Strong communities are ones in which all ages are engaged and thriving.
Towns and cities are so amazing because they're collaborations across time between people, place, and space.
At this moment, we have a BIG people opportunity. Communities face many complex, interconnected challenges – economic constraints, climate change, education, healthcare and social supports to name a few. At the same time, we face an unprecedented, historic demographic shift. This demographic shift is a doorway into systems change for all ages across all issue areas.
Worldwide, for the first time in history, and probably for the rest of human history, people 60 years and older will soon outnumber children under 15 years of age. While this certainly brings some challenges, the demographic shift can be a catalyst for broad change. We need strategies to meet the needs of an older population, and we
need to be strategic in utilizing the tremendous and transformational social capital of elders
(wisdom, skills, experience) to the benefit of the whole
Every day, another 10,000 Boomers turn 65. Many communities haven't even started planning for this new reality. Those that have started often take a traditional, limited approach which can restrict opportunities and economies of scope.
What we're talking about is an approach that's Age-Friendly and Child-Friendly – PLUS.
The difference and the power of YOU 177 is in the "plus," a cross-generation, cross-silo, cross-issue, big-picture timeframe: lifetimes across generations.
A Big-Picture Perspective
Given the extent of the challenges we face, we need a new way to connect the dots and innovate. YOU 177 is that new way.
The existing pace of innovation is simply too slow; the scale, too small. We need needle-moving impact.
As Albert Einstein pointed out, "we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." YOU 177 takes it to that bigger level – and bigger makes more possible.
YOU 177 can't be explained in a single, simple bite. What we can tell you is that it's based on a decade of research in areas ranging from community building, demographics, and psychosocial dynamics to systems design, economic value structures, and sustainable development. We can explain the underlying theory of a vital psychosocial dynamic that moves us from little time to Big Time. We can say it's about building a 7-Generation World.
Whole-Community Social Innovation
YOU 177 is a social innovation initiative – a whole-community, all-generation journey from dreams to legacy, from aspirations to action. Using the demographic shift as a catalyst, it's about weaving a new way of thinking and acting into your community, reframing and expanding everything you do.
Physical infrastructure like houses, roads, schools is important and often gets the most attention. But it's the underlying psychosocial dynamics, the social infrastructure, that make communities strong. Social infrastructure is made up of the powerful yet often invisible things that make lives truly meaningful and ensure communities thrive to the benefit of all. We need real connections between people, especially across generations.
YOU 177 is a tool for broad and deep community engagement and connection; a process for creatively taking advantage of shifting demographics; and a flexible framework for big-picture strategic action across all ages and issue areas.
YOU 177 emphasizes sustainable, action-oriented, community-inspired outcomes.
YOU 177 operates at three levels: the level of the individual lifetime, psychosocial and physical needs; the level of interactions between people, lifetimes across generations; and the collective systems that make up communities from generation to generation across time.
YOU 177 takes advantage of the power of what John Kania and Mark Kramer have termed collective impact. Organizations and groups still play their own instrument, but do so as an orchestra toward a larger common goal. YOU 177 brings together youth and elder serving organizations, schools, retirement communities, libraries, faith-based groups, service clubs, local government and businesses. To support collective impact, research also shows the need for a bigger perspective on funding:
Collective impact requires that funders support a long-term process of social change without identifying any particular solution in advance. They must be willing to let community leaders steer the work and have the patience to stay with an initiative for years, recognizing that social change can come from the gradual improvement of an entire system over time, not just from a single breakthrough by an individual organization. This requires a fundamental change in how funders see their role, from funding organizations to leading a long-term process of social change.
YOU 177 builds much-needed social capital and can add significant value to systemic efforts in all issue areas: Education and Lifelong Learning; Employment and Economic Development; Healthcare and Healthy Living; Social Supports and Safety; Community Development and Sites for Gathering; Housing and Development/Land Use; Transportation and Mobility; Communication and Civic Engagement. View a short video about the Tulsa Across the Generations Summit, which brought together a broad range of stakeholders across issue areas.
YOU 177 maximizes economies of scope in which a single intervention helps or positively affects multiple issues and populations.
In the words of civic leader and innovator David Pecaut:
Key is tackling both economic and social issues together… We must convene all sectors of civil society around the same table with leaders from the business community, the non-profit sectors, labor and government. And we must be committed to action, not just reports sitting on a shelf… Good ideas and civic projects with a strong consensus and collective support will attract resources… Like so many aspects of city building, as people work on projects outside their normal spheres of activity, they get connected to new people and sectors in the city, and the power and value of everything gets multiplied many times over.
Join the Journey
The YOU 177 call to action is Dream Bigger, Create Legacy.
YOU 177 is a big-picture, whole-community journey unlike any other. 1 World, 7 Generations, 7 Billion People – and YOU.
YOU 177 has been developed by an international team led by the Legacy Project. Stay updated by Following the Legacy Project on Twitter and sign up for the Legacy Project e-newsletter. For more information on how your community can start the YOU 177 journey, call the Legacy Project at 1-800-772-7765 or e-mail us.