Pollinating Generations

Our intergenerational process promotes dialogue between youth and elders. Canadian organic farmer Dianne has shared her knowledge with six young farmers in our exchange, including her son Dan. Mexico-based Fulvio has been mentoring his sons Bryan and Jorge in agroecological practices. Fulvio’s daughter Serena and son-in-law Miguel have visited two Canadian farms, where their five-year-old daughter Lindsay learned to weed a garden. Our three gatherings of all collaborators have been family friendly: Anna and Adam brought their three kids to Six Nations, while Leticia came with her daughter Abena; they were cared for by Chandra and Rick’s daughters.

Lauren with Amelia (Anna and Adam’s daughter) and Abena (Leticia’s daughter)
Dianne with her son Dan

While we produced multimedia tools to communicate to a broader public and particularly to youth, we experienced intergenerational tensions around the digital gap among collaborators. Everyone has their own preferred mode of communication. An elder partner prefers a landline telephone with no answering machine to speak with those who mainly communicate via Facebook or WhatsApp. Partners include those who prefer text messages over email to rural Mexicans who have spotty internet service. Nonetheless, we have managed to bring some folks into conversations via FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype, one of the most interesting between Chandra and Ryan speaking Mohawk over Skype!

The intergenerational learning around technology has definitely been a two-way process. For example, within the production team, Alex, my younger co-director, taught me many new technical skills: from framing video shots and recording good sound, to editing websites and creating hyperlinks. She also mentored other young people in the families we visited. And we both would sometimes pass the camera to an eager grandchild or aspiring young photographer.

Whether in the field or kitchen, intergenerational teaching and learning goes both ways. Ryan taught his mentor Dianne the Haudenosaunee skills of braiding corn and making corn soup.