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Creative Aging Superstars – Rick Young

Every once in awhile, you meet a person who opens his or her heart so others can understand and learn. I observed this with Rick Young in London Ontario. After Rick retired from full-time teaching, he started a high quality arts and entertainment magazine in the community. After many ups and downs, Rick offered some reflections about his personal journey and offered some thoughts about Creative Aging. Here is the transcript of the full interview:

Q – What did you do during your primary working years?

Rick Young – after leaving high school in 1970, I played in several local bands. After attending one year of a Broadcast Journalism program at Fanshawe College, I got a job as a newspaper reporter/advertising sales rep at a small town newspaper. After a couple of years, I decided to go to university as a Mature Student. Four and a half years later I graduated with an Honours BA in History and Politics and a Bachelor of Education in 1978

My first teaching job was at GA Wheable Secondary School, my old high school, where I taught History, English, Geography and just about everything else under the sun. I would go on to hold teaching positions at 3 other schools in London Ontario.

I retired from teaching in 2008.

Q – When did you start writing/publishing?

Rick Young – as I noted above, I was a daily newspaper reporter for a couple of years. While teaching, I contributed to various scholarly journals and co-authored two high school Canadian History textbooks.

Q – When did you start your wordsmith/publishing business?

Rick Young – upon my retirement from teaching in 2008, I began doing freelance writing for a local arts magazine called ArtScape and the former Scene Magazine.

When the publisher of ArtScape left town owing his creditors and freelance contributors thousands of dollars, a group of ArtScape writers had coffee to discuss the situation. During the meeting the idea of beginning our own, new independent arts magazine was bantered around. I think it was me who said, “Let’s do it!” I was appointed the new publication’s Publisher and Managing Editor. Six weeks later The Beat Magazine hit the streets on October 1, 2009, while a complimentary website simultaneously hit the Internet.

To say that it was a wild ride would be an understatement! We were all artists and/or former teachers with no business experience – but boy could we put together a great monthly collection of stories about London’s vibrant arts community, which was being relatively ignored by the city’s mainstream media at the time.

Unfortunately, despite its high quality and substantive content, the magazine was never able to attract the kind of paid advertising it needed to stay afloat. We started out as a monthly, then became a bi-monthly and then a quarterly publication to try to stem the flow of red ink.

When it became painfully obvious that The Beat Magazine was never going to turn the corner in terms of local financial support, I pulled the plug with our last print issue in June 2013.

I kept the website running for another year, but online advertising is a mug’s game, so it was taken down in late 2014.

Today, I administer a Facebook page for The Beat Magazine. It is essentially a free event listing for local bands and artists, and I post previews, reviews and related links.

Q – Do you still do freelance writing?

Rick Young – after the demise of The Beat Magazine in 2014, I started writing freelance for various publications in town. I continue to do so today.

Q – Do you set daily/weekly goals, or do you take each day as it comes?

Rick Young – I am an early riser up by 6:00am. Most days, after breakfast, I spend from 8:00am to around 12:00 noon working on any stories or job assignments that are on my plate and posting on my 3 Facebook pages and Personal Blog. That leaves most afternoons for “Me Time” and spending time with my partner, Val Cavalini, and my two granddaughters.

Q – How many hours each week do you work?

Rick Young – it varies from week-to-week, but on average about 25 to 30 hours.

Q – What have been your greatest fears?

Rick Young – dying early. Both of my parents died relatively young at ages 60 and 61. Being left incapacitated by illness is always in the back of my mind, too.

Q – What has been your greatest challenge?

Rick Young – probably going to university as a married Mature Student and playing in local and regional bars until 1:30am six days a week to put myself through school. 

I was raised in a lower working-class family in which post-secondary education was a non-starter. I was never encouraged to pursue my education and I’m sure my parents expected me to begin work as soon as I turned 16.

I was the first member of my family to graduate from university.

Q – What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Rick Young – let me get back to you on that one. Lol!

Q – What are your greatest joys/pleasures?

Rick Young – I could mention any number of things, but these are my favourites – spending time with my partner and my daughter’s family, travelling, enjoying the outdoors, playing my drums and jamming with other like-minded musicians, listening to recorded music, reading a good book, seeing a good live play or concert, watching a good movie that makes me think, and, not least of all, having an animated conversation with good friends.

Q – At this time of life, what do you value most?

Rick Young – waking up every morning with a purpose and being able to enjoy everything that life has to offer. Seriously!

Q – What main points would you like to see listed in your obit? 

Rick Young – I’ll have to get to you on this one. Haven’t given it much thought.

Q – Any life guiding belief or quote you by?

“The biggest risk in life is not taking one.”  I’ve always thought this one-liner sums up my approach to life well.