In the "Indian Summer" of their lives, more Americans between 50 and 75 are working well into years that used to be exclusively for the retired. Should we cheer them?
Marion Jackson's airy, light-filled studio is filled with Brazilian art and sculpture. It sits on the third floor of a five-story, 100,000-square-foot industrial building in downtown Detroit that opened in 1927 to house the service department for Pontiac. The Corvette was later designed there. But that was before the U.S. auto industry declined, and the neighborhood became a wasteland of abandoned buildings.
Not anymore. Today, 250 start-up companies inhabit the renovated building, which is the centerpiece of a business incubator called TechTown. Jackson's venture, Con/Vida--in Spanish, "with life"--sells indigenous art from Latin America and curates exhibitions for galleries and museums. Jackson, 70, retired as an art-history professor at Detroit's Wayne State University last year and applied her knowledge of northeastern Brazil to the pursuit of a second career as Con/Vida's codirector.
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This new chapter in Jackson's work life, much like the building the studio inhabits, amounts to a kind of adaptive reuse--of skills instead of space. In this, she has company. TechTown is run by Randal Charlton, a 71-year-old former jazz impresario and serial entrepreneur, whose human-tissue company was the resurrected building's first tenant. TechTown, an independent nonprofit, was launched a decade ago by Wayne State--which recently hired 77-year-old Allan Gilmour, a former Ford Motor chief financial officer, as its president.