“Who Knows Only His Own Generation Remains Always a Child.”

June 14, 2022

“Who Knows Only His Own Generation Remains Always a Child.”

May 29, 2023

Inscribed over the University of Colorado Library entrance is this quote by Dr. George Norlin, former president of the University. It’s an etched-in-stone reminder that the power of cross-generational connection and collaboration could genuinely improve the world.

The Main Library at University of Colorado, Boulder

Our friend Marc Freedman, CEO of Encore.org, wrote in a recent Boston Globe Op-Ed that pop culture has gotten the memo. He cites the success of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in music, and TV shows like “Hacks,” “Only Murders in the Building,” and “Lupin,” or podcasts like “70 Over 70”—all evidence that the cultural wave is starting to form.

He also cites new research from the Stanford Center on Longevity, which shows that America in 2022 “is arguably one of the most age-diverse societies we’ve ever known. A quarter of the population today is under 20, a quarter is over 60, and the remaining half are in between. For the first time, there are roughly the same number of people at every age, from birth to 70. But this timely shift in the zeitgeist brings with it a challenge: Can we realize on the ground what’s taking shape in the air? For much of the past century, our limiting cultural tropes about aging and generational relations have been mirrored by the abject age segregation of society: arrangements that cluster young people in schools, middle-aged people in workplaces, and older people in retirement communities, senior centers, and nursing homes.”

Of course, Marc ends on a positive note, which is what I’m feeling after having just finished co-leading the “Intergenerational Wisdom” workshop as a Boomer with a GenXer (Jeff Hamaoui) and two Millennials (Charlotte Japp and Nim de Swardt) as my co-leads. One of my favorite moments of the workshop was when we asked the question:

“Beyond your family, think of the five people you might consider in your inner circle based on your relationship and trust with them. Write down their names and their ages.”

Once people have made their list, we asked them to determine how many of the 5 are at least ten years older or younger than you. Often, we find that 80% of our confidantes are our age-contemporaries (less than ten years older or younger than us), and it helps us realize that we need to broaden our web of relationships.

How would you answer that question? Stay tuned for a big announcement this summer regarding a global program we’ll be launching dedicated to connecting the generations.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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