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 has been working with Axiom News for more than 10 years where she says she’s had an abundance of opportunity to try new things, bring her gifts to the table, connect with a host of incredible people worldwide and, perhaps most importantly, construct a whole new window out of which to see the world. “Working at Axiom News, I get to join in cultivating an emerging world story that I believe holds some of the greatest promise for the future of this planet,” says Michelle. “Threading through this alternative story are themes such as evolving from empire to deep democracy, from blaming and complaining to ownership and from problem solving to possibility-oriented thinking.” A question Michelle says she’s holding in tension for 2014 is: What place is there for news media in creating a space for people to act on what matters most?
For more than 13 years Axiom News has been able to interview and story many cutting-edge workplaces while at the same time trying out some of the ideas we run across in our own space. We’ve been especially interested in people who are playing around with creating an ecology for work that, at the risk of over-simplifying, “embraces our humanity.”
A fitful journey at Axiom News this past year has created just the sort of anxiety-ridden conditions for provoking new revelations. One of the most recent for me was that these could be some of the most exciting and painful times for knowledge workers yet.
In a recent video interview with the Canadian collaborative, Social Innovation Generation, John McKnight tells the story of the origins of asset-based community development and how it emerged out of his anger at the predominant research then being conducted on neighbourhoods, especially low-income neighbourhoods.
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