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Living Root Bridges as exemplars of Legacy Projects, image © Aliaksandr Mazurkevich | Dreamstime.com


The living root bridges in the state of Meghalaya in northeast India are an outstanding example of a complex, intergenerational, cultural-natural system. They've long been an exemplar for 7-Generation Legacy Projects. The bridges are created in harmony with nature with a deep understanding of place, are essential to the local communities, depend on skills passed down across generations, and center a respect for life through both social and ecological stewardship and regeneration.
Regenerate Earth
The 7-Generation work is about people and place – social regeneration (generations in community) and ecological regeneration (community in bioregion). We're helping bring together generations to take meaningful, strategic action in their place, specifically their bioregion, in the big-picture context of lifetimes across generations.

Legacy Projects, co-created by two or more generations, are the meaning-making bridge toward a new way of being and doing on the planet. We can #ChangeTheStory.

Three Guiding Questions Legacy Projects are as varied, creative, and powerful as the more than 7 billion people on this planet. Take whoever you are and make it bigger, more meaningful – your life story in the context of all lives/life on this planet in the even bigger context of lifetimes across generations.

It all starts with mutual learning and some big-picture thinking.

Through a variety of exciting and unique experiences, the 7-Generation initiative supports generations in coming together to get to know each other, learning from and with each other.

Three Big Questions guide the intergenerational exploration:

What does it mean to be human? This question explores the value, meaning, purpose of an individual life and life in general. It's an especially interesting question at this moment in history when human beings have affected the planet so significantly. Says Graham Saul, part of our Group of Seven, "Humanity's relationship to the world has fundamentally changed over the past 75 years. What's changed is we've moved from having an impact on a portion of the world at any given moment, to having an impact on the entire world. For the first time in history, we became a force that was really able to shape and change the world as a whole. And simultaneously, we began to learn about that world."

How can we think like a planet? This question moves us from "me" to "we," from the individual to the community. To navigate through our predicament, we need each other in community and we need to take collective action in our bioregion – the smallest scale reflecting planetary processes. We also need to see ourselves as a part of all living things. Says Carol Campbell, part of our Group of Seven, "A lot of our schooling systems are built on survival of the fittest… It's the basis of an ego system, all about the individual and the ego of that person. My hope would be to shift from ego to eco-system. To learning how to really connect with each other, the interdependence piece of community."

What's y/our legacy? Individually and collectively, we all have the power to make lasting, meaningful impact over the long term. "Now" isn't just this moment; we need to start thinking in terms of the interconnection of time in a "long now" because today is yesterday's tomorrow. How will we use this power? It comes down to all the little ways, every day, that we help shape a world that's more cruel or kind, competitive or collaborative, destructive or respectful. Legacy is the future our actions create. Says Peter Whitehouse, part of our Group of Seven, "One of the things that defines us as human beings is that we look for purpose. We have the ability to see ourselves aging and recognize that we're going to die. We can also recognize that our purpose can continue beyond our own death. That's legacy. What I would like my legacy – and our legacy as a species – to be is that we worked hard together, and had a little fun along the way, in order to try to achieve something better."

The three Big Questions interconnect your life story (Q1) with a bigger story (Q2) across time (Q3).

As they explore these questions together, young and old become Citizen HJPs (historian-journalist-philosophers) to connect past, present, and future across seven broad themes: environment/climate change, economy, education and lifelong learning, health, community, life course and aging, Indigenous worldviews/knowledge.

Then all this good thinking is mobilized into action as young and old co-create Legacy Projects.

Action isn't individual or isolated, but is about meaningful, lasting impact that can interconnect and multiply over time.

Legacy Projects are intentional yet highly flexible activities. Drawing on extensive social science research, a Legacy Project is about changing the way we think and act to make a difference in our own life, in our community, and in our world. It's about regeneration in the big-picture context of lifetimes across generations. The three dimensions of a Legacy Project are North Star Worth, Intergenerativity, and Eco-Connection.

North Star Worth A Legacy Project is about something timely and timeless that has North Star Worth. Is it regenerative, does it center and affirm life? It should matter to you, and matter in your community and the world over the long term. It represents the gift of legacy each person, each group, each community can create. You have to consciously identify and articulate North Star Worth – and that's an important part of the value of a Legacy Project. How often do you take the time to think about what really matters and why it matters? This kind of thoughtful discussion is critical as we wrestle with how the world got to where we are, a vision for the future, and pathways to get there. 

Intergenerativity A Legacy Project involves two or more generations, an intergenerational action team. It's about collaboration and Prosocial Principles. Legacy Projects take advantage of what Dr. Peter Whitehouse has termed Intergenerativity. Intergenerativity is the big-picture, innovative spark that can happen when you bring together the perspectives of different generations. It's also about going between (issues, silos, ideas) to go beyond, including connecting science and the humanities. Through Intergenerativity we can expand our understanding of time and internalize the bigger flow of life as we build on what has come before and contribute to what comes after us.

Eco-Connection Everything is interconnected – including the past, present, and future. From physicist Lawrence M. Krauss: "Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics – we are all stardust. We are all connected to each other and the universe in the most basic way." So Legacy Projects must consciously make an Eco-Connection. It's interesting that "economy" and "ecology" share a common etymological root. Why is it that in a modern context they point to perspectives that rarely seem to connect? Especially as we grapple with big challenges like climate change, we must act in a way that recognizes everything we do is connected to the world around us, what we truly value (people and planet), and the value we take out and put in. In Legacy Projects, we encourage people to connect to the land and include a tree, either literally or figuratively, as a symbol of eco-connection. The tree, from the Tree of Life to family trees and everything inbetween, is one of the most-used symbols in cultures around the world.

Interconnective, bigger thinking and action are rare and difficult in today's world. The Legacy Projects that are part of the 7-Generation initiative create the time and space for it to happen. #ChangeTheStory

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