Last weekend, I was watering a big zucchini plant in my front yard when an elderly woman walked by. I decided to say “hi” and she also said “hi”. We began chatting and it turned out that she lives on my block and has been growing food for many years. We found our common ground through gardening. It didn’t matter that there are over four decades that divided us.
After our conversation, she went back to her home and plucked two large zucchinis from her garden to share with me. As she handed me her generous gift, it became clear that she had successfully reached out across a gap. It was an awesome moment.
There is a magic that happens when people reach out like this. Have you ever experienced it? Here are some more fantastic examples from all over the world.
DIY Arts and Crafts – The Amazings (United Kingdom)
In the UK, there is a phenomenal new style of education called “The Amazings.” Anyone over the age of 50 can become an “Amazing”. There are no traditional qualifications required. You don’t need to have letters after your name. The main requirement is passion and a desire to share your wisdom about a specific skill.
This for-profit company began with a vision to create a marketplace and platform for wisdom.
“We see Amazingness everywhere. It’s the retired postman who can play the ukulele. It’s the grandparent who knows morse code. It’s the neighbour who was an opera singer. Maybe society isn’t as good at passing down these skills through generations as we used to be.”
If you can’t pop over to attend a class in the UK, you can check out their online classes.
Community Dialogue – Gen Why: Bring Your Boomers (Canada)
Gen Why Media is a production group that collaborates across disciplines to create media, events, workshops, public art and intergenerational dialogues that engage society in new forms of public engagement.
Bring Your Boomers is a series of events created by Gen Why Media. They bring fascinating folks together and facilitate ‘living room style’ conversations. This creates an informal but important space for the public to re-evaluate their opinions, assumptions, values and beliefs while connecting with members of their community. These events also include cultural performances from artists in the community.
Humour Therapy and Songs – Arts Health Institute (Australia)
The Arts Health Institute is a non-profit organization in Australia that brings a child-like playfulness into the hearts and minds of folks who have entered aged care communities and often feel discarded. They “enable life changing programs in hospitals, aged care facilities and in the general community.” The programs include Play Up and Sing Out Loud Together.
The Play Up Program uses humour therapy and was the subject of a world-first, large-scale randomized controlled trial improving depression, social engagement and reducing agitation. It was also the subject of a documentary, The Smile Within, broadcast on ABC1 on 4th March 2012.
Music Education – Brookline Music School (United States)
Brookline Music School provides accessible music education and monthly performance in retirement communities and rehabilitation facilities. These performances provide interactive experiences with professional musicians and their students in an intimate setting. Their faculty performers offer programs featuring classical soloists, vocalists and chamber music, Jazz combos, and music of other cultures.