“A Town Free of Ageism”

by Hal Gray

GREENSBORO – Greensboro is described in a recent book as “A Town Free of Ageism.” Yale professor Dr. Becca Levy has earned a reputation through her research on aging, and her 2022 book “Breaking the Age Code” contains interviews with local people that suggest Greensboro is free of ageism, a form of prejudice that can have harmful effects: how we think about aging impacts our health positively and negatively.

In this regard, Levy cites a study indicating that participants with positive age beliefs lived an average 7.5 years longer than those with negative age beliefs. A Wall Street Journal review of Levy’s book posed a rare cautionary note with its comment “She makes a compelling case against doctors who ‘dismiss treatable conditions as standard features of old age,’ but readers who are less inclined to point the finger at ‘corporate greed’ may feel her political analysis is on shakier ground.”

Levy’s observations regarding Greensboro focuses on interviews of Nancy Riege, Nancy Hill, Carol Fairbank, Kathryn Lovinsky, this journalist, a realtor identified only as “Judy” and a little teenage clown named “Mike.” Dr. Levy’s research has led her to describe Greensboro as “a thriving culture of positive age beliefs” where people look out for each other. Levy describes “WonderArts” (misnamed “Rural ARTS”) and “Spark” as inspiring creativity among people of all ages. The Greensboro Ladies Walking Society is as much about socializing as about walking, but it’s also about being involved. Greensboro’s Circus Smirkus is identified as “the only traveling youth circus in the U.S.” There are also several eating groups of mostly retired men who discuss national and world events, but also participate actively in the governance and community life of the town.

Lest anyone feel left out or misquoted, Levy notes she has merged the interviews “In order to convey a sense of the interconnectedness that is a prominent feature of the town…”

[“Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long & Well You Live” by Becca Levy (2022) William Morrow]