Bridging the generation gap

Watching a customer yesterday struggle to get out of their car reminded me of how precious our time here is.  In our rush to embrace new technology and the youth market I hope we don’t forget our older customers. It reminded me that the simplest things for you and me to do might very well be a struggle for others.  Our society can be measured by how we treat our elders. Do we look to them for wisdom, or shunt them off to the “old folk’s home”? We know the answer, and it's not good. So much is changing and for older folks it can be quite frightening. While you or I may say we want to “embrace change” often it’s our way of being “brave”. Author Bruce Sterling put it best in his closing remarks at Reboot 11, “Dark Euphoria is what the twenty-teens feels like. Things are just falling apart, you can’t believe the possibilities, it’s like anything is possible, but you never realized you’re going to have to dread it so much. It’s like a leap into the unknown. You’re falling toward earth at nine hundred kilometres an hour and then you realize there’s no earth there.”

As the societal ground shifts beneath our feet keep in mind the older folks who may be looking for something to hang their hopes on. The garden provides continuity and hope for us all, and is a place where young and old can come together. With the decline in garden clubs it’s an opportunity to create new clubs filled with hope and fun. This is where the local garden center can become involved. Create your own garden club and invite old and young alike to join. While garden clubs have always been places to learn from one another, they are also community building.

It’s difficult these days to get everyone in one room, at one time anymore. That’s where social media can be a benefit. It can provide a way for people to “meet” virtually. If you’re older, less tech savvy membership is confused by social media; maybe you could hold classes on how to use it. Teach people how to use these new tools. Show them how it can foster community even while sitting at home looking at a screen. Once you have built your “club” his way, it will be easier to gather people up physically for meetings and events.

This post was inspired by this drawing. It’s by author and illustrator, Maira Kalman and reminded me of a customer we had the other day. Every time someone of a certain age walks through your door keep this picture in mind. It helps keep things in perspective.