Where do you think it's best to plant a young tree: an open field or near old-growth forest? This is both an ecological question and a social metaphor.
The 7-Generation glocal (local into global) initiative is the heart of the Legacy Project's work.
The 7-Generation initiative is about people and place – social regeneration (generations in community) and ecological regeneration (community in bioregion). It interconnects across seven broad themes: environment and climate change, economy, community, health, education and lifelong learning, life course and aging, Indigenous worldviews and knowledge. We're working toward ecopsychosocial wellbeing – ecological integrity, personal wholeness, social coherence – in the context of lifetimes across generations.
The blunt fact is that we're in a polycrisis – converging climate, environmental, economic, political, technological, social, health crises. We can't stay in an isolated room at a white board using a simplistic, straight-line problem/solution mindset and ignore the messy, complex reality just outside the door. From the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019): "We require transformative change – a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals, and values."
Says Thomas Homer-Dixon in Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril: "Anyone who grasps the severity of humanity's predicament and tries to figure out how we might respond with something like a new organization, technology, or social movement to make things better – not just for ourselves narrowly, but for all of humanity – confronts an unforgiving conundrum, which I've come to call the enough vs. feasible dilemma. On one hand, changes that would be enough to make a real difference – that would genuinely reduce the danger humanity faces if they were implemented – don't appear to be feasible, in the sense that our societies aren't likely to implement them, because of existing political, economic, social, or technological roadblocks. On the other hand, changes that do currently appear feasible won't be enough."
To face enough vs. feasible head on – in a way that meets the polycrisis at a reasonable scale, puts life at the center of every action and decision, and gives people a chance to navigate through – we need social collaboration, especially across generations, in bioregions scale-linked into planetary processes. In other words, we need to hold each other's hand and start where we are – in our place.
The photo at the top of this page is of a White Pine tree, over 120 years old, in the Greater Tkaronto (Toronto) Bioregion (GTB).
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, and the whole forest becomes healthier.
Looking at humans, anthropologist Margaret Mead asserted that "connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of nations." In some Indigenous cultures there's an understanding that, if you want to get something done, you bring together a "fired-up youth with a feisty granny." Young and old together can become a formidable force. This is a vital human connection for healthy psychosocial development and ecocultural wisdom.
Intergenerational connections are the seed from which the 7-Generation work grows.
The 7-Generation work draws on an Indigenous concept of holistic, long-term thinking across seven generations while at the same time reflects the modern context of a historic demographic shift to more living generations. For the first time ever, you are likely to personally know seven generations in your family and/or community: your own generation; three before you (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents); and three after you (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren). There is comfort, insight, and power in this ability to connect more generations than ever before.
Susan V. Bosak is a researcher, educator, and Founder of the Legacy Project.
Take a look at her TEDx Talk on Building a 7-Generation World…
The 7-Generation work takes root in a place – specifically, your "bioregion."
Bioregions are holistic landscapes broadly defined by geographic features, ecological flows, culture, Indigenous history. Drawing on earth systems science, abioregion is the smallest actionable scale reflecting bigger planetary processes. Understanding how what you do on your plot of land, wherever you find yourself, connects into the bioregion and ultimately into the planet gives everything more meaningful long-term impact.
Based on research analysis, a fractally scale-linked network of activated bioregions of at least 500,000 ha reaching a critical mass of 1,000 landscapes, could, cumulatively, help regenerate the entire Earth. The bioregion is the difference that can make a difference.
We're working in the Greater Tkaronto Bioregion (GTB). We draw on the seminal 1992 Regeneration report by The Honourable David Crombie, former Toronto Mayor and MP. From the report, the GTB is "bounded by the Niagara Escarpment on the west, the Oak Ridges Moraine to the north (along with Lake Simcoe) and east, and Lake Ontario to the south."
The GTB is now part of the first North American cohort of a new global Bioregional Network.
Work on 7-Generation GTB happens in the larger context of YOU 177, a multilayered descriptor. YOU refers to empowering individuals, of all ages. This photo is of a gift given to the GTB from the Cascadia bioregion in British Columbia. The handcrafted bowl is called Transforming Eagle, by Indigenous artist Ryan Cranmer. Eagles represent the "power within you, within each of us, to change ourselves and the world around us." YOU is also an acronym for Young and Old United, emphasizing the power in bringing generations together. The numbers stand for 1 Bioregion/1 World, with a threshold global population of over 7 Billion People across 7 Generations. YOU 177.
So, the 7-Generation initiative is very much about systems complexity across contexts, levels, and silos. It looks at people and place while asking a big question: What's y/our legacy at this pivotal moment in human history? Social and ecological regeneration is legacy action. It's where we find our power. We must figure out how we want to live – going forward with each other in our place on this planet in this uncertain time. #ChangeTheStory
We're creating a 7-Generation narrative, starting in the "place" of the Greater Tkaronto Bioregion (GTB) – 1.25 million hectares with approx 8 million people. Learn more about the bioregional approach and the action strategy underlying the 7-Generation GTB work.
Stay up-to-date with insights and explorations in our Table Talk blog, with Legacy Project Founder Susan V. Bosak and guest authors. It's inspired by the handcrafted Legacy Table at The Cedars, a place to discuss the big stuff. We gather to connect and share, learn and create, challenge and reflect.
This selection of videos will help you learn more about 7-Generation GTB. Several feature global bioregional regeneration leader Joe Brewer and the presentations he gave in the GTB. Others offer an overview of the initiative and local context, including Land Back.
Check out upcoming events and workshops in-person and online, including 7-Generation GTB Meetups. This is an opportunity to be challenged and surprised, to connect with others locally and around the world, and help create a story of change. What matters? How can we make sense together?
The Legacy Project offers dozens of free online activities and guides, many helping bring generations together to learn from and with each other. The award-winning Dream book invites all ages into the 7-Generation GTB work – because you're never too young or too old to dream.
In uncertain times, how can we (re)learn how to live in our place? A 7-Generation GTB Bioregional Learning Center will bring together the best of Western science and Indigenous knowledge. As a start, we're weaving together existing programs and field sites for new regenerative experiences.
BE AN ELDER
At 86, iconic Canadian scientist and broadcaster David Suzuki calls on older adults to "be an elder" – to rise into the meaningful role of support and stewardship for both younger generations and the planet. We all need to see ourselves as elders-in-training. Discover resources and opportunities.
LISTEN TO A LIFE CONTEST
Start connecting generations in your family, school, or community through the annual Listen to a Life Story Contest. It opens dialogue and changes lives. The contest is open to young people 8-18 years, who interview a grandparent or grandfriend 50 years or older to write a 300-word story.
As we need to heal ourselves and the planet, what if your life story could help? In fact it does, in little ways every day. Start connecting your story to a bigger story. Legacy Links is our new life review process. It's a journey of self-discovery and reflection, a way to share the most important parts of yourself.
The living root bridges in India are an outstanding example of a complex, deeply regenerative, intergenerational, cultural-natural system. They have long been an exemplar for our Legacy Projects. Explore meaningful, strategic actions you can take locally to make a difference globally.