September 18, 2014

OPINION: Writer seeks local voices of generations

Corbin H. Crable

chcrable@gardnernews.com

I’ve always been a sucker for history.

I love hearing other people’s stories about where they grew up, how they grew up, how the world around them changed as they came of age, and how, possessing the knowledge they’ve amassed over the years, they view their world now.

It just so happens that I’m looking for people who share this passion to tell me their story in a series The Gardner News will publish this summer.

Let’s face it, folks: We live in an age in which our living generations have the most vastly different life experiences we’ve seen in years. This is thanks in large part, I think, to technology.

Our current oldest living generation grew up without its trappings, in an age in which owning a radio was seen as a status symbol, in which nothing was taken for granted, in which children worked alongside their parents to ensure the very survival of their families during the Great Depression.

Our youngest living generation, meanwhile, has been raised in a society in which being given their own cell phone, their own laptop computer, their own flatscreen TV isn’t just a privilege – it’s almost a rite of passage.

While I’m not out to tout one generation over another, I think it’s importance to examine both the differences and the similarities between these two vastly different generations – and those in between, too.

The series, tentatively to be called “A Sign of the Times,” will profile Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill residents just like you and will represent every generation from the 1920s to today.
Sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe’s generational theory identifies members of a specific generation in Western cultures as those being born throughout a period of roughly 20 years. Those members, Strauss and Howe argue, identify key historical figures, cultural trends and events as helping to define and shape their personalities, values and belief systems as they come of age.

The six generations I plan to profile in this series are as follows:
1. The Greatest Generation (those born between 1901 and 1925. Part I of the series will run June 3)
2. The Silent Generation (Those born between 1926 and 1945. Part II of the series will run June 17)
3. The Baby Boomer Generation (Those born between 1946 and 1964. Part III of the series will run July 1)
4. Generation X (Those born between 1965 and 1981. Part III of the series will run July 15)
5. Generation Y (Those born between 1982 and 1995. Part IV of the series will run July 29)
6. Generation Z (or the Internet Generation) (Those born between 1996 and today. Part V of the series will run Aug. 12)

This is where you folks come in. Each part of the series will profile one male and one female representing each generation. The main story will include your memories of the local, national and world events that shaped the environment in which you grew up, as well as what it was like for you personally to come of age in the years in which you grew up.

I plan to illustrate these stories largely with reader-submitted photos and quotes, too. So even if you aren’t selected to be profiled in the main story, any photos or memories you have to share will run somewhere in the series. This is a collaborative effort, after all, and your help will make this series a success.

So call me or e-mail me with your memories, lend us your photos and share your tales of growing up as a Baby Boomer. Tell me how serving your country during a time of war shaped your experiences later in your life as a member of the Greatest Generation. Opine on how technology has molded your perception of the world around you and how you interact with others as a member of the Internet Generation. I want to know all of these things and more.

This is your chance to truly be the voice of your generation. I’d like to help you make that voice heard, and I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Corbin can be reached by e-mail at chcrable@gardnernews.com. By phone, he can be reached at (913)856-7615.

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