaranteed equal access to educational opportunity. (Legislation in 1988 mandated gender equality in collegiate athletic scholarships.)

And so it gets to this (photos on google).

By the way, Joan’s book, A Century of Women’s Basketball: From Frailty to the Final Four, published in 1991, is on Amazon.

Richard Zorza’s Blog Post on Becoming a European-American, Rather Than a British-American

Given the high number of Collingtonians with European and other cross border roots and friendships, I thought it might be of interest if I shared by just-posted blog post on my politics and humor blog about yesterdays shocking referendum vote.


Watching the results last night, I started to realize that I now feel more European then British.  If, as a result of the referendum, I am offered the choice of a British (UK) passport or a general European one, I think I would take the European one.  As a US dual passport holder, who has not lived in the UK since the beginning of 1968, I am not here renouncing my UK rights, but given that choice, that’s my feeling today.  It does not help that I did not even have the right to vote in the UK referendum, even though it is likely to result in the loss of my UK-based right to live and work in the EU.  (By the way, at the end of World War II, many people faced complex changes in citizenship, with hard to make choices.)

I, like many expats, have extensive family links in the EU, in my case in Poland, so that impacts my feelings.  I might even have rights to EU citizenship through Poland, Ireland, or even Scotland (assuming they leave the UK and join the EU, through ancestors.  But, that’s the point, we are European citizens, rather than UK or English ones, just like we are American, rather than Maryland citizens.

I am strongly influenced by respect for the German response to the refugee crisis, which is literally orders of magnitude better than the American.  (Germany has a bit more than a quarter of the US population, but is admitting 200 times the number of Syrian refugees, for a  multiplier of close to 800 times the US per capita rate).

But above all, Europeans have been far more forceful in promoting the European Project, while the latest vote is only the latest manifestation of British ambivalence going back to the 1950’s.  That was reflected in the appalling campaign, that was all, on both sides, about appeal to selfish interests.  (There’s a long history of this.  The Tory election slogan in 1959, inevitably reflecting Britain’s class realities, was “You’ve Never Had It So Good.  Note the “You.”)

In a positive campaign, the challenges Europe is facing would be a reason to stay and help, not one to flee and, literally, closing the UK (or probably just parts of it if) off.  I nearly typed “reason for us to stay and help,” and then realized that I do not feel “us” any more.

I suspect that many, but far from all, UK expats are feeling some of this today.  Even though the EU Project may be able to move forward, at least in the long term, better without the UK, it will ultimately be a less valuable project without my birth country.