What I Learned About Belonging: An Intergenerational Perspective

In recent years, Front Porch communities embarked on an exploration of resident experience entitled Sense of Place. Creative Spark collaborated with staff to create an experience that could be shared with a wider audience. Through that, Creative Spark staff interviewed Front Porch residents with the prompt, How does it feel to belong and How can we create an environment that fosters a sense of belonging in others? 

Through these interviews we found some overarching themes that fit into our understanding of the Creative Aging Principles.

  1. Connection: Intentionally reaching out. Draw people into a safe zone. Share a bit of yourself so people feel comfortable sharing who they are. Mentorship to offer support and build confidence. Do a lot together. Share time and space. Connect around common values.
  2. Growth: Information sharing. How you are received affects how you will proceed. What surrounds us shapes us. 
  3. Wellness: Acceptance of who you are and offer respect to others.
  4. Culture Shift: Honoring the experience of others. Listen, pursue what others want to share. Be curious. 
  5. Growth: Learn from others. Understand people engage in different ways and respect the way people want to participate or not. Create a variety of ways people can engage and connect. Different things will intrigue different people. 

During that same time, Creative Spark was on-site at Institute on Aging leading an intergenerational program. We took the opportunity to ask the teens their opinions on Belonging. We were taken aback by the similarities in responses. 

  1. Bring everyone together in an all school assembly and inform everyone about issues and upcoming events. 
  2. Clubs where like people get together around shared interests. 
  3. Open space where people can just be.

The conclusion? We all want more ways to connect with others - people like us and different than us - in a way that feels safe and authentic. Thankfully, spaces for creative engagement are doing just that!

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