The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

13 May 2008

Swinging and Surfing

The ageing population: Population ageing is taking place in many highly developed countries. Amongst those countries classified by the United Nations as more developed (with a combined population of 1.2 billion in 2005), the median age of the population rose from 29.0 in 1950 to 37.3 in 2000, and is forecast to rise to 45.5 by 2050. The corresponding figures for the world as a whole are 23.9 for 1950, 26.8 for 2000, and 37.8 for 2050. In Japan, one of the fastest aging countries in the world, in 1950 there were 9.3 people under 20 for every person over 65, but by 2025 this ratio will become 0.59 people under 20 for every person older than 65.

Unless the elderly remain engaged in productive and creative activity for longer, this could cause problems as a smaller and smaller workforce creates the wealth to sustain a larger and larger population of retirees. But as the world develops, and as a result of medical advances and healthier work environments, older people are remaining fit and active for much longer.

Here are some initiatives which seek to engage older people in the modern world:

Silver Surfers' Day: This takes place in the UK on 23rd May 2008. The idea is to help nearly 10 million over-50s who haven't yet got online and tasted cyber-life, to introduce them to the delights of surfing.

However old you are, and whether you represent an organisation or are just an individual, you can take part.

If you are a big business, a small business, a sheltered housing scheme, a community centre, a library, a school, a pub, a bingo hall, a sports club – or even one person in your own home – you can hold an IT taster event on Silver Surfers' Day that could be a trigger point for changing older people's lives.

You just need to offer an hour or so of your time per visitor and the Silver Surfer Learning Zone will do the rest. Log your email address to receive Learning Zone handouts (on everything from the basics to blogging, online shopping to I-player).

Silver Surfers' Day:

Swinging singles at 70 and beyond: You’re never too old. Seniors are leading more active sex lives. They're ready and willing, if not always able without some external stimulant!

As the veterans of the sexual revolution head toward retirement, their golden years appear to be getting even hotter. Carol McConnell, 63, single after her husband of 18 years passed away and living in Ontario, approached dating with some trepidation. “At first I tried the seniors' dances. They're meat markets." On the website Wired Seniors, she met several older men, including an 83-year-old who sent her $1,000 to cover the cost of a visit to California and a 70-year-old from Canada. Both men used Viagra, although with limited success.

Eventually, she met a 69-year-old male for occasional romantic trysts. But she enjoys staying single and having the freedom to date around.

“Today's seniors are meeting their sometimes medically enhanced later years with a more liberated mindset, with access to multiple partners through the internet and with more movies and books that depict their sexual adventures.” From Suddenly Senior, a daily e-zine for anyone who feels that they have become senior before their time:

Saga Zone (UK) and Wired Seniors (USA and Canada), two popular online social communities for the over 50s. and

12 May 2008

Body gossip

“Everyday I wake up and I tell myself, don’t eat anything today”

It’s not fair that this 12-year old girl thinks that she is so fat that she wants to starve herself. I’m Ruth Rogers. I think that the beauty battle has gone too far. Every day men, women and now children worry about how they look. So I’ve decided to do something about it. I want to give everyone in the UK the chance to shout louder than the media for once. I’m launching a national writing competition. I want stories about real bodies from real people. The twenty best will be performed by a cast of celebrities on a West End stage. It could be the most worthwhile theatre event this year. But organising it isn’t going to be easy!

Body Gossip is a call to arms for people in the UK to celebrate their realistic natural beauty.
Whether it's man boobs, muffin tops or cellulite. Growing old, grey or saggy. Media pressure, peer pressure, negative beauty icons or airbrushed magazine images. Size 0, size 20 and everything inbetween. Whether you're male or female, aged 10 or 110: if you have something to say about body image, Body Gossip wants to hear your stories.

Your personal story could inspire, encourage and reassure others. It could change their world – and your world too.

Your story can either be in the form of a theatrical monologue (a character speaking to the audience), or a duologue (two characters speaking to each other). The style of each piece is up to the writer. If you decide to submit a story, it should be no more than five minutes in length.

If your story is one of the 20 that is chosen to be performed, you will receive full writing credits, VIP tickets for the performance, return travel to and from London and 5 star accommodation and an invitation to a glitzy after-show party. Once at the event, you'll be treated like a star – you'll meet the celebrity performing your story and will take a bow with them onstage in recognition of your contribution to the evening.

Besides the competition, there is a Body Gossip Sofa. This is taken to events such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and London Alternative Fashion Week. People are invited to sit on the sofa and write a sentence about how they feel about their body. There are five sofas so far (actually, just one sofa with five sets of covers). The sofas will form part of the stage set when the Body Gossip performance is staged. After everything has ended, the sofas will be auctioned with proceeds going to an eating disorder charity.

Submit your own entry to the competition. Find out where the sofa is going next, go there and write your own message on the cover.