Hey it’s Brian Mertins and in this video I want to share one of the biggest secrets I’ve learned about creating an intergenerational community that provides the best possible education, long-term sustainability, and ongoing support systems for everyone to really live incredibly healthy, happy and successful lives.
And it has to do with this magical combination that happens when you provide developing children with the opportunity to be mentored by elders who have a lifetime of knowledge and experience in the natural world.
I’ve been on a quest for knowledge of how to design better education and mentoring systems ever since I was a teenager and realized that I really didn’t have a lot of mentors in my life.
I didn’t feel like my experience in public school was giving me the practical skills I needed in order to follow a successful path in life.
And I was also looking around at some of the destruction taking place in the natural environment around the world and thinking, "there must be a better way to do education and create a world where people and nature can live in harmony. How can we solve this?"
My journey actually led me very directly to a wilderness survival school out on the west coast. I wanted to learn traditional skills for living in harmony with nature.
How do we design sustainable communities that both nourish our human needs and also don’t generate that really destructive effect on the landscape?
...Even enabling us through our lifestyle to help the environment regenerate and become more and more productive.
So a big part of when we did these programs - we spent part of our class time just out on the land exploring birds and tracking wildlife and doing primitive skills.
Really what we were doing is learning to use our awareness and observation skills to read a landscape and recognize patterns in the local environment.
(Both skills that the modern education system is absolutely horrible at providing yet these are some of the most fundamental human skills that have incredible stimulating and energizing effects on the human mind.)
Then the other part of this program we would actually come back from these adventures outside on the land and gather in an outdoor fire space where we would sit and talk about our experiences as a group and have these incredible conversations about life and culture and the relationship between people and nature.
One of the things that would happen when we gathered around the fire, we would always have at least 2 or 3 elder chairs that were a bit more comfortable than the stumps that our class was sitting on.
And this program was designed so that we had elders in the community who had a lifetime of experience working on outdoor skills and also just general life skills.
They would come and join us around the fire so we would sit and share stories and they would listen, ask questions and share stories from their own life.
There’s something really magical that happens when you get this intergenerational mentoring really working in a community learning environment, whether it’s adult programs or especially in kids programs.
It really has a profound impact on the kids to have elders spending this time with them and helping them connect with nature.
I remember one of the things that was shared with us at that school is this idea we are all like elders in training.
That by going outside and cultivating this ability to observe and get tuned with the patterns of a landscape it has the effect of awakening really powerful elder qualities like deep listening, authentic curiosity, and timeless appreciation for life.
And just imagine what it would be like if every person who reaches the age of elder hood was actively sharing their life wisdom and a love for the earth with the next generation.
Elders are at a particular stage in life when they’re able to really be some of the best mentors for upcoming generations.
If children can have wise, nature conscious elders who are looking to support the flourishing and nourishing of the next generation then those kids will grow up to be very wise themselves, and generation after generation that wisdom will accumulate and continue to pass forward.
This is really one of the biggest things that I have seen really powerful when you can integrate elders into early childhood education programs. Actually get the kids to spend time with the elders outside in nature.
Imagine if every preschool had elders that came and helped with mentoring the kids, sharing stories, and just spend time listening and supporting their discovery.
Imagine if we started integrating preschools directly into the design of every retirement community & gathering point for elders.
And how that would bring such a synergy between the wisdom of elders and the freshness of childhood, and it just brings everybody into greater health and happiness.
So I wanted to just share this idea that no matter what stage of life you are in right now, whether you’re just starting out in life, or if you’re already at the age of elderhood.
What would happen if we all took on this long term attitude and mindset and start to see ourselves as elders in training, and consider that this is truly one of the highest points of leverage we have in our society.
To engineer these relationships between nature conscious elders and children awakening their senses.
What are you gonna do to step into your gifts as an elder and mentor?
I’ll put some links in the description below this video to different action steps that you can take that will help you develop those elder qualities.
Thanks so much for joining me today in this video… and I will talk to you next time!