So… Earlier this week, my boyfriend and I were debating about Activism as it relates to our generation… and it actually got pretty heated.
My argument? “This generation is ALL talk! Our parents and grandparents were more about action! If it’s not trending, we don’t care and it’s over before the work even starts”.
His argument? “The only reason it seems our parents and grandparents fought so hard was because they HAD to. They had no other choice. They were also more united. They had better connections”.
Can you believe him?… Anyway, the next day (after the debate) I glanced at my blog calendar and noticed I had a piece about what else?…Activism…and it was due in less than 24 hours. I wanted this piece to relate back to Mentor Up. Why would we care about Activism? Well simply put…we are Activists in a way. We’re what I like to call “Intergenerational Activists”. What’s that? I’m so very glad you asked…
Intergenerational: relating to, involving, affecting several generations; Activist: an advocate of a cause
Reverse Mentoring? “What You Know Is What They Need”? Sounding familiar at all… Yes, we care about the issues of those 50+, while using our strengths to aid them. No one gets left behind. We share our skills and “what we know” to help them move forward WITH us…
And who better to discuss this specific kind of activism?… None other than AARP’s very own and the “Intergenerational Activist of Today” herself (yes I made that up)… Ms. Laura Hahn.
How to describe Laura? She’s awesome. But, I gathered that she’s very vibrant, creative and passionate about her work with older adults…and she’s insanely polite.
Best, known for her blog, Arthur and Bernie, Laura is the perfect example of the type of activist that I admire. Her blog and work are based on her friendships with Bernie, who just so happens to be her grandfather, and her long distant friend, Arthur, whom she met while volunteering with Dorot (which means “generation” in Hebrew..How cool right?!) in New York.
As you read above, I had a firm stance on the activists of our generation. They appear to be lazy and lack enthusiasm and urgency in my opinion… But, surprisingly enough, Laura presented a new perspective and she didn’t even know it…
Ayanna Alexander: So, I’m just gonna ask a few very quick questions about activism…ready?
Laura Hahn: Yeah, I’m excited!
AA: What’s your definition of Activism and why?
LH: Oh.. Well… I don’t really think I’m so good to ask… But, I think of activism as being an advocate of the people. I’m so passionate about older adults. You have to believe in everything you’re doing. So, I’m definitely an advocate for older adults.
AA: In your opinion, is activism more prominent now or in the 60s, 70s and 80s?
LH: Oh, activism is very constant, ya know? Granted ways to becoming active has changed over the years, but we have plenty of activists now. See, now with social media, we have added another place for our voices to be heard in so many different ways. Activism is definitely still prominent. It’s just different. People are still very passionate about their beliefs.
AA: So, you honestly believe we’re still making a difference? Even now?
LH: Absolutely! Just because you can’t always tell, people are still listening…believe me, you all are definitely heard.
AA: On a scale of 1-10…10 being the highest.. How important is Intergenerational Activism to you and why?
LH: *giggles* I’d have to say a 10! Before I got involved with this… I was writing with magazines like People, Jane… but I didn’t feel passionate about anything until I volunteered with Dorot and that’s where I met Arthur… I became excited about it… it’s like it was supposed to be my life’s work. So… I blog for AARP and I have my Arthur and Bernie blog… It’s very fulfilling…
AA: What are some qualities of an Intergenerational Activist?
LH: Uh let’s see… You have to have Passion, for sure! You definitely have to have respect for all ages… One of my pet peeves is hearing when older adults are called “cute” because they’re not small and it kinda implies that they’re dainty and frail and that’s not who they are at all… Uh you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes… You have to have drive… You MUST know that there’s a bigger goal in mind.
AA: That’s inspiring actually… and I hate hearing older adults called cute but I’m definitely guilty of it… but they’re not babies, they’re people too. Not like puppies or something!
LH: Right! It’s a respect thing for me… I love what I do and I take it seriously… and being around older adults is pretty great.
AA: Okay… Final question… what are some ways to bring awareness to intergenerational issues, thus sparking this type of activism?
LH: I’ve noticed a lot of people post pictures with their parents and grandparents through social media, which is pretty cool ya know? Social Media is one way to do it! It’s so cool how it works.. You have to believe that using every outlet will spark some type of change… you have to know that. It could be a small victory now, but it’ll lead to a bigger victory later… People also need to learn how to use the right language when communicating with older adults. There’s a certain way to say things. A lot of these intergenerational programs focus solely on children..but I love Mentor Up so much because you all focus on older adults and reaching back to them… That’s cool in itself. You guys have to know you’re doing something great.
AA: Yeah.. It is pretty awesome. I never knew I would even do anything like this… But intergenerational issues are real issues that should be addressed… Thank you so much for your time! You’re great!
LH: *laughs* no Thank you! This was amazing!
That interview really brought me back to life… Not only because I’m an aspiring journalist… BUT because she kind of combined the points from my debate the other night. It’s not that our generation is lazy… We’re just doing things differently. No, we didn’t hold sit ins and many protests… but regardless of what we see or feel, our tweets and facebook posts and instagram pictures are constantly being noticed. We definitely have a voice in this world… It’s time for us to use it…
Let us not forget those you came before us… It’s because of them that we have a blueprint for what an activist should be… it’s our foundation… our starting point… We are building off of who they were… And now? It’s time for us to pay homage by bringing them forward… to stand side by side with us on a day to day.
For more information on Laura Hahn and her work:
Her blog: Arthur and Bernie- www.arthurandbernie.com
Follow her on twitter: https://twitter.com/arthurandbernie