a statewide queer people of color organization

The importance of intergenerational community building

Our QPOC communities are made up of many different people in many different places in their life journey, which is what makes our communities so amazing and full of light. When we come together to pass on stories, histories, experiences, and wisdom that our communities have gathered and kept, that is the space where community is born. So it goes without saying that when we divide our communities up, whether intentionally or not, we close ourselves off to whole sections of our communities knowledge, strength and power. By creating truly connected communities we are able to create a space where knowledge and ideas can be freely shared, where people can come together to support one another, and where we can see that our communities are not just making it, but that they are thriving.

It cannot be stated enough how important it is for QPOC youth and QPOC elders to be able to interact and spend time with each other. The ability to see people who are not only living similar experiences as you, but are thriving, strong and growing can shape the way a person approaches their life experiences. Many people say that having youth participate in community spaces brings in new and exciting energy, which can be true, but the energy that is put out by our elders is just as just as new and exciting, and just as important to creating healthy communities, while often being overlooked. Our elders are able to bring a life of personal experience, as well as an energy that comes from having more lived experience. When elders are around we are reminded that the light within us shines bright. Only when we are able to create intergenerational spaces are we then able to see the full power of our communities.  

What types of things can we do to foster multi generational spaces? 

Make space for youth and their parents. Often time’s parents are forced to make the difficult decision on whether or not they are able to take part in community gatherings with their children. Let’s be clear, meetings that ask community members for input, but do not welcome parents, youth, and elders are not spaces looking for community involvement. The ability for youth and their parents to participate in community events will not only make events better, but will create a space where communities are able to truly come together as a whole. 

Allow space for youth and elders to participate, offer feedback and ideas, and value that input. Often times youth and elders are made to feel as though their feedback doesn’t matter, or that their ideas will not be taken seriously. Create spaces that are inviting and open, where people are encouraged to participate and share, regardless of age, or experience. Where each idea is valued and taken seriously. Let’s create spaces that are open to the free exchange of ideas and value the input that comes, while nurturing the growth of youth. There can sometimes be this dichotomy in communities. Youth can feel like elders are no longer willing to push the boundaries or have the energy needed, while elders can feel like youth are not looking at things within a historical context, or are replicating things that people have already tried.

Create opportunities for people to interact and socialize. Give time before, after, or during every event for people to interact and chat about things. If the event is about a heavy or serious topic, give time for people to talk about other things as well. Often times our community social gatherings become places where we are protesting, planning, and working. Allow some time for people to come together to talk about other things that don’t have to do with the violence that we are experiencing and instead make time to focus on the light and love we have for each other. By ensuring we have are able to share these spaces together, we are ensure that we are giving time for people to form lasting bonds that hold our communities together. As stated above the spaces where we come together to pass on stories, histories, experiences, and wisdom that our communities have gathered and kept, that is the space where community is born. And the impact of these social spaces on youth, elders, and everyone in our communities is immeasurable.

Creating a strong, healthy, communities is not something that happens overnight. Let’s work together to create spaces where all members of our communities can come together and share information, stories, and life.