By Ilia Stambler
Following the tradition set in 2013, on or around October 1 (“The UN International Day of Older Persons”) longevity research activists from around the world organize events and promotions as a part of the “Longevity Day” Campaign. Further events take place throughout the entire month of October forming Longevity Month. All events focus on support of biomedical research into aging to improve healthy longevity for the global population.
Within this tradition, hundreds of events and promotions have been organized by longevity research activists around the world: in 2013 events and promotions were organized in over 30 countries, in 2014 in over 20 countries, in 2015 in over 40 countries (the record), and in 2016 in over 20 countries. This year too, the campaign has been far reaching, with events and promotions confirmed in over 10 countries.
There is still much time to organize more events and promotions to reinforce the campaign and improve its impact on the advancement of the healthy longevity cause. This campaign is a great opportunity to organize an online or live meeting in your area to strengthen the longevity advocacy community or organize a special publication or promotion to increase the awareness of the longevity cause. With a sufficient combined demonstration of support, we will be able to draw the attention and sympathy of the “mainstream” public and decision makers. This article recounts examples of successful past actions to encourage activists to emulate and perhaps improve on them during this year’s campaign and those in years to come.
An exemplary promotion for this year’s “Longevity Month” is the “Tell Us Your Story!” action by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (Lifespan.io). The action will collect personal videos to showcase the longevity advocacy community. It requests people interested and involved in the field tell their story in a video, to “let the world know why you care about research to end the diseases of aging.”
Successful Promotions From Previous Years
In previous years, successful promotions included viral videos, competitions for the best video on longevity promotion, competitions to create longevity research-related text content. Furthermore, video conferences (via Google Hangout) have been conducted throughout the world – from the US through Latin America to India. Special publications and posts in honor of the campaign have been also common.
These kinds of online promotions can be organized quite easily by longevity activists virtually anywhere, with no (or almost no) costs, just with a strong motivation to promote awareness about longevity research.
Another major form of activity is organizing live meetings and conferences. These may require some expenses, often minimal, and sometimes none at all, but regardless organization requires strong motivation and coordination.
The scale of meetings can range from a few friends in a restaurant, to a large-scale conference. This year, conferences and meetings are being held in Israel, Greece, Belgium, Romania, Russia, Nigeria, China, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Cyprus, Italy and more. Indeed, meetings and conferences are probably the most effective means of strengthening the research and advocacy community, and improving dialogue and synergy between interested parties.
Bar Ilan University Longevity Conference
Here in Israel, longevity research activists attempt to combine the various good activism practices that have recommended themselves in the past. Thus, as a part of this year’s “Longevity Month” campaign, a conference will be held on October 15, at Bar Ilan University, including presentations on longevity science by leading Israeli researchers and a prize competition for young longevity research students, with promotions in the media.
The conference is co-organized (notably with very limited funds) by Israeli Longevity Alliance, Vetek (Seniority) Association, American Federation for Aging Research, Longecity, and other longevity advocacy organizations.
The prize competition, even with the very small prizes that we could afford, encouraged strong participation and involvement, with submissions from virtually all the universities in Israel. The conference will be free to attend, yet at registration we have requested participants suggest ideas and activities they can personally undertake to advance healthy longevity research and practice. This has encouraged additional collective thought and involvement. A report about the conference will be published later on.
Longevity Promotion: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Furthermore, during the campaign and the conference, Israeli longevity research advocates will distribute the book: “Longevity Promotion: Multidisciplinary Perspectives”.
Similar materials may be helpful in organizing study groups on longevity science and advocacy, during the campaign and beyond. Study groups are a fairly simple means to build up the community, and can form the basis for more extensive prolongevity research and advocacy projects and organizations. This is what happened here in Israel, where study sessions (seminars) on life extension research by a small group of enthusiasts have been held since about 2005.
As an example of possible study materials, the book “Longevity Promotion: Multidisciplinary Perspectives” considers questions of feasibility, desirability and potential actions to achieve healthy life extension for the entire population. The book considers the multidisciplinary aspects of longevity promotion, from the advocacy, historical, philosophical and scientific perspectives.
The first part on longevity advocacy includes examples of pro-longevity campaigns, outreach materials, frequent debates and policy suggestions. The second part on longevity history includes historical analyses of life-extensionism as a social and intellectual movement. The third part on longevity philosophy surveys the aspirations and arguments for increasing healthy longevity in various philosophical and religious traditions. Finally, the fourth part on longevity science includes brief discussions of some of the scientific issues in life extension research. Many more resources are available online.
These are just a few examples of actions, materials, events and promotions that have proved effective in promoting Longevity Month. I encourage you to organize more events and promotions to strengthen the “Longevity Month” campaign, and to bring the topic of biomedical research into aging and improving healthy longevity to the forefront of public discussion. If you organize or participate in events or promotions for this campaign, or other prolongevity campaigns, please share to encourage others. Together, we can create a strong global impact.