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50 Over 50: Stories on Aging Well

50 Over 50

Every year, AARP Minnesota and Pollen’s 50 Over 50 awards allow us to recognize the contributions of Minnesotans over the age of 50. The 250+ honorees we've celebrated to date are shattering stereotypes around aging, but that's only the start of their contributions. Across a variety of sectors and issues, from urban to rural, and from the personal to the systemic, all of these honorees make a positive impact in the lives of those around them. This story series is an opportunity to take a closer look at that impact. In it, we'll explore the contributions and journeys of several honorees, as they navigate the joys of aging, and continue to find ways to make a difference.

Language is more than the words we speak. It informs how we think, how we act, and how we experience the world around us. Hope Flanagan, a 2018 50 Over 50 honoree, has spent much of her career working to preserve the Ojibwe language — and in so doing, preserve the Ojibwe cultural experience. For Hope, aging is part of that work. “In native society,” she says, “the older you get, the more valuable you are.”
“It’s what you do. You help people.” It’s a simple mantra, and one that has guided Gail Chang Bohr throughout her career. As she moved from social worker, to law clerk, to Ramsey County’s first Asian American judge, Gail never lost sight of the human aspect of her work. “It may be the rule of law, but there are people at the end of it.” Now retired, Gail is still keeping people at the center of her work — fighting to create a judiciary system that’s more diverse, and more just.
Beth Parkhill has always sought a life less linear. The AARP 50 Over 50 honoree fell into her first career “by accident,” and since then she’s reinvented herself multiple times. But through it all, she’s wished for a world where everyone feels valued, and where older people are seen as resilient instead of fragile.
At 71, Diego Vazquez Jr. — a foundational piece of the slam poetry scene, a published writer, a visual artist, and lately, a photographer — is making more time for his passions. That means time for himself, time to travel, and time with his family. It’s well-earned time, in particular after dedicating so much to another passion — teaching the Women’s Writing Program in three area correctional facilities.

More stories coming soon!

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