Blog > Michelle Strutzenberger
The Older and the Younger, Co-creating Futures
My children and I are reading through a book my father wrote about his experiences in several Central American countries. The sense of mission, values and adventure that drove him shines through, stirring our anxieties and longings. I am convinced we will be thinking and acting differently in the days and years to come as a result.
This is a story about one generation’s story shaping the next.
In my role with Axiom News, I and a few like-minded folks, including Rituu B. Nanda from India and Kristin Bodiford from Chicago, have had several conversations since last fall on a mix of related themes — the power of narrative, the power of youth as change agents and the power of connecting such change agents from around the world using tools like journalism, summits and guided conversations shaped by approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry and Community Life Competence.
While one of our first ideas was to create a news platform by and about youth as change agents, we’ve since evolved the notion into telling the stories of different generations co-constructing their future together.
Kristin, an organizational and community consultant with deep experience working with both youth and older adults to co-construct the future for their communities, has proposed we seek stories about intergenerational action — youth-led action, older adult-led action, youth action for older adults and older adults for youth and young children.
To kick off this still loosely defined news platform, we’re considering a four-day online conference, spread over a month, with Appreciative Inquiry principles providing the framework for conversation and presentations each day on the general theme of intergenerational change agency.
Organizations and communities with aligning perspectives and missions include World Café, the Appreciative Inquiry community, Taos Institute, Generations United and Communities for All Ages at Temple University Center for Intergenerational Learning and Constellation. Representatives from several of these have expressed support.
Rituu, who works with communities in India and a host of other countries using a strengths-based community development approach, says she sees a real need for this work.
“I am passionate about this because I believe that everyone has strengths irrespective of age. I think it’s the need in today's society when the gap between the generations is growing. The world is youth-centric and hence, we can lose out on experience and wisdom of older people,” she says.
|Rituu B. Nanda|
I, myself, see tremendous possibilities in adding the tools of journalism and guided conversation to the wisdom, creativity and energy of diverse generations already coming together to make a difference in their communities. Yes, there’s telling stories from one generation to the next, that is crucial to building strength for perseverance and discovering “new” paths forward. But add co-creating a new story together, and the possibilities explode.
As the Temple University Center states on the importance of its work, “In these tough economic times, we need new strategies for meeting the challenges facing individuals of all ages and the communities in which they live. Now more than ever we need to strengthen the interdependence across generations.”
While there is much to be done to hone the vision before we even consider turning it into action, we’re keen to hear how others respond.
— What are your thoughts?
— What could a new forum for news and conversation about intergenerational change agency contribute to our global well-being?
— What’s already in place that might be similar? How could this new forum be different? How would it align with these other efforts?
— What would be needed to make it happen?
— What would your commitment be to this?
You can comment below, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.
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Michelle Strutzenberger has been a Generative Journalist and curator with Axiom News for more than 15 years.
She's most grateful for the incredible people she gets to work with every day at Axiom News, as well as the many other amazing folks she's encountered through this work.
"I have always seen the opportunity to do this work as a gift," she says.
Michelle's writing has also been published by a wide variety of other organizations and publications, including the following:
- Abundant Community, an initiative of authors John McKnight and Peter Block to awaken the power of families and neighbourhoods
- PLAN Institute, a network dedicated to enabling families to create a good life for people with disabilities
-.New Scoop YYC, Calgary's news co-op practicing Generative Journalism
- The Canadian Community Economic Development Network
- Nieuwmakers, a Belgian news agency
- Restore Commons, an initiative of Peter Block and friends
- Academy for Systemic Change
Contact Michelle: 705-741-4421 ext. 27 or michelle(at)axiomnews.com.
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