Over 50 and Out of Work uses video to document the stories of older, unemployed Americans. To read more about the project, click here.Read More »
My April column for StayThirsty.com:
For the past year, we have traveled around the country conducting interviews for Over Fifty and Out of Work, a multimedia project that documents the impact of the Great Recession on Boomers.
We use video interviews to illuminate the real lives hidden behind the dismayingly bleak economic story: Older Americans are unemployed at higher rates than they have ever been previously, and they are out of work longer than any other age group. They have also often seen the seen the value of their homes and savings collapse as a result of the housing and financial bubbles. Lastly, when they look for new jobs, they confront the daunting double hurdles of age discrimination and a bias against hiring the unemployed.
Our interviewees are “real people with real stories,” as one of the steelworkers we interviewed in West Virginia said. Recently, we had a reminder how real our interviewees’ lives are and that their life stories do not end when the interview does.
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Chuck Castagnolo, founder of Bridges to Jobs, a volunteer organization, describes the path his life has taken since 2007 when he lost his job in the banking industry:
In September 2007 I found myself “Over 50 and out of Work.” Having been in the management end of the savings and loan/banking business my entire career, I was not sure what to do. The last ten years or so I had been doing real estate loans, and with 20/20 hindsight that was the beginning of the mortgage meltdown that would take our country into this Great Recession. But that was not clear back then.
With that, I started looking for a new job. I got up early in the morning to follow what I had learned and had done in the past when looking for a job. I updated my resume, posted it on the major job boards, and sat back and waited for the phone to ring, which it didn’t. What was happening this time around, however, was a slow paradigm shift in the job market and how to find a job.
The employment rate was rising, more and more people were losing their jobs, and employers were starting to become inundated with resumes they didn’t want and just didn’t have time to read. It started to seem to me the “delete” button on their keyboards was becoming their best friend.
I started attending the local unemployment office professional job search group meetings and was meeting many more people like myself who were running into the same situation – no response to their resumes. Something traumatic was in the works. Our country was changing, and as a result of the Great Recession, a lot of the jobs we formally held were no longer viable positions. Companies were learning to do more with less.
I did all the things I was told needed to be done to get a job. I shortened up my resume from six pages to two and learned how to answer those pesky interview questions; still nothing. That is when it hit me. I would probably never work again; I was too young to lose everything I had spent a career building. What do I do now? Well, I went out to the car and starting screaming. Good thing it was a cold November day and the windows were closed. Had I done that with the windows open I’m sure someone would have called an ambulance and I would have been taken away wearing one of those white jackets with long straps and nice shiny buckles.
It was then I got the idea to start Bridges to Jobs; I got to thinking no one was doing anything to psychologically prepare us for what was to come in what would be a very long job search. What about the grief of losing your job. How do I stand, sit and shake hands properly. What does my internet presence look like and what will employers look for there? What will they find if they do a background check? Who should I use for a reference? And a behavioral interview was what?
So I decided to take my second love of teaching and training and develop a series of seminars to help job seekers through this difficult time and hopefully give them a heads up on their competition by knowing what to do, say and how to act in an interview. That led me to reinvent myself as a trainer, which in turn led me to a job with a local career college helping others who are looking to advance themselves in this tight job market.
So I feel the gist of this writing is to encourage you not give up on yourself. Find a way to think out-of-the-box when it comes to looking for a job. Ask yourself how you can take your experience and skills and apply them in a new direction as that is where you new job will be. Our country has grown and prospered by people finding new ways to do things differently and better. You can be one of those too!
Bridges to JobsRead More »
Welcome to Over 50 and Out of Work! If this is your first visit, you might find this tutorial useful in in navigating the site.
Over 50 and Out of Work is an ongoing multimedia project that uses VIDEO to document the stories and impact of the Great Recession. There are a few different ways you can view the project:
1. The most detailed aspect of the project is the 100 Stories section. There you will find 100 videos of unemployed Americans over 50 telling their stories in video interviews ranging from 3 to 7 minutes. When you visit the page, scroll down to view the photographs and short quotes from each subject. When you’ve picked someone that you want to watch, click on his or her photograph, and you will be taken to a page where the video will automatically play. To narrow down the number of videos on the page, you can use the three filters at the top of the page. These will help you hone in on the videos that are most interesting to you by selecting a certain age range, location, or industry.
Because there are so many videos, and it’s hard to know which ones you might want to watch, we’ve labeled them all with “tags”. Tags are helpful little markers that correspond to the themes that each subject talks about in his or her interview. A good example might be “Age Discrimination” or “Health Insurance”. Here are a few ways you can use the tags:
- One way is to use the search box at the top of the website. Just type in any word or phrase that you’d like to learn about (for example “Unemployment Insurance”) and hit enter (or click on the magnifying glass). Any videos which have been ‘tagged’ with that word or phrase will show up in the results!
- Another way to use tags is to navigate from one video to a similar video. So let’s say you’re already on the page for Rudy Limas (he’s one of our interviewees from Oregon). Below his video is a list of all the tags that we’ve selected as relevant to his video. Click on one of them (for example, Sole Source of Family Support), and you’ll be taken to a list of all the videos on the site that share that tag.
2. To provide some context for the 100 Stories videos, we have also conducted a number of Expert interviews, ranging from economists and professors to politicians and activists. Their videos can be found at the Experts page. Just as with the 100 Stories videos, scroll down the page to see a photo and brief description of each subject. When you’ve picked one that you want to watch, click on his or her photograph and you will be taken to a page where the video will automatically play.
3. On the Documentary page, you will find some videos that we have produced as “Chapters” of a documentary film that is currently in production. Each video focuses on a different theme, issue, or location that we have covered during the course of our project. More videos are added regularly, so be sure to Stay in Touch!
4. Finally, our Blog also houses a collection of different videos. There is a series of videos about Older Entrepreneurs, a series of User-Submitted videos, and others as well. To see these videos, visit the Blog and click on one of the categories in the list on the right-hand side of the page. Each category will provide you with a list of posts that have been tagged with that category. Some are videos, and some are text.
While video is the main component of our site, we also have a Resources page with links to both helpful Organizations as well as Articles and Research about older jobseekers, the Great Recession, and more.
If you’re interested in numbers and statistics related to unemployment and older jobseekers, check out our Data page, with graphs of unemployment rate, unemployment level, and duration of unemployment for workers 50 and up.
The Interact section of the site is a place to leave comments and have a discussion with other viewers about the project and what you have seen here.
If you’d like to learn more about the project, visit our About page.
If you’d like to learn more about us, visit the Team page.
For answers to frequently asked questions, check out the FAQ page.Read More »
Today, older Americans are out of work at record rates and for longer periods of time then ever before. Boomers, who are beginning to turn 65 this year, were born into a postwar era of prosperity and optimism. The Great Recession upset the expectations held by many members of this iconic generation. Today’s unemployed boomers anticipate living longer than prior generations, but are not well prepared to do so. As their needs escalate, government at all levels is cutting back on programs and services to reduce budget deficits, while globalization races ahead.
is an ongoing multimedia project that documents the stories and the impact of the Great Recession on jobless Americans, 50 and older. The stories that boomers tell are not only about the hardships they have faced due to joblessness, but also about their hopes and fears, their expectations and disappointments, their resilience and their dreams. Their individual stories combine into a remarkable mosaic of experiences that captures the past 50 years of seismic social and economic changes in American history. Their lives have been shaped by the Sixties, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the decline of U.S. manufacturing, Reaganomics, corporate mergers and restructuring, outsourcing, 9/11 and globalization.
Boomers, often regarded as self-centered and indulgent, have left a distinct impact on the United States as they have navigated their way through the turbulent social and economic history of the country’s past half century.
Unexpected depths of courage, faith, perseverance and resilience emerge out of the lives of the boomer generation.
Our broader, long-term mission is to help people who are OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK get back into the labor force by improving the cultural perception of older workers and by influencing public policy changes that will make it easier for them to find re-employment.
The team behind OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK starts production this month on a documentary film exploring the themes and conflicts illuminated in the 100 Stories. Focusing specifically on the impact that unemployment has had on the lives of three of our interviewees, the film will present the story of being OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK in a more dramatic framework and make it available to a wider audience. Please stay tuned for more updates and videos as we get underway!
In 2008, Deborah Ramsey, 56, opened Natural Wellness and Spa in Philadelphia, Penn. The spa offers services and products to women and seniors. Deborah was inspired to found her own business after she had suffered through a couple of corporate layoffs. She relied on WORC (Women’s Opportunities Resource Center) to help her become a new business founder.
Deborah emailed these added thoughts about her transformation from an employee to a entrepreneur:
Had I known how great the rewards were that awaited me I would have started my own business a long time ago. Has it been a struggle…? YES INDEED! But so is life. Fear and apprehension held me back until I decided to be in charge of me! I banished fear, apprehension and every other negative thought and emotion to a remote island. When they try to revisit I don’t open that door because I’ve learned to put courage and confident where those negative things were. I believe more firmly now that we were created to eat and live from the work of our own hands.
Anyone who fits the characteristics of the project (Over 50 and Out of Work) is invited to create and submit to us a homemade video telling his or her story to be posted online. Here are some quick guidelines:
• Simple equipment is fine! You can use a Flip video camera, for example.
• Make sure that we can see and hear you clearly.
• Keep the video short. No longer than three minutes.
• Give a brief introduction: Your name, age and what you were doing when you lost your job. Also, how long you’ve been out of work.
• Try to organize your interview around a single theme. For example, focus your answers on a topic such as lack of health insurance or the age discrimination you encounter in job interviews or the satisfactions you get from volunteering during your period of unemployment.
• Remember that potential employers will be able to see your video online! Keep this reality in mind.
• We will decide whether or not we post the videos that are submitted to Over 50 and Out of Work.
For now, just upload your video to a video sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo and send us the link! If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
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SET FOR LIFE is currently airing on public television stations nationally. Please check your local listings (and we have also posted information below).
* * * * *
Set for Life follows three Baby Boomers who struggle to recover from the devastating impact of losing their jobs during the Great Recession.
Boomers came of age during an ear of prosperity, hope and optimism. They grew up confident that their future would be guaranteed if they worked hard and followed the rules.
Their expectations seemed justified until the Great Recession decimated the economy and 15 million Americans lost their jobs. In clips, Baby Boomers, who are now in their fifties and sixties, express their shock and disbelief. The economic downturn shocked them by exposing that the American Dream is no longer guaranteed.
Joe Price, a third-generation steelworker from Weirton, W.V., has been laid off seven times over the course of his 25-year career in the mill, but his most recent two-year layoff, which began in 2009, appears to be permanent.
Deborah Salim from Conway, S.C. worked for 15 years in the records department at a local community college until she lost her job due to government budget cutbacks in 2008.
George Ross, a Vietnam veteran and an information technology project manager from Livermore, Calif., lost his job in 2008. He searched for work until he was notified that his son, Jason, a Marine, had stepped on a buried IED in Afghanistan while on patrol.
The three main characters they suffer financial woes, self-doubt and health concerns during through the daunting job search process that older unemployed workers face today. Thrust by the Great Recession into a quest they never expected to face at the age of 50-plus also opens deeper questions that are relevant for every individual: What defines my self-worth? What is my definition of happiness? Can I reinvent myself? Can I prepare for and accept change?
As the U.S. economy continues to falter, the themes and issues explored in Set for Life remain timely and topical not only for boomers, but for all Americans.
Set for Life won “Best Feature Documentary” at the 2012 Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, the Spring 2013 New Jersey Film Festival and the 2013 Northern California International Film Festival. It is also an official selection of Louisville’s International Film Festival, the New Jersey Film Festival, the Northern California International Film Festival and the Queens World Film Festival.
Click on the link below to buy a copy of the DVD, which costs $14.99 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.
SET FOR LIFE PUBLIC TELEVISION BROADCAST SCHEDULE (in date order)
OPB/Portland - Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 9 at 4 a.m. on OPB Plus Channel.
LPB/Louisiana Statewide - Friday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. on LPB2.
WETA/Washington, DC – Saturday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. on their WETA HD Channel.
KRWG/El Paso – Saturday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m.
UNC-TV/Statewide North Carolina – Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1 a.m. and 10 p.m. on their UNC-MX channel.
WLRN Public Radio and Television/Miami - Thursday, Nov. 14 at 11 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 15 at 5 a.m.
WIPB/Indianapolis - Thursday, Nov. 14 at 10 p.m.
KNPB Public Broadcasting/Reno -Thursday, Nov. 14 at 2pm.
WHYY/Philadelphia - Sunday, Nov. 17 at 12:30 p.m.
WKNO/Memphis - Sunday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. on their KNO2 channel.
KOZJ/Ozarks – Monday, Nov. 18 at 10 p.m.
Lakeland Public Television/Minneapolis - Tuesday, Nov. 19th at 9 p.m.
KUED/Salt Lake City -Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 12 a.m.
WFYI 3/Indianapolis- Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 9 p.m.
Rhode Island PBS - Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.
Rocky Mountain PBS/Denver – Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.
WGVU/Grand Rapids - Sunday, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m.
SCETV/South Carolina’s statewide network – Sunday, Nov. 24 at 5 p.m.
WEDU Public Media/Tampa – Sunday, Nov. 24 at 11pm on their WEDU+ channel as well as Saturday, Nov. 30th at 1 a.m. on WEDU+.
KAKM/Alaska Public Media – Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 10 p.m.
WTVI /Charlotte -Thursday, Nov. 28 at 10 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31 at 3:00 a.m.
OETA/Oklahoma Statewide - Sunday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m.
WSBE/Providence – Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 10 pm on WSBE Learn (also Wed., Dec. 4 at 5 am and Thurs., Dec. 5 at 2 am on WSBE Learn)
WKAR – Public Media from Michigan State University – Wed., Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. on 23.2.
KWSU/Spokane - Sunday, December 8th at 12pm.
KCLS/Los Angeles - Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 1 a.m.
KUEN/Salt Lake City – Thursday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m.
Idaho PTV - Saturday, Dec. 14th at 2 a.m.
Colorado PTV – Saturday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m.
WPTD/ThinkTV (Dayton) - Sunday, Dec.15 at 11 p.m. on WPTD 16. Also, Monday, Dec. 16 at 11 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 4 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 19 at 11 a.m. on Channel 16.2.
KQED/San Francisco – Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. on KQED World
West Virginia PBS – Thursday, Dec.26 at 8 p.m. on WVPBS2
KVCR Public Television and Radio/Los Angeles - Thursday, Dec. 26 at 11 p.m. on 24.3; Friday, Dec. 27 at 4 a.m. and 3 p.m. on 24.3; Saturday, Dec. 28 at 10 p.m. on 24.3, and Sunday, Dec. 29 at 10 p.m. on 24.3
WLIW/New York – Sunday, Dec. 29 at 5:30 p.m
WNIN/Evansville, IN – Monday, Dec. 30 at 9 p.m.
KRCB/San Francisco – Tuesday, Dec. 31st at 9 p.m.
WHUT Howard University Television/Washington DC - Thursday, Jan. 2 at 8 p.m.
WFYI/Indianapolis - Thursday, Jan. 2 at 9 p.m.
WEFS/Orlando – Saturday, Jan. 4 at 10 p.m.
KCTS/Seattle - Thursday, Jan. 2 at 12 p.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 3 a.m.
Thirteen WNET New York - Saturday, Jan. 4 at 1 p.m.
WXEL TV/West Palm Beach, FL - Sunday, Jan. 5 at noon and Monday, Feb. 10 at noon
KLCS/Los Angeles – Monday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m.
WHUT/Washington, DC – Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 10 p.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 2 a.m.
NJTV -Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 10 p.m.
KEDT/Corpus Christi – Thursday, Jan. 9 at 8 pm and Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 11 p.m.
KMBH/Harlington-Weslaco – Thursday, Jan. 16 at 9 p.m.
KCET/Los Angeles – Sunday, Jan. 19 at 9 p.m. on KCET Links
WVIZ/PBS ideastream®/Cleveland – Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. and Monday, Jan. 20 at 5:00 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 5:00 a.m.
Colorado Public Television – Monday, Jan. 20 at 9 pm on 12.1 and Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 12:00 a.m. on 12.1, Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 8:00 p.m. on 12.2, Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 4:00 a.m. on 12.2
KENW/Amarillo – Monday, Jan. 20 at 11 p.m.
KLRN/San Antonio – Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 9 p.m.
Vegas PBS - Thursday, Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. on Jackpot channel and Friday, Jan. 24 at 3 a.m., 8 a.m., and 1 p.m.. on Jackpot
Prairie Public Broadcasting/Fargo – Sunday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m.
WTVP/Peonia-Bloomington – Sunday, Jan. 26 at 11 p.m.
WIPB/Indianapolis – Monday, Jan. 27 at 12:00 a.m.
KEDT/Corpus Christi – Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 11 p.m.
KCPT/Kansas City – Thursday, Jan. 30 at 2:00 a.m. on KCPT2 and Friday, Jan. 31 at 1:00 a.m. on KCPT 2
WTVI/Charlotte – Thursday, Jan. 30 at 10 p.m.
Colorado Public Television/Denver – Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. on Channel 12.2 and Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 4 a.m. on Channel 12.2
Pioneer Public Television/Minneapolis – Thursday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.
West Virginia PBS - Monday, Feb. 17 at 10 pm on main channel
WUSF/Tampa – Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 10 p.m. on WUSF Knowledge
Wednesday, June 5 at 7 p.m.
Monday, May 13 at 9 p.m.
22 East 12th Street@University Place
New York, NY
• Myrtle Beach International Film Festival
Thursday, April 25 at 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 at 4:45 p.m.
4402 23rd Street
Long Island City, NY
• AARP Foundation (private screening)
Thursday, Feb. 21
• Economic Policy Institute, public screening, but please register in advance here.
Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m., followed by screening
1333 H Street, NW, (Wellstone Conference Room)
February 2, 10 and 24 on Comcast channel 195 and broadcast channel 14 KAZV TV.
Saturday, January 26 at 7 p.m.
New Brunswick, NJ
Sunday, December 9 at 3:30 p.m.
39 Front Street
Tuesday, November 27 from 3:30 to 6 p.m.
Screening and Panel Discussion
Saturday, October 7 at 7:00 p.m.
The Galt House
140 North 4th Street
Wednesday, September 26 at 4:50 p.m.
Davis Square, Somerville, MA
• Tuesday, September 25 at 9:55 p.m.
Davis Square, Somerville, MA