Community Celebration of Place: As good as it gets


Even preceding retirement 13 years ago, I wondered about how it would be out in “Elder-land”. I wrote about this recently.

Just last night, at a meeting where the age range was from (I’d guess) early 30s to mid 80s we talked about the huge dilemma these days of elder to younger communications. We communicate differently: too many new options, which many elders are not willing to adapt to. In a way, there is definitely a “canyon”. Elders and Youngers are in different worlds.

Unexpectedly, a few weeks ago, I had my eyes opened to something truly wonderful: a “bridge” between the worlds. My 92-year old friend, Lynn, asked me to accompany him to two events in Minneapolis. The first, at Sanford Middle School on May 22, was called Elder Wisdom Childrens Song “Featuring Eric Sparks’ 7th Grade Students”; the second, on May 30, was a planning session of the parent organization of the Sanford event, an organization called Community Celebration of Place directed by the organizations Executive Director and Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Larry Long. The planning session involved Elders and Youngers, visioning the coming year.

Both programs were uplifting and fascinating.

There is far too much to say to describe these programs, so I’ll just post a few brief comments, and a few photos, and you’re on your own to find out more.

Community Celebration of Place is an organization worth getting to know. The brochure available at the planning meeting, and the agenda for the morning planning session can be read here: Comm Celeb of Place001

There was a deliberate effort to integrate Elders and Youngers directly, and it was marvelous to observe.

Here’s a few photos from May 30 at the Youth and Elders Circle 2013 at the Northside YMCA in Minneapolis:

Folk artist Larry Long leads the gathering in song inspired by students at several schools participating May 30.

Kids and Elders envision future improvements at their school and community. A major part of the table talk was strictly kids. Adults were to listen!

Facilitator Anthony Galloway led discussion with participants.

Kids generated ideas for various parts of their home environment, and posted by category: school, community, etc

Work over, everyone was treated to a complimentary meal from Gandhi Mahal Restaurant in south Minneapolis.

On the ground, eight days earlier, I had seen this program in action at Sanford Middle School.

On that day, in a one hour program, Sanford 7th Grade Students honored four community Elders, Radio and performing personality Shedrick Garrett, Supt. Bernadeia Johnson, Police Officer Manny Granroos, and Community Elder and Volunteer Mohamed Salah Abdi.

In each case, the Elder spent a significant amount of time being interviewed by a 7th grade class; the interview was then translated into a story, distributed to those attending the recognition; the story was translated into a song, accompanied by interpretive acting by students in the class. It was an incredible performance and very uplifting hour for everyone. Each elder was on the stage with the kids for the entire hour.

I took many photos at this event. Here’s a single photo with the students and those being honored May 22.

Participants in Elders Wisdom Children’s Song, Sanford Middle School, Minneapolis MN, May 22, 2013

Community Celebration of Place is well worth checking out. Its ideas deserve to be experienced in many ways, everywhere.