Elders and Youngers in Transition
By Isabel Carlisle 24th March 2013
If you are an older person who has a yearning to be honoured as an Elder, or a young adult who is looking for a life mentor, come and join us at an event on 1 June outside Malvern in Worcestershire. Transition and the Yelders are getting together to host an informal 24-hour facilitated get-together in which we explore the dynamics of collaboration between elders and young people as we navigate the transition into a post-carbon world. (Details of the event are at the bottom of this blog).
I don’t know if anyone is going to remember this, but Honouring the Elders is step 10 of the Twelve Steps of how to start a Transition Initiative. I checked that out by looking at The Transition Handbook and reading about Rob conducting oral history surveys with people who lived through the last world war and getting a sense of how they lived with the concept of “just enough”, were naturally thrifty and were adept at growing their own food.
That made me think of my uncle Sandy, who was a Major in the Grenadier guards and entertained my daughters when they were young by shaking the gunpowder out of a grape shot cartridge onto a plate and inviting them to set light to it. He and my aunt now have an array of solar panels on their garage roof, but as they get into their 80s the vegetable garden is not what it was. They are also brilliant grandparents who have a lot of energy for problem-solving and path-smoothing with young people.
Being older is just one aspect of Eldership, and just how old is entirely up to how you feel. I think that essentially it is about having the life experience and energy to contribute to your community in the role of a valued and wise counsellor, but this question is open for individuals to answer in their own way. As a society, we don’t make much space for that connection between old and young to take place in a healthy and safe way. What would it look like if we did that within Transition? Could we create a network of people doing this in different ways in different places?
When I was designing the One Year in Transition programme for young adults my design team (of eight young adults in their teens and twenties) kept coming back to their wish for mentors rather than teachers. This was despite the fact that most of them had never experienced mentoring or counseling before.
Because of this 1YT (the new programme from Transition Network for young adult change-makers http://www.transitionnetwork.org/support/education/one-year-transition) finds a personal mentor for each participant. Our network of mentors is mainly made up of trained psycho-therapists, counsellors and facilitators who give their time for free, between once a month and once a fortnight for one hour. Now, as we anticipate up to 14 young adults joining the programme this September, we are putting out a call for more mentors and opening up a discussion about mentoring, elders and youngers in Transition.
This is what the design team agreed they would value in a mentor, and we may draw on this for the discussion at our Stroud event:
- Your ability to stand outside the situation, rather than being part of it
- ‘Reliability’: to be there, to keep your part of a contract
- Skill in asking pertinent questions so that we can find our own answers
- Huge capacity to listen without judging
- A holding space in which we can ‘unpack’ what is going on for us
- No attempt to ‘fix’ things or ‘fix’ us
- Tools to help us vision/visualise, or to invoke a shift from a stuck place, to frame things differently
- Help when up against a ‘barrier’, or not able to see a path ahead, or not knowing where our future may lie (either physically or psychologically)
- Help with cultural sensitivity (when working in a community where most residents were born and bred, but we were not).
- Recognition of the space and support needed to take initiatives, to make mistakes, to keep trying, to ask more questions, to find out who we are, and ultimately what we want to do
- To be treated with respect, as an equal
In summary this work with a personal mentor is a journey of how to handle our inner and outer worlds.
For more information on the mentoring programme, or to register your interest, please email Isabel Carlisle at:
ELDERS AND YOUNGERS IN TRANSITION
One Year in Transition (1YT) and the Yelders share a common interest in expanding a network of elders who would like to offer their skills, contacts and mentoring to young adults, and a network of young adults who can offer older men and women experience of being valued for their eldership. There is no age limit and we are designing the workshop for all ages.
Conceived at Resurgence summer camp 2012, Yelders contine to emerge. Our ongoing question and intent is “how can we, the elders support the younger generation to create ecological, sustainable and spiritual livelihoods within today’s challenges?”
31 May to 1 June (5pm – 5pm)
New House Farm, Bransford, Worcestershire WR6 5JB (see www.thefold.org.uk for directions)
Bring vegetarian food to share, there are local B&Bs that you can book via the Fold website above. Donations towards venue hire are welcome. More info when you confirm you are coming! And you can download the PDF below
Places are limited to 30 people. To reserve one contact:
George Cox firstname.lastname@example.org
Mob. 0787 202 9651