Change can only happen when everyone is part of it: Why we believe intergenerational collaboration and creativity is crucial to action on climate change.
We used to say, based on research, 1 in 3 babies born in the UK today would live to the age of 100. We question that now. Science tells us that climate change is affecting local and global communities – both now and increasingly into the future unless we act urgently.
For over 30 years, Magic Me have been bringing older and younger people together to tackle problems and explore issues in their communities. We have developed ways of working together with very diverse groups, to find common ground and combine forces. We believe passionately in the role creativity can play in connecting people, building cohesion, generating resilience in individuals and communities. Our work is also driven by an urge to support the wellbeing of future generations through connecting people today.
Climate change is fast becoming a key issue for our communities in east London and Essex. People with less power and less money will be impacted most by the practical and social impacts of changing weather patterns. Care homes and social housing are not built for heatwaves. Poor air quality already damages young and older lungs alike. Climate change will impact young and older people in every community, now, and as today’s children grow older.
Since early 2020, we have been working with groups of women aged 12 – 80+ from East London to explore the climate emergency, what it means to them and and what it means to be a climate activist. The Generation Rebellion project now sees a group show their film about intergenerational collaboration and action on an international stage at the COP26 conference, highlighting how through working together we can gain fresh perspectives, insight and encouragement.
Whether it’s within a local community, with family and friends, or at a higher international policy level, conversation and collaboration between different generations can make a difference. Here’s where we think intergenerational conversations can contribute:
They can challenge ageist assumptions that prevail about older and younger generations’ views, behaviours and actions on climate change. In this context, as in many others, the media often pit younger and older people against one another, creating ageist stereotypes, animosity and false competition for scarce resources. Our experience is that people of different generations do want to work together to find common ground and solutions for their community.
Change can only happen when everyone is part of it. The climate emergency affects everyone, albeit in different ways and to different degrees. Discussion between generations actively brings out how this issue impacts different people across age, race and class, and in turn highlights what solutions or action could be taken individually, locally and globally.
Collaboration can bring hope. With such an overwhelming and wide spanning situation, finding hope and points of connection is important. Working together can help us feel less alone, there are others who we can share views with, or we can expand our perspectives beyond what we originally thought.
Magic Me is part of a wider group of arts organisations and individuals who have declared climate and ecological emergency via the Culture Declares movement. This movement recognises that the cultural sector is a leading contributor in creating a regenerative future that protects the planet and sustains everyone, everywhere.
We want Magic Me to act as a beacon for good practice in intergenerational arts activity. This includes the way in which our commitment to the environment is embedded in all that we do, and to broadcast the importance of intergenerational collaboration and the role of creativity in climate action.