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The Salad Bowl: Leaving A Legacy Across Generations

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The “Salad Bowl” has replaced the “melting pot” as an analogy for the USA. A melting pot requires ingredients to give up their individual flavor.  A salad, on the other hand, needs each ingredient to retain its uniqueness and participate in the overall flavor. The Salad is meant to provide girl and adult Girl Scouts with resources and ideas to recognize, celebrate, and participate in the River Valleys’ “salad.”  Bertrene Cage welcomes comments and suggestions at 763-971-4046 or bertrene.cage@girlscourtsrv.org.

Leaving A Legacy Across Generations

Where do you think it’s best to plant a young tree: a clearing in an old growth forest or an open field? Ecologists tell us that a young tree grows better when it’s planted in an area with older trees. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground. In this way, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones so that the whole forest becomes healthier.

-Excerpt from “What is Legacy?” by Susan V. Bosak at http://www.legacyproject.org/guides/legacy.html

Like trees, humans rely on the history of older generations to strengthen us. Research shows children need four to six involved, caring adults in their lives to fully develop emotionally and socially. Research also shoes that without a sense of helping those who come after them and working to create a legacy, adults lose meaning in their life. So legacy is fundamental to what it is to be human. Exploring the idea of legacy offers a glimpse not only into relationships and building strong communities, but also the human spirit.

Today, more than 13 percent of the US population is 65 years or older. By the year 2030, one in every five Americans will be older than 65, totaling 70 million. For the first time in history, there will soon be more people of grandparent age than children and youth. These older adults are more educated, active, and healthier than elders of decades past.

Our lives are enriched by our connections with people older and younger than ourselves. All it takes is the time and willingness to get to know each other. The grandfriend (an interchangeable term to describe a non-related older adult or youth that have developed a friendship) relationship is perhaps one of the most important of these relationships. It is, in fact, second in emotional importance only to the parent/child relationship. Older grandfriends can bring a sense of history, unconditional love, and support and advice. Younger grandfriends can bring a sense of the present, exuberant love, and a meaningful purpose. Older grandfriends are keepers of our heritage; younger grandfriends are forgers of our future.

Our fast-moving world of planned obsolescence does little to give us a legacy base. Everyone catapults forward to the next “newest” trend. Anything old gets tossed in the trash. Inevitably, we tend to believe that nothing endures, nothing lasts – thus the crisis of meaning. Without meaning, there can be no hope. Consciously refocusing on and building stronger relationships across generations, especially between older and younger grandfriends, can restore meaning and hope. Being a grandfriend is a role and a stage in life in which we find significant meaning and a fulfillment of our need for legacy.

Below are some resources for your troop to create a legacy with your grand friends:

  • Bridging the Gap – a program kit that connects young and old by offering fun, information, ideas, activities, resources, and books to establish meaningful relationships with older adults.
  • www.igrandparents.com – a comprehensive grandfriend website filled with a wealth of information, ideas, fun activities, advice, support, and links to enrich the lives of grandfriends young and old.
  • Bosak, Susan V. Something to Remember Me By – a story about love and legacies that has touched the hearts of children and adults across the country.

*Information for this article was obtained from Something to Remember Me By Legacy Project, www.somethingtoremembermeby.org.

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