At over 4.5 billion years old, composed mostly of rock and
with 70% of its surface covered with water, it has a diameter of 12,756 km (7,926 miles), one moon, one sun, a current population of
7 billion people
and growing, 7 continents, and
194 countries. That's our world.
Our World is also one of the Legacy Project's three banner programs, along with LifeDreams and Across Generations.
LegacyCubed is a powerful life tool for all ages and a catalyst for social change. There are three levels to evolving your legacy through your life: personal, interpersonal, and community (Our World).
Our World explores the world around us and our role in it, looking at how
each of us can help change the world to address issues like building stronger communities and caring for the environment. How can you think globally and act locally? How can we all live more sustainably with our environment? How can we build stronger communities that take into consideration changing demographics and the needs of all generations? How can we better understand other people and cultures that live in our communities or a continent or more away from us?
One of the resources that supports the Our World program is the classic activity book Science Is.... The result of eight years of research, including classroom testing, Science Is... has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The book is filled with more than 450 activity ideas, attention-getters, experiments, projects, puzzles, games, and stories. It covers all areas of science and emphasizes exploring our world through subject areas like The Environment, Rocks, Plants, and Living Creatures. It can be used with all ages.
With its themes of dreams and goals for ourselves and our world, the award-winning Dream book also supports the Our World program.
We're developing new books for the Our World program, some inspired by the arboretum and environmental research at the Legacy Center. TreeKeepers takes the big, topical issue of the environment and connects it to young people in a meaningful way across the curriculum. We also have free online activities and guides available, and we'll be adding more.
The environment poses the quintessential intergenerational challenge. Global warming, destruction of rain forests, contamination of fresh and coastal waters, and depletion of the ozone layer all threaten the future of our planet. Many adults are deeply concerned about the environmental quality of the world their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will inherit. Today's young people are also more aware of environmental issues than any other generation before them – and eager to learn more and take action.
In the words of Adlai Stevenson:
We travel together as passengers on a little spaceship – spaceship Earth – dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and the love we give our fragile craft.
Which brings us to another global challenge. Our planet has been around for billions of years. It was only about 50 years ago though that we saw Earth as a whole, photographed for the first time from space. It was a tiny globe surrounded by darkness. The photographs emphasize just how small this planet is. Today, there are 7 billion human beings walking its surface. As our world becomes increasingly interdependent, it is becoming even smaller. More and more people bump into each other more and more often.
In centuries past, if you didn't like what was happening in one corner of the globe, you could pack up, move to a large uninhabited area, and start a new country. No more. There are few large, uninhabited areas left. And we are all interconnected in ways we have never been before in history.
We all have a responsibility – to ourselves and to our children and grandchildren – to do more than we are doing in this world to resolve conflicts in a way that is constructive rather than destructive. No more critical legacy challenge faces us than how we can learn to live together and deal constructively with what can far too easily become violence that leads to more violence too horrible to even dare to imagine.
From an anthropological perspective, the human beings alive today are descended from the same small group of people, our common grandmothers and grandfathers, who lived thousands and thousands of years ago. At the same time, anthropologists have identified more than fifteen thousand distinct ethnic groups on the planet. Our challenge is to recognize our common humanity while making allowances for these differences. In the spirit of acting locally, one of the places we can start is in our communities, specifically in our schools. And so a Safe Schools activity set is part of the Our World program.
There's also a profound demographic shift taking place. Since 1960, the percentage of the population under 5 years of age has steadily decreased, while the percentage of adults 65 years and older has sharply increased. For the first time in history, and probably the rest of human history, people 65 years and older will outnumber children under age 5.
By the year 2030, 1 in every 5 Americans will be over 65. This creates the potential for rich intergenerational connections across seven or more generations: your own generation, three generations before you – parents, grandparents, great-grandparents – and three generations after you – children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The change in the generational landscape brings with it both challenges and opportunities. The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Legacy Project have partnered to create a model for Legacy Community Building. The ultimate goal is a city that recognizes, respects, and meets the needs of all ages and brings generations together in support of each other. The Legacy Community Building approach takes into consideration needs across a person's lifetime, needs between generations, and even global needs like the environment.
As human beings, we have incredible potential. Legacy Community Building is based on the hope that we can tap into that potential. It doesn't offer an easy or quick solution. It is an ongoing process of learning for young and old. We are born with an urge to play and create, to be curious and inventive, to experiment and explore. Our education either affirms these tendencies or smothers them. Education – in the broadest sense of the term – is central to community building and a peaceful world. Said Maria Montessori, "Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education." Education means listening, asking questions, and seeking to understand the nature of a problem. It means looking at the problem from your own perspective as well as the perspectives of others. It means learning skills and using them creatively, balancing a concern for yourself with a concern for the larger community. It means building on the past while finding new ways for people to live together peacefully in an increasingly shrinking world that also needs our care and protection.
Start your Our World journey: