The event started as what founder Ann Voorhees Baker describes as a “self-propelling good idea,” which grew out of a croning party she threw for herself when she turned 50 almost a decade ago. Her desire to repeat the event on a larger, national scale kept springing up in conversations with other boomers, which led to amped-up brainstorming sessions, follow-up calls, emails, recommendations, and introductions. Within two weeks of booking the Emerson, Baker secured commitments from an impressive lineup of speakers and workshop leaders: In addition to Levine, they include Amy Ferris, screenwriter and author of Marrying George Clooney; Alice Barden, an actress and playwright who will perform Alice and Elizabeth’s One Woman Show on the opening night; Barbara Hannah Grufferman, author of The Best of Everything After 50; Jody Feagan, founder of the San Miguel Literary Festival; a supermodel who started her career at age 49, an Episcopal priest, business leaders, love & relationship counselors, social media experts, and more.
The Women At Woodstock retreat just may be the harbinger of things to come for women of the baby boom era, who regularly demonstrate a strong communal desire to communicate and support one another in their quest for self-determination and empowerment. Witness a recent discussion posted on the LinkedIn group “Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi.” Rebecca posted, “Laid off after over 20 years in marketing. Looking to reinvent myself at 52. How and what are others doing?” Comments exploded; over 400 in the first week and over 550 within a month; the count is now over 600 and the conversation is still going.
So maybe 50 isn’t the new 40, or even the new 30, but rather the new 18; when feminists and flower children from earlier days are turning a major corner in their lives, feeling new freedoms and seeking to make a big difference once again. As Baker wrote in her blog on the Women At Woodstock website, “This is an exciting time of decision making, not to be ignored or wasted; much like when we as young women left home and headed off to college. It’s time to declare a new major.”