Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XXII:  Generativity Four—The Varieties of Civic Engagement

Essay XXII:  Generativity Four—The Varieties of Civic Engagement

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Emerging Sage Leaders

There are many ways in which Generativity Four plays out in civic life. We found through our 100 Sage leader interviews that most of our leaders had one “pet” project, although many are involved in other activities as well. We also found there were significant differences in the challenges faced by our Emerging and Senior Sage leaders regarding how they manage their civic engagements. Unlike the Senior Sage leaders, most Emerging Sages are still working full-time and have major family responsibilities. Their generative civic engagements take place, at least in part, through their formal job in government or in nonprofit human service agencies. There is much more to the story, however, when it comes to the involvements of these Emerging Sages in the community life of Grass Valley and Nevada City. They often are engaged in volunteer activities above and beyond their job—ranging from equine rescue to Rotary to Nevada County Arts. In most cases, the Emerging Sage leaders are involved in at least three different community-based organizations—and only one of these is a formal paid position. What these relatively young men and women have in common is their exceptional level of energy and their sustained commitment to all the civic activities in which they are engaged. They truly exemplify Generativity Four.

Passion and Commitment

So, what drives these busy men and women to do all this community service work? One great passion shared by many of the Emerging Sages is the natural environment. Even more than Senior Sage leaders, the Emerging Sages believe that preservation and restoration of the beautiful physical environment is critical to community life. In this way, they bridge Generativity Three and Generativity Four. The Emerging Sage leaders also consistently exhibit a passion for formal civic leadership; they have run for public office and serve on community boards, and they express interest in the outcomes of government as well as its structures and operations. Unlike many of the Senior Sage leaders, these young men and women believe that something of value can be achieved through public office and effective public policy. They devote themselves not just to nonprofit initiatives but also to public ventures.

A Supportive Environment

In most cases, the typical Emerging Sage leader has a supportive spouse who fully appreciates the community work the leader is doing—and may even be involved in comparable civic activities themselves. For many of the Emerging female Sages, there is a “significant other” in their lives who at least some of the time is the primary family caregiver. Children are additional sources of support and encouragement, especially when they enter adolescence.

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