Participant’s Blog: Dave Rock

Why I chose to come:

I think two essential aspects of a healthy, resilient culture, are an open-ness to learn from others, and even be changed deeply by them, and a sense of personal responsibility and leadership. These do not normally thrive in a vacuum; we need to be surrounded by others who are willing to do the same, and we need to be connected to those who can teach us and change us in ways resonant with who we are and want to be. I think comings together in this spirit are reservoirs of fuel and inspiration for taking those steps we believe in. There are many kinds of relationships across difference and same-ness that help fertilise healthy culture, and one of the most vital, and sadly most neglected these days, is inter-generational pollination. To really be with, and learn from those who’ve walked some of the pathways we face, and to echo our own steps back to those starting out, nothing could be more enlightening and affirming. We have a crucial deficit of Elders in our culture, because we have generations who were never given the guidance and support themselves, and now don’t have the resources to offer it. We also have waves of young people closed and distrustful of the idea that anyone could teach them anything. Despite this, wisdom surrounds us in many different bodies, and to all those who are open to learning and sharing, the right Elders and Youths appear. So I feel like we’re now surrounded by people reaching out and weaving new connective tissue by being those ones who step up, offering themselves to the re-creation of these links. Events like this voyage can be amazing catalysts, in bringing people together you multiply them endlessly, and the possibilities multiply likewise. Where outside in the world, so much of what we do feels like an uphill struggle, when we are nestled together with so many folks who want and believe the same things as us, or at least resonate strongly enough, we can take flight with ourselves, and the sense of what is possible and what is needed expands so much. I don’t know exactly where or how or with who my life’s work will end up, I don’t know the ultimate shape of it, but I know that it will always be changing, and I know what it will feel like. I think that sense of recognition that can come when people of like heart and mind get together is as necessary as oxygen if we are truly to chase after our dreams.

Participant’s Blog: Valentina Catena

Valentina – a very valued participant in the Youth & Elders Project who has also taken part in the planning and preparation of the journey – sent us a letter after we’d spent a few days working together in Copenhagen. It has formed the basis of our participant’s blog where each person joining shares their thoughts on why they’ve chosen to participate.

Read her reflections below.

Berlin, 13/5 2012
On my way back to Berlin, I found myself in need to write down my thought on the Y&E project. I needed to find my purpose.
I think something is shifting inside me. I feel the beginning of a shift from “hosting myself!” – looking inward to what I learn— to an increased sense of responsability… what are my learning worth if I do not share them with others?
So, here is my piece- and sorry for my crappy english 🙂


Joining the “Youth and Elders project”

“I have the vision of a boat full of friends of different ages who embarque in a learning journey together. They support each other in their process of personal and collective growth. They learn the art of mentorship: to hold space for the learning of the other. They learn how to grow towards more sustainable relationships with the ecosystem, with their inner resources, and with society.

In this journey they create a vibrant sailing crew, learning how to navigate by making use of the forces of nature and the resources inside the boat.”

Collaboration- mentorship – care – learning journey

It took me a while to figure out the real reason why I wanted to join the Y&E project.

At the beginning I thought it was because of my childhood: elders hold the space for my growth since I was a newborn baby. Yet, our exchange always felt balanced, as I was sharing my learning on how to write and read with my illiterate “step-mother”, and later on, I was exchanging stories and enthusiasm with my grandparents. I learned from their belief and their being.

However, only after talking to Mark, a clearer answer came to me.

I am committed to understand the quality of mentorship. My own, as someone who has been working and sharing life with youngest, and the quality of more experienced guides- mature and non-mature people who feel the need to pass on their learning and their experience to others. 

More and more the story that is narrated tells that becoming old means becoming useless- that the youngster are not interested in interacting with the elders.

I wonder what this story says about humanity. Are we cultivating experiences and learning for ourselves? Or are we cultivating them to be able to share them with others? What is the value of memory and of multigenerational exchange? What stories will I tell when I’ll be older? How do I want to live life so that these stories are worth to be narrated and passed on? what will they say about my values, my dreams, my being human?

I am calling. I’m calling to rewrite this story. I’m calling for restoring the values of guidance and mentorship in people of all ages, so that we feel to be at service of our communities, of our partners, our daughters and son, our friends.

I do not think that this value of mentorship is connected to age. In my story, being a mentor means feeling and acting like fertile ground – which contains the trace of what is was and the seeds of what it will be.

I’m inviting myself to investigate when and where I’ve been a mentor in my life, and what are the qualities necessaries to hold that space of inspiration and openness for other people freedom of choice.

I hold the intention to be open to different sources of mentorship. To learn from the sailing, from the contemplation, from the challenges of living together in a reduced space, from the immensity of the ocean, from the different needs of our different ages, from the questions that will arise.

I’m looking for wise questions to sit with, and for stories that can help me to unfold them.

I’m looking to embarque in a journey with friends from different ages- to learn from our different ways to be and to look at life.”


Thank you to be in this journey with me!

With love,


Thoughts from a friend of the Youth & Elders Project

The conversations that are happening around our work continue to inspire, and recently we received an insightful email from Floris Koot from the Knowmads. We felt inspired to share it.


When all ages gather and co-create. 

It just so happens though that I have been at several events with peoples of all ages. It was magic. There were these 3 elder women (60+) who would ask just one question to everyone, and we’d stop what we’d been doing and then start puzzling for an hour about the answer to that one, or about the meaning and implications of that question. There was a 17 year old girl, who would start doing something, while we were still discussing stuff and she made the rest of us, me at the least, feel trapped in mental processes and thus helped us start doing stuff. It was the people in their late 20’s early 30’s who had the biggest drive. They had fires in their arguments. The ones in their 40’s and early 50’s who were the (mostly) leaders and facilitators, and the late 50’s who acted as advisers, coaches.

The strange thing was, we never discussed this kind of roles or planned it, which made it more real for me. It was how things should be. In most groups certain ages are left out or not taken serious, and therefore the quality of their energy is not brought in or even felt*. That 17 year old had more impact than most experienced people present. I feel grateful having been part of that circle (it stopped existing, but led to many interesting initiatives, like ‘art of hosting’). A funny thing was that the last year I was there I passed a magic point in age, and was the only one between 40 and 50. That year I was the leader, not because of talent or vision, but because of gravitas and enjoyment in fulfilling that position. One very experienced guy, a bit over 50, preferred to be coach and wise guy on the side and the younger 28+ all accepted me in that role, so they, probably, didn’t have to compete among themselves. I don’t know.

My tip: create moments where real age groups sit together and share what is their role, message to the other ages. Create moments were the most mixed in age groups sit together and let them discover and name what each of them brings to the group. Wondering what is personality and or because of age. And play with bringing people together who feel they share the same inner age (on a certain level like playfulness, wisdom and or drive) and discover what either that age is, and or who they feel fits their group (yes, allow people to cast out old geezers who wannabe young, or young ambitious people, who mix up wisdom with personal convictions.

good luck,



*) We punt the elderly in homes, smile when they talk and then wonder why their brains die. They just don’t have a real contribution anymore, excuse I think we don’t want to think long term. We also don’t listen to children and their naive idealism (save nature) but rather get our targets and bonuses and forget about consequences for the rest of the world. Perhaps the scary thing is that companies have become cities that only accept healthy, productive adults who comply to its mission of making money. And in a village that does not represent everyone, you just know, weird decisions will be made.

Emerging Leaders and Emerging Elders

We’ve just come from yet another really inspiring skype call – this time with Crane Stookey, captain and founder of the “Nova Scotia Sea School” ( And we have yet another perspective on what our work might be: creating a space for emerging leaders – and for emerging elders!

As I hung up, I thought of your project as the Emerging ElderShip. One of the things we said among ourselves when originally thinking of the emerging elders idea is that eldership is not about age, it’s more about how do we share our experience in ways that support the experience of other generations, rather than trying to shape their experience for them. If we can learn that, we can be an elder at any age.

(Crane Stookey – captain and founder of the Nova Scotia Sea School)

So – how might we support emerging elders in sharing their experience in a way that is meaningful and can support the experience of other generations?

In his book (Keep your people in the boat – workforce engagement, lessons from the sea), Crane talks about the difference between Leaders with a capital “L” and leaders who invite people to see the bigger picture. Leaders who claim space and make people believe it’s about the Leader, and leaders who step back and provide people with the space to step into their potential. He has some really beautiful examples in his book – so I would like to warmly recommend it! (It is published by ALIA publications, and I’m sure you’ll find it on-line if you perform a simple search…)

Crane gave us some very helpful ideas – for instance to think in terms of the ‘texture’ of the experience at sea. He advised us – very much in line with what we feel, but with very clear words, coming from years of experience – to trust, that the boat and the situation at sea will do a large part of the work for us. That we should make sure we provide a certain structure and rhythm, but not to think too much about facilitating this, but let the boat and the sea do the facilitation. Much in line with Janoff and Weisbord: “Don’t just do soemthing, stand there!” – just that on the Lovis we can choose to have the Sea as a powerful ally!

Being on a boat provides ample possibilities to experience contrast, and Crane recommends that we make use of that. There is intense claustrophobia, and there is open space. There is the hard work of sailing the ship, there is time for contemplation. And in dialogues, participants will be able to experience both. They can be very open and emergent, and they can converge on decisions and action. At any point in time, participants are faced with a choice: what do they want to give their attention? Do they want to face inwards and experience the closeness and claustrophobia, or do they want to turn outwards and experience the vastness of the open sea?

The situation on the boat – where participants will be divided into three watch groups, lends itself naturally to allow some of the conversations to take place in these groups, while the times when we will be anchored in a harbour offers itself for work in the whole group.

We also spoke about the potential of the youth and elders project – what might this be in one or two year’s time? Perhaps a much anticipated annual event, perhaps a more stable breeding ground for an active and effective community?

I see great potential in the idea of “Emerging Elders” – let’s go for it!

A wave of new paradigms

Again and again in our conversations around the Youth & Elders Project, our guests have touched upon what seems to be a trend in our time. The words have been different every time but they have all been speaking about a new collective understanding of the systemic complexity that underlies our social, ecological and economic structures and a new appreciation for the need tocollaborate.

Here is an article that speaks to an important part of this equation: Our economic paradigm. It captures the dichotomy in the “fringe perspectives” that are pushing for a holistic understanding, and the established “truth” of economic literacy.

The most important conclusion is that the transition is slowly happening, but that it won’t happen by itself. The ones who are seeing the greater systemic patterns and can appreciate what they mean need to drive the shift to a new economic model that can fathom global planetary boundaries, new business models and cross-sector collaborations.

Read it! It’s ten minutes well spent!

From the article:

“The dominant narrative says that environmental restraint must be limited and gradual, while social spending must be contained, otherwise the economy will not grow and we will all suffer. This kind of thinking is pervasive, dangerous, and outdated. Infinite growth in a finite world is impossible, growth based on speculative finance is unstable, and since the 1960’s, GDP growth and self-reported well-being have been completely uncorrelated phenomena. In this sense holistic, deep-reaching change of both thought, education and practice is needed. Indeed, we were brought together by an increasing realization that our global economic troubles aren’t just a few bad apples; the problem is indeed the apple tree.” – Michael Sandmel

Crowd-Funding Campaign Live!

Dear Friends, our crowd-funding campaign is live!

You can now go to and donate for our project. This is classified information, so please spread it in your networks and to all your friends. And of course you are welcome to donate yourself!

We are asking for $6892 – which is the equivalent of €5250, the bare minimum it takes to float the ship. For every cent you contribute we get a little bit closer to this aim!

All contributions go to our scholarship fund that will help ensure that this experience is inclusive and that we can reach the diverse group of people needed for this exchange to ripple out into the world.

If you can’t support us with money, don’t worry! There are other important ways of supporting us:

  • by helping us reach out to others who might endorse the project
  • by providing us with media coverage
  • by linking your organisation to ours
  • by contributing your fantastic ideas, vision and drive to see Youth and Elders across the globe come together in a strong alliance for tomorrow

Yay! We now have a scholarship fund!

Oy shipmates!

We have some wonderful news! We’ve managed to create a Youth & Elders Scholarship fund to allow people (like you!) to apply for support to join. If you’re interested – let us know! And if you or someone you know would like to contribute to the fund to open the door for someone else; well, let us know too 🙂

Fresh endorsements for the Youth and Elders Project…

Thank you Maddy Harland from Permaculture Magazine and Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist and futurist; author of “EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution”  for endorsing our project!

Maddy Harland writes:

“We live in a world that has lost the art of managing time. The more ‘developed’ we become, the more harassed and ‘time poor’ our culture becomes. We have lost the long view, the understanding of sustainability over at least seven generations. The Youth and Elder project honours the role of the elder in our culture and restores our appreciation of time. It also recognises the importance of the fire of youth. We need both wisdom from experience and a passionate optimism for life. Both qualities will help us restore the Earth and in our journey to create a genuinely sustainable culture.”

Elisabet Sahtouris writes:

“The world belongs to the youth and we the elders support them fully because we know they are the elders of the future and will support the next generations  So the Cosmos cycles us in love and fulfillment.  –

A moment of synchronicity…

In our last Skype call, Doug Cohen introduced to me the idea of “friends that have not yet met”…

This is from a friend I have met quite recently, and it came at a surprisingly appropriate moment, as we find ourselves racing along in search of funds, people, partners and all sorts of other things. Funny how the exact thing you need to hear sometimes just presents itself…

Don’t force it
Just flow

Don’t control it
Just enjoy

Don’t hurry
Just be present

Don’t question it
Just trust

Conversation with Doug Cohen, The Leadership Centre

We had an inspiring Skype call with Doug Cohen ( yesterday – with great questions coming up:

What is success for us? Moving hearts, souls destinies?

We obviously feel a sense of obligation to float the boat – How can we extend our sense of obligation to funding ‘angels’? How can we invite people to contribute to The Youth & Elders Project, perhaps just in a fraction of their time, but in a way that makes them wake up in the morning, feeling that this is a priority for them, electing to take action?

And on our pathway to June – how are we aware of what we are busy with? And what’s the “so what” of the project? And what’s the “so what of the so what”?

And on top of all of this, a new verb was born into our vocabulary: ‘youthing’. And what an obvious and beautiful compliment to ‘eldering’.