Where it All Started...
The spring pageant! It was a highlight of the year in the small logging town in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up. Early every spring, townspeople of all ages, backgrounds, and talents came together—a hundred strong—to stage this event, and the results were astounding. Young people thrived on the time and attention provided by their elders, who were in turn energized by the enthusiasm and imagination of youth.
I didn’t know it at the time, but even in those early years I was making connections about the creative power of generational diversity.
I was also falling in love with theater.
Years later, on an educational path that would lead to a doctorate and professorship in theater, I began to explore non-traditional applications of theater arts. I discovered creative new ways for people on the everyday stage of the real world to come together—to plan, to dream, to communicate, to strengthen one other.
Early in my career, I worked with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to facilitate a multi-generational team of community members as they embarked on an extensive youth empowerment initiative. We ignored those top-down business-as-usual planning models. Instead, we engaged young people in meaningful ways to explore possibilities with older adults. Together they found innovative solutions to their problems, and once again, I witnessed the dynamic power of a generational mix.
The world changes and we keep learning…
When I began teaching university students in the 1990s, I could strongly identify with them. After all, they complied with rules, they assumed the teacher was the expert, and they did whatever it took to successfully complete a course. They really weren’t all that different from me as a student.
Then, around 2007 something shifted. A new breed of student arrived on campus: these kids were more interested in why we were studying the things we were and why we studied them the way we did. They challenged my authority on almost every front. In time, I came to understand that I had met the Millennial. It didn’t happen overnight, but we transformed each other, and now I am convinced that with the appropriate leadership and support, our millennial generation will exceed our expectations and lead us to achieve shared goals.
I founded Creativia to advocate for millennials as they develop their talents in today’s workplace. My approach is proven and practiced. Our cornerstone is “generational diversity” that respects—and requires—the exuberance of youth and the experience of age.
It’s an intergenerational thing.