Home Concepts Adult Development The Big Picture, Civic Engagement and Generativity Four

The Big Picture, Civic Engagement and Generativity Four

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Often these reticent leaders may not have had a history of public service in their own families of origin. That might make sense if it were not for the fact that many of the project’s Sage leaders also had no tradition of civic engagement in their early lives; their parents were farmers who lived a long way from town, or they grew-up in economically challenged families that had no discretionary time for anything but income-generating work. Somehow these Sage leaders learned the value of civic engagement without having had parental role models. It is interesting to muse about why and how these men and women discovered the benefits of voluntary service to their community. It is also of value to muse about how a Re-Engagement coach might set up shop in a community such as Grass Valley or Nevada City in order to bring about expanded community engagement in this engagement. An organization should as the Center for Nonprofit Leadership might be established to help promote this coaching services.

Perhaps it is not so simple. The lack of civic involvement on the part of some reticent leaders might be a matter of priorities. Other things going on in the lives of uninvolved members of a community are deemed more important. This doesn’t make them selfish human beings; however, a lack of motivating experiences does make them less inclined to serve other people and therefore more difficult to interest in things civic. As one Senior Sage observes, “It may be essential to get involved in civic activities right after moving here, and this involvement should not be short-term or superficial.” The lesson: If you are just pouring drinks at a Music in the Mountains event, this might not be enough to motivate significant community involvement—and not enough to yield the tangible benefits of civic engagement. On the other hand, small investments of time and energy may, in fact, eventually lead to something bigger. The question of most viable pathways to civic engagement remains open.


There are many questions and few answers about why men and women who possess Sage leadership qualities are not civically involved in Western Nevada County—and about the choice between generativity and stagnation. While we can’t provide definitive answers regarding civic involvement, we don’t want to sidestep the fundamental question: generativity or stagnation?

We conclude this series of essays by addressing this question. In our sixth essay we ask a particularly challenging question that has implications for the introduction of spirituality into the coaching enterprise (Bergquist, 2023a; Bergquist, 2023b).  Does the choice between generativity and stagnation relate in some way to the absence or avoidance of soul and spirit? Do we escape from civic involvement and possibly all other forms of generative engagement because, in some sense, we are afraid of our own soulful and spiritual awakening? These are the difficult and often elusive questions we address in the final essay in this series. The answers to these questions perhaps tell us something about the wellspring of deep caring and generativity in all its enactments.


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