What is wisdom? What can be learnt across generations? We are living longer and have access to tools that allow us to create and distribute digital audio and video content almost instantly. However we are missing the opportunity offered by technology to create, preserve and share the digital content and using it to promote new dialogues of reciprocity between ages and start thinking of heritage as innovation strategy towards the future. Challenged by uncertain times ahead, we must trust our ability to co-create new paradigms of sustainability if we start conversations across generations. We need new ideas to build stronger communities and learn to share resources, ideas, stories, knowledge and skills in a true collaborative and participative environment. It sounds all good but what is the strategy in such a complex world we live?
Have you ever thought about becoming a cyber grannie? It is not a joke. In the next ten years all baby boomers who were born in the sixties are going to become the new techie savvy generation of elderly, a generation who had to adapt and learn to adapt to every new bit of emerging technologies, nonetheless this generation still have strong memories and experiences of growing up that were less techie oriented or required more human to human or face to face interaction!
Where do we start from?. Old and young don’t mix up, so… is it all lost? Well, not for Casal Rock, a project involving a group of elderly in Barcelona who became the coolest rock band in the city, breaking all preconceptions on age by getting together to perform live in prisons, secondary schools, making pop videos and bringing a positive message through music!
In certain cultures the respect towards the elderly prevents any form of innovation coming from young people due to a weight of traditions. The youth is unable to express with new voices their needs as response to a new world. There always has been a natural friction between heritage and innovation. However the current circumstances affecting us all might forced us to make use of our wisdom to come with solutions towards the future. We can’t move forward if we ignore where we are coming from. Memory is the only resource of learning and evolution that we can rely on and stories are the vehicle of transmission of collective knowledge. Unfortunately the internal hard drive of our memory system is not able to cope with so much information as we are living in a constant time-short-driven present of immediate experiences and satisfactions. We are relying more and more on Mr or Mrs Google, the grandma and grandpa of our collective memory bank. Facebook’s attempt to expose our all life history to one another is another example of the importance of social memory. Although who cares about my conversations with a goat when I was seven?
The sustainability agenda is missing the point of the intangibles to integrate the creative and intellectual capital. In this scenario policymakers are missing the point to build constructive intergenerational links.
Since the Arab Spring uprising and the occupy ‘the world’ movement we are experiencing a new level of participation in communities, willing to get rid of old systems via political, economical oppression. In this cultural and political landscape one should ask, what are the stories that can be passed from one generation to the other when the changes are happening so quickly and affecting us all? It is easy for policy makers to put us all in boxes and not seeing the interdependence and connectivity of the globalized world we are on now.
We all have the power to contribute to create a new sense of community and being able to have a say to design and imagine the future as we create our present realities based on choices. Somehow our society has evolved in many positive ways but at the same time the so called ‘developed countries’ are losing the ability to trust and connect with our senses and with other people who are ‘different’. Older people are living longer and becoming a long term nuisance for the state and families!
The journey from information to knowledge is not leading to wisdom. Why is wisdom so underrated? The ability to recycle our memories from personal to collective experiences is not a gift of the age as we have also the wisdom of innocence, of the aspirational youth.
At the same time the intoxication of data has left our brains unable to cope. We need personal curators to work for us! This is not something we think every Monday morning, but once in a while it would be great to rely on our wisdom and question why is so neglected! In this scenario almost of science real fiction depicted here
What do you think of the role of our elders in our society? How memories and wisdom can help to innovate and create links between generations? The gap is becoming wider and no one seems to care. As we live longer, so we better get prepared to discuss what active ageing means for us? for you? How do you see your self as a cybergrannie?
CREATIVE GENERATION With all this background as cultural social entrepreneur, I landed with new thoughts and new ideas to St Martin’s Estate, an inner city Housing Estate in South London in the Summer of 2011. The huge challenge ahead was how to put together Creative Generation a project aimed to build up relationships and bringing a voice together bottom up and involve as many people as possible across ages in the creative and production process.
We started with basic questions about building communities with a simple principle such as let’s talk!. No one saw the point and it was a struggle.
Creative Generation is an example of using digital media to transfer and to store human experiences and stories for our present and future generations in new ways. We have recently launched the project this Friday and it was great to see so many people in the community interacting with eachother. This is just the beginning as the activity will continue online and our aim to expand the project to gain bigger and lasting impact.
In the end we managed to put together two teams of people both old and young and worked together to produce the first ever intergenerational video archive in a Housing Estate. Now we are still looking for stories to create a user generated document that can be shared like a message in a bottle. You can start by simply sharing what have you learnt from your grandparents and if you have never met them what is that you missed more?
To share your story visit the project website and upload your story!
To trigger some thoughts why don’t you watch this short video promo to inspire you? http://vimeo.com/bigbanglab/creativegeneration
Using creativity, knowledge transfer and cultural heritage as innovation strategy for social change has been the core mission of Big Bang Lab since I founded back in 2008. Creative Generation is the ´heartchild´of Big Bang Lab´s founder and director Sergio López Figueroa. To learn more about Big Bang Lab, visit www.bigbang-lab.com
What is our wisdom for? © Sergio Lopez Figueroa, 2012