Exceeding Expectations Storytelling Project

Sunday, January 31, 2016

For the past 12 months, a team of reporters and photographers has been following 20 New Yorkers as they navigate their 80s. 

Exceeding Expectations is a project of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. It is led by Dorian Block, a journalist, and Ruth Finkelstein, an anthropologist and health policy expert. It is funded by the New York Community Trust.

Every week, Exceeding Expectations  will introduce the story of a new person to their readers. In 2015, they searched far and wide for 20 New Yorkers from all different circumstances and backgrounds who have both exceeded life expectancy and who are disrupting commonly-held expectations of what it means to grow old. You will meet a woman who cares for her 1-year-old great-granchild, a man who was in prison for 30+ years and is trying to make up for lost time and an optometrist who has retired four times but keeps returning to work. 

The project, through writing, photography and video, explores how people find purpose in later life and how their environment and circumstances make it easier or more challenging to do so. Their stories are filled with mystery, drama, wisdom and search for meaning.


One year. One city. 20 lives. Follow along.