Senior citizens solve world’s problems at Hannah Community Center

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Judy Wattenberg in the back and Char Vogan in the front.

Char Vogan

When senior citizens get together to talk, their conversation can range from rebuilding schools to politics, jobs, the Affordable Care Act and the melting of the Antarctic ice shelf.

This “Let’s Talk About …” conversation occurred Feb. 14 at the Hannah Community Center among 11 people.

They even briefly discussed the announcement surrounding Beyonce being pregnant with twins, to which one of the member’s in the group discussion said she thinks that it will be a boy and a girl.

One of the main topics was the recently proposed idea to tear down and rebuild five new elementary schools by 2021 as part of a nearly $100 million bond issue.

“I don’t know too much about it, but it seems kind of excessive to build five new schools,” said Judy Wattenberg. “They’re not projecting what will be, in terms of the demographics.”

According to one of the members 68-70 percent of people who live in East Lansing are college students. This concerns the group because they are the taxpayers and wonder if rebuilding the schools is even necessary.

Joyce Macrorie

Joyce Macrorie

“I question the need,” said Joyce Macrorie. “I need a lot more information before I can take a position on it, but I think that mine is going to be negative. That’s too many new schools to put up in a town/city of this size, and I don’t know where the money is coming from. So they need to do a lot more work to explain to the public what it’s all about.”

Another concern was East Lansing being more than $1 million in debt for pensions.

The group talked about technology possibly causing robotics to put many humans out of work. One member said robotics will eventually eliminate half of the jobs in the United States.

“In terms of employment, the needs are different,” said Wattenberg. “You would study sheet metal, you know, but now you don’t have to. More and more things are going to be automated. You go to a hospital and the drugs come up from the pharmacy on a robot. I think it’s great, not thinking about the people that are out of work because of it, but I think it may be more efficient. You have to be able to sit back and look at what was and what is and not think of the good ol’ days necessarily, cause the good ol’ days were also good ol’ bad days. So that’s my philosophy.”

One man mentioned that education is profoundly changing because of the changing technology of education. He predicted most colleges will disappear and classes will be taken online. The seniors mentioned how when they were kids, they didn’t have to do anything that kids today are learning. When they started school, they started with an inkwell, they weren’t required to know their abc’s or write their names. They also mentioned the possibility of homeschooling and said even 4-year-olds are learning on iPads and how to read not only in English but in different languages, as well. They even joked that soon people will be writing books with just emojis.

However one woman said children still need to learn the basics when the electronic world blanks out sometimes. She described a time recently when she was at a store and the clerk could not tell her, her change. They also mentioned how easy it is for a toddler to pick up a phone and ask Siri a math related question and her give them the answer instead of the child learning how to do it on their own.

The group agreed more people should realize that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are the same thing and they found it fascinating that with the world we live in today with so much information available on social media, that that’s even possible to not know.

The seniors discussed a need for a building for seniors, but mentioned someone trying to build three different structures in East Lansing on Chandler Road that will be called Senior Housing. Their problem with this idea is that they have grouped the seniors of the city into one homogeneous group and they simply aren’t. They mentioned that they vary in age, interests, activity level, living conditions and that there are some who would love to live in a seniors only environment and some who would like diversity and to talk to college students. Wattenberg pointed out that there is a big difference between a senior citizen who is 65, one who is 80, one who is 90 and one who is 100.

They even talked about how on the news recently, it was said that there is a huge chunk of ice from the Antarctic that will melt and raise the water level.

To partake in the next “Let’s Talk About…” discussion you can find out about more information on East Lansing’s website.

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