Photo: Elders Forum 2009


As the Baby boomers turn sixty they face years of healthy living in relative security with no fixed agenda. Theodore Rozak, who defined the "counter-culture" of the 60s, has turned his attention to the impact aging boomers will have as they retire from the culture they helped to create. In "The Making of an Elder Culture" he argues that there is "unfinished business." A generation of activist elders with time, money, passion and experience will have a more profound impact on our planetary health than the ghettoed geezers portrayed in the retirement plan ads.

Monday, November 9th, the Suzuki Elders hosted a forum on "Elders and the Environment" to look at the particular role "elders" can play in addressing the critical environmental issues. "Eldership" is found in most cultures particularly indigenous ones but the term can also apply to contemporary society. Though age does not necessarily bring wisdom, it can bring an opportunity to see things from a broader perspective that reaches across generations. "For the grandchildren" is a byword of environmental action that native traditions extend to "7 generations." Whether the longevity of baby boomers translates into a deeper spirituality, voluntary simplicity, sensitivity to "more than human" nature and positive engagement in political process remains to be seen, but it is a hopeful possibility.

Thank you for your participation in the Elders Forum 2009 and your support for this effort to "explore the role of elders in addressing the urgency of environmental issues and motivating other to take meaningful action." We appreciated the feedback we got from the participants and we will

Workshop Summaries

Keynote Speakers:

David Suzuki, Co-Founder, David Suzuki Foundation — "A Vision for Elders "
Peter Robinson, CEO, David Suzuki Foundation — "Grounds for Hope — What's Working"
Miles Richardson, Director, David Suzuki Foundation — "Elders' Role in First Nations' Communities"
Concurrent Interactive Workshops:

Workshop 1: Elders Making a Difference — Ann Naymie
If we consider the economic, social, political impact we have as elders in today's society, who (what) is a model citizen in our environmental world? Based on our experience and wisdom what are the ethical decisions we need to make to be role models in the 21st century?

Workshop 2: Making the Human-Nature Connection — Bob Worcester
Modern urban dwellers find themselves disconnected from nature in a world of malls, media and mechanism. Re-establishing connections to life-giving nature at a deeper level is one of the gifts environmental work can bring to people. What is your experience of the natural world and how does it affect your daily life?

Workshop 3: How Elders Communicate with Other Generations — Marks McAvity
The secret to the value of elders in society depends on their capacity to communicate though the generations of the human family. How can that be enhanced in modern society with its relative "class by age" structure? What do we as elders have to say? How can we get the "ear" of others?

Workshop 4: Spirituality and the Environment — Sallie McFague
What is spirituality for the planet? The poet Robinson Jeffers says that we should "fall in love outward," with the world, rather than "inward," with ourselves. For some people, spirituality if about the individual—how I might live serenely and happily. But what would a "communal" spirituality be—one that was good for the planet and all its creatures?
Elders Forum Purpose:

To address the urgency of environmental issues and to inspire all elders to involve others, so that meaningful action will occur on the issues.

Download full conference program (PDF)

© 2008 Andy Vine, SOCAN

Excuse me, your planet is burning
Excuse me, it's really on fire
It may not seem hot where you're standing
But believe me the flame's getting higher
I really don't want to disturb you.
I know that the party was fun
But I think if you'd like to get out alive
It's time to start cooling it down

'Cos this fire is all of our making.
This fire is fueled by our greed
This fire will end when we come back again
To only consume what we need.

Excuse me, I see you're not listening
I wonder if you really heard
Or if you'd rather believe in some strange fantasy
That says that the fire's not there.
Can't you see that the ones who deny it
Are the ones who would have most to lose?
It's their fear of losing their wealth and their power
That makes them deny and confuse.

And this fire is all of our making.
This fire is fueled by our greed
This fire will end when we come back again
To only consume what we need.

Excuse me, for minding your business
But if you care for our kids please be true
To that love in your heart and make a new start
On a lifestyle called keeping it cool.
It won't hurt too much if you hurry
And get all your buddies on board
There's no time to delay. Let me show you the way.
It's time to start loving this world.

'Cos this fire is all of our making.
This fire is fueled by our greed
This fire will end when we come back again
To only consume what we need.

April 1, 2010

Read more