Generation to Generation
Ghlúin go Glúin
What if the most important thing we could do to live more healthily and more sustainably was to learn from our grandparents? The grandparent generation have important life skills to teach us, our children, our nieces and nephews and the wider community. Learning those skills and knowledge would help us to live well, to grow food, eat locally and in season, cook healthy meals and waste less food. They could also equip us will skills to make, repair and reuse things and move away from our buy, use and throw away culture to a more circular economy. This approach also values the contribution older people make to society and contributes to a thriving local community.
Are our kids at risk of missing out on learning these skills as hectic lifestyles and technology restrict the time we dedicate to learning life skills? Can our schools, community centres, retirement homes and local clubs provide new avenues for passing skills from one generation to the next? Skills to equip the child generation of today for the world of 2050 and beyond – when climate change, population growth, urbanisation and so many other factors will have shaped a very different reality to todays.
Origins of this idea?
Several initiatives around the world and here in Ireland are embracing sustainability and intergenerational learning. For example, the Slow Food Movement here in Ireland and the Granny Skills movement started by Rebecca Sullivan in Australia. Alice Waters, the food activist from the US that inspired Michelle Obama’s White House kitchen garden with her edible school yard project is a champion of this approach, as is Darina Allen closer to home in Ballymaloe Cookery School. Darina’s work reviving the Forgotten Skills of Cooking is an example as are Olivia Goodwillie’s books that revive the skills of bread and biscuit making for younger generations.
Above all I am inspired by my grannies who knew how to do a lot with very little, who would fix and mend rather than throw away and who could turn a dinner out of even a few simple ingredients. They passed these skills on to my parents and as a result I now hold some of these. But my fear is that in the hustle and bustle of modern life my kids and other kids of their age will miss out on this transfer of knowledge. Hence the need to make an effort to value these skills and pass them on.
I am working with Belgooly national school (where my kids go to school) to develop a Ghlúin go Glúin programme (Generation to generation in Irish) to bring grandparents from the school families and the school communities into the school to share life skills.
I am also looking at ways to engage local interest groups, farms and clubs and hope to use this website and my blog to share ideas and progress.
If you have a similar project and want to connect with me please send a message via the contact page.