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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Senior Sage Leaders

Unlike their Emerging Sage counterparts, most Senior Sage leaders are either fully or partly retired, so their favored civic organizations are largely outside the workplace. They tend to be in nonprofit organizations, fraternal and service clubs, and business and religious organizations.

Civic engagement in organizations that serve youth are particularly compelling and gratifying for many Senior Sage leaders. Often they do this for their own children who are now parents, and that bridge across three generations is critical for the community’s vitality because it keeps Grass Valley and Nevada City from “becoming an old folks community” — or what Robert Bellah and his colleagues (1985) call “lifestyle enclaves” that can derail our American democratic experience.

Most communities have service organizations like Rotary and distinctive nonprofit organizations like Music in the Mountains and the United Way. Grass Valley and Nevada City are blessed to have a third type of organization: The Center for Nonprofit Leadership (CNL). CNL sponsors nonprofit leadership seminars and offers best practice workshops and forums that help to strengthen and advance 66 nonprofit member organizations that take advantage of its services. This third, meta-level type of organization is rarely found in most communities, and we believe it is critical to fostering and promoting senior-level sage engagement.

Community Leadership: Diversity and Nimbleness of the Heart

Most Senior Sages are able to identify a litany of nonprofit organizations in which they are actively engaged; on average, each is involved in at least three, ranging from political action groups to arts organizations and from work with youth to work with the elderly. Senior Sage leaders are also involved in multiple sectors of community life. Lessons learned in one (e.g., the arts) are applied to a second (e.g., the environment) and to a third (e.g., politics), and the networks established with one are engaged on behalf of the others.

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