By Ainslie Heilich, PG
In England, the London Underground has a famous phrase, “MIND THE GAP”, that is played over the PA system and is emblazoned on the edge of the station platforms. This now iconic warning is to remind passengers stepping on or off of the trains to look down and make sure they aren’t stepping out into thin air, as many of the station platforms are curved and therefore create a large divide to step over. This video is a good example of the curve leaving a decent gap for the young lad to manage.
As Odd Fellows, we have our own gap to mind. The generational one. The has been much written on the topic of the membership of the Order skipping two generations by Dave Rosenberg PGM CA. We are all aware of the very grave problem of our aging membership dying out and Lodges losing their quorum because of it. But that is merely a symptom of a decades long problem. We shouldn’t have allowed things to get to the point of having to last minute recruit anyone who is breathing just to keep a Lodge open. This is the wrong solution and it will only be a temporary one. If we were to run out and recruit a couple younger folks to be members and expect to just relax because as long as they keep paying dues for the next 30 plus years that the Lodge is secure is also the wrong solution. It will require more than just that.
Attracting younger people is just one of the difficult tasks we face, then we must give them a reason to keep coming, and ultimately the training needed to take over. Each step of the way will have its own unique set of challenges that older and younger members will face. But if we took some time to actually get to know and understand each other then we will all be more successful in this endeavor. Since the beginning of time, the younger generation has been the scourge of those much older and “wiser”. I say wiser with a grain of salt because wisdom is not just the culmination of a lifetime of acquired knowledge, it is knowing when and how to share it with younger folks, and still allowing them to make mistakes without your harsh judgement so they can fully understand the lesson for themselves. Wisdom is also the radical acceptance that everyone is different and has a different set of life experiences that drives them and while it may not be your cup of tea, it is how others live.
Failure to mind the gap will quickly alienate younger members and drive them away. The reasons they are drawn to Odd Fellows may not be the same as yours. What they want to get out of being a member of the Odd Fellows may not be the same as yours. Their ideas for the Lodge may not be the same as yours. Different doesn’t mean its bad or wrong. It means they are looking at if from a different perspective and therefore see the same object in a different way.
Recently, Michael Greenzeiger and Linnea Bredenberg did a short seminar on communications between generations in the Lodge at the IOOF Educational Seminar, Reno, NV. It is well worth the 20 minutes. The three slides above are taken from it and really hit the point on the different perspectives the different generations of members are approaching the Odd Fellows from. None of these approaches are wrong, they are just coming from a different perspective, and there is plenty of room for that in the Lodge if we are open to it and don’t forget to “MIND THE GAP”!
Originally posted to IOOFTV by Mel Astrahan: http://www.eyephysics.com/iooftv.html IOOFTV is a commercial free, unlimited central repository for public relations programs that may be of interest to members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. To order videos on a USB memory stick, to host your video productions, or for the IOOFTV News team to report from your event email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PDF of presentation slides:
Communications between generations
Original video location:
2 thoughts on “Mind the (Generational) Gap”
I have been an Odd Fellow for less than a year and I’m an older Gen X. In our rapidly growing lodge I suspect that the gap that Michael and Linnea are covering came before me arrival. For me, the gap is related to the knowledge of traditions I am attempting to learn. The members from the era of traditions, teaching, and memorization (I will assume are from the Silent and some traditional Baby Boomer generations) are not present often enough in the lodge. What we now call the “old guard” (likely be Baby Boomers or free-spirited Gen Xers) are members who joined as the “young people” and are now a touch older than the new people coming in today. The gap I see created is that today’s “old guard” might have felt like the troublesome young people to their “old guard” and might not have earnestly collected the traditions from their elders. So now along comes curious Gen X or Millennial wondering about more than just when the next social is going to be held (although my brothers and sisters can attest to my enjoyment of a good social). My point is what I believe the DMC and the presenters in the video were making, and that is without the steady adding of members over the decades then a homogeneity is created either traditional older or non-traditional younger. Spreading years of experience or deeper meanings on the values of Odd Fellowship could be hard to achieve. People of the traditional generation have been members of their lodges for decades. They love their lodge and their brothers and sisters. I would even suppose that they love Odd Fellowship as much as the people they see at the Lodge. Today’s new members respecting the traditions and respectfully talking with those seasoned members should be (in a perfect Odd world) the channel through which the traditions make their way to the new members (of many generations) who will keep the Order alive within the non-traditional world they live.
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What a great assessment Billy! Thank you for sharing.
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