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The Rise Of Interdependence: Intergenerational America

Generation Alpha
National Geographic May 2013 Introducing Generation Alpha. Photo from Encore.org #Encore2016 Conference

The Rise of Interdependence

On MSNBC Morning Joe morning New Jersey Senator Cory Booker described his new book United. He spoke of Interdependence. A promise we make to each other. Booker caught my attention and I listened intently. Interdependence, yes he was talking about this beautiful word that I believe will transform the future of aging. In his book United he described the promise we as Americans make to each other.

In 2008 as the first Client Service Director for Advocates For Aging the website proudly described  the “myth of independence and the reality of interdependence.” Simply Americans have often described themselves as fiercely independent or self-made. The reality is we are interdependent. Examples surround us…

Stop signs –  On streets across America at every four-way stop we rely on the goodwill of a stranger. Someone who doesn’t know us holds our lives in their hands. They don’t stop, our world changes and so does our families. Yes, drivers across the country place their lives in someone else’s hands to do the right thing.

Restaurants – An entrepreneur opens a local restaurant. It becomes your favorite. Every time you visit you expect a great meal and service. The owner depends on you to return. If the meal is bad or the service is poor. No clients, no restaurant and the cycle goes on.

Standing on the shoulders of giants – We often hear this quote from speakers or writers giving homage to a trailblazer or an innovator who made their work possible.

We depend on one another almost every moment as we go about our day. The reality, our lives depend on the interdependence throughout our lives.  

Last week at Encore.org President Ann MacDougall announced the upcoming campaign Encore For Youth (E4Y). E4Y is an intergenerational campaign with the opportunity to showcase both the positive aspects of interdependence and  the future of aging. The E4Y program launching this year plans to recruit 2 million adults age 50 plus to Generation Alpha. The program is also focused on sustainability and preparing Generation Alpha for the likelihood they will live to age 120 and beyond.

Clearly from Advocates to Aging, to Corey Booker, to Encore.org interdependence is moving into our consciousness.

Judi Bonilla is a Gerontologist and Social Media Expert, and a features speaker at SXSWedu 2016. Her innovative programs are steeped in the  belief that livable communities are built by linking people to programs and services to improve their quality of their life.