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FIVE SOCIAL INNOVATORS OVER AGE 60 WIN PURPOSE PRIZE: In September, Civic Ventures ( announced the winners of its $100,000 Purpose Prize. The prize is awarded annually to Americans over 60 who make significant contributions to the quality of life in their communities. Ten $10,000 winners were also selected. The Purpose prize is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and The John Templeton Foundation.

Among this year’s $100,000 prize winners is Gordon Johnson, 74, who founded Neighbor to Family to keep siblings together in foster care. The group also helps parents learn the skills they need to get their children back. Another prize winner is Sharon Rohrbach, 64, founder of the Nurses for Newborns Foundation. Nurses provide home visits for mothers, whose social, personal or health status may put their infants at risk.


EXPERIENCE IS NOT ON SIDE OF OLDER WORKERS: Despite warnings of severe labour shortages, older workers face an uphill battle when it comes to rejoining the workforce, Canadian researchers report.

Forget the experience you have built up over the years. Older applicants are told they are "over-qualified" or "too experienced". When they fail to get the job, they are told someone more "junior" was hired or that the organization was too "fast-paced" for them.

The challenge is even tougher for older women, who are forced to compete with younger women. As one 45-year-old woman put it, "They want young attractive women, not women who are 45, 50 or older." When one 50-year-old woman asked her former boss for a raise, she was told, "Well, I can have 50 young girls sitting here looking pretty and I can pay them whatever I want," he said.

Julie Ann McMullin and Ellie Berger report their findings in Age Matters (Routledge, 2006).


CONCERN FOR COMMON GOOD SPARKS WORLDWIDE MOVEMENT: Imagine young and old gathered in schoolrooms, farms, villages, slums and deserts worldwide. They share three common goals: to restore the environment, prevent the loss of indigenous cultures and foster social justice.

This movement has no name and no leader. This is not a problem for best-selling author Paul Hawken, who has mapped the movement’s astounding evolution in Blessed Unrest (Penguin, 2007).

In the book, Hawken describes over one million nonprofit organizations working towards social justice and ecological sustainability. That adds up to over two million people in 243 countries.

"This movement is a new form of community and a new form of story. This is the story of what’s going right in this world," Hawken writes.

To find out more, visit WiserEarth.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to our readers who’ve written with your thoughts. We always look forward to receiving your ideas and feedback. R.D.