By Tiffany Crouse
The Johnson Park Neighborhood Association and the Community Planning Council opened up paths of communication between generations in the Johnson Park area. On June 13, the groups had their first conference to discuss safety and intergenerational issues in the hopes to create a better community now and for years to come said Bentley Turner, a community activist and leader in the project.
People of all ages attended; the youngest being nine-years-old, the eldest being 75. The association worked with a group of 60 community members, adults and kids, in the area separately to discuss issues that they have with their older and younger counterparts.
At the conference, the two groups got a chance to talk and work together to understand these issues.
Community members presented projects that they had prepared for the day to show what they had learned about the intergenerational differences. One project discussed how the time period in which you were born affects who you are today.
This looked at the different leaders in power, what was happening in the world when that generation was growing up, and many other timely influences that shape who a person is.
Another discussed man-on-the-street interviews with different generations of community members.
Turner’s job was to rally the adults in the community to want to work with the kids.
“We need to identify those of us who would be more than willing to sit down and have a serious discussion and work in collaboration with the young people. With the goal being: let’s address generational differences that possibly get in the way of all of us working together,” Turner said.
The association worked with kids from community groups, such as Running Rebels, to help create a stronger youth presence at the forum.
This project was intended to open up pathways for different generations to talk to one another about local issues and discuss how to solve them.
It turned into much more than that.
“We all want the same things. We just take different paths and we need to acknowledge and understand that we have stereotypical attitudes that exist. And that we need to talk about why they exist and we need to get past them,” Turner said.
Prior to this meeting, Turner added, the generations did not collaborate on community issues.
“There was no conscious effort to see what was in the minds of the young people, because they weren’t recognized at the meetings that adults typically go to. Adults can be caught up in their world and they may not have access to youth organizations,” Turner said.
Turner believes that by paving this path of communication between generations the community will benefit and that the young and elderly people of Johnson Park can band together to be sounding boards for one another.
“What can the community do to help the young people, in general, navigate through the issues that the city is confronted with because they don’t necessarily know what they can do, so they reside themselves to ‘well just another day in the hood,’” Turner said.
This program is new to the Milwaukee area and has turned into a way for adults and youths to discuss issues. It has also given adults in the community a chance to help mentor the upcoming generations of leaders to not only grapple with issues today, but to help in the future.
On Tuesday, Bentley Turner spoke with Eric Von on 860 WNOV AM The Voice during The Eric Von Show about his work with the inter-generational initiative. The Eric Von Show airs Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on WNOV 860 AM. Listen to WNOV on TUNE IN on your mobile device or online at WNOV 860.com.