How we bring generations together

Marc Freedman wants to see younger and older people work together



Social entrepreneur, writer, and thought leader Marc Freedman founded 20 years ago — a community of changemakers age 50+ who are charting a new, engaged path through middle and late life. (See Marc’s latest book on this topic — ranked #1 on the Wall Street Journal’s list of best books on aging well.)

Marc is thinking a lot these days about how to bring the generations together — both in daily life and around solutions to pressing, multi-generational challenges like stemming the pandemic, strengthening a multi-racial democracy, and responding to the climate crisis.

He shares more in this conversation with Jill Vialet, founder of Playworks and Substantial, who is also an Ashoka Fellow. Here are a few highlights:

The root of the problem

Senior centers and retirement communities were “inventions” of last century, imagined as being good for society — the next thing! Marc shares a brief history of age segregation in 20th century America and how social innovation “got us into this mess — and will get us out.”

Towards proximity and shared purpose

What keeps Americans separated by age? Part of the answer is plain and simple: lack of proximity. Marc shares some of the innovations he’s tracking in housing, the gig economy, and more.

The route to fulfillment

Studies show that older adults who forge bonds with younger people are three times happier than those who don’t. Marc unpacks what he calls the “tributaries of life” (from his latest book), and shares a proverb to live by.

Next innovations in longevity

New solutions in longevity are sprouting up from innovators of all ages. Many are focused on meeting the needs of older adults. But Marc is most encouraged by ideas that unlock what he calls the “joint power” of the generations.

Intergenerational changemaking

What’s ahead in the next chapter of American life? Advice to the new administration? Marc reflects on the moment — the oldest-ever President sharing an inaugural stage last week with 22-year-old poet and changemaker Amanda Gorman — and why being a changemaker is a “lifetime enterprise.”

Watch the full conversation here.

You can follow Marc on Twitter here: @marc_freedman @EncoreOrg and Jill on Twitter here: @jillvialet

You can find Marc’s books here. And look for Jill’s new book on redesigning the substitute teaching experience, coming out in April, here.

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