Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XXI:  Generativity Three: Consecrating, Gathering, Preserving Values, Story-Telling

Essay XXI:  Generativity Three: Consecrating, Gathering, Preserving Values, Story-Telling

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Story-Telling

Ultimately, all of Generativity Three may have something to do with sharing a narrative. This can be done with words, with ceremony, or with acts of gratitude. There are many ways that this eighth act of generativity can be engaged. Certainly, the verbal act of story-telling is one of the oldest and most widely-engaged forms of Generativity Three. Through story-telling we share the history of specific people and events. Through the telling of stories we justify traditions and reinforce values. We inspire, build relationships, and set the stage for other forms of generativity through the stories we tell.  We even seem to build our sense of self through our stories. While our body is continually changing and our life events are often in flux, the stories we tell about ourselves provide continuity-the ongoing sense of self. To paraphrase the words of Gary Lopez (1990): the stories that people tell other people (and themselves) have a way of taking care of them. At an even broader level, one might conclude that the stories we tell in our organizations, communities, and societies provide the fabric of continuity. It seems that organizations, at a fundamental level, are nothing more or less than a series of stories (Bergquist, 1993).

We would like to illustrate this important component of Generativity Three by sharing a couple of our own stories. First, one of us was involved in a verbal history project in the State of Montana. This project concerned the history of homesteading in Montana and other prairie states. Pioneering men and women were provided by the American and Canadian governments with a plot of land in an undeveloped and often inhospitable region of Western Northern America. The land was given to them at no change, but they had to live on it and derive a livelihood or at least sustainable nutrition from the land for a specific period of time. Most of the homesteaders were now growing old or had died, without the stories of their remarkable courage and ingenuity being shared and recorded.

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