Where do you think it's best to plant a young tree: a clearing in an old-growth forest or an open field?
Ecologists have found a young tree grows better when it's planted in an area with older trees. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground. It's through this powerful dynamic between younger and older trees that an entire ecosystem is transformed. Trees communicate with one another, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones so that the whole forest becomes healthier.
That's the power of the 7-Generation work – transformative intergenerational connections for systems change.
What if we can empower generations to change each other's lives, their community, and even the world?
The international Earth Charter begins with a sense of urgency: "We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future… It is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations… Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more… Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals… Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world… Every individual, family, organization, and community has a vital role to play."
That means you – Young and Old United in 1 world with more than 7 billion people across 7 generations (YOU 177).
The Legacy Project's 7-Generation work draws on an Indigenous concept of long-term thinking across seven generations while at the same time reflects the modern context of a historic demographic shift to more living generations. Children born today are likely to personally know seven generations in their family and/or community: their own generation; three before them – their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents; and three after them – their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. There is both comfort and power in this ability to connect more generations than ever before.
Susan V. Bosak is a researcher and educator, and Founder of the Legacy Project. Take a look at her TEDx Talk on Building a