Bridging Generations: 2nd Annual Intergenerational Forum to be held March 7
One of Fred Danziger’s few regrets is that he didn’t spend more time with his grandfather when he had the chance. Looking back, he wishes he had asked his grandfather questions about what it was like growing up in late 19th century Russia. Those lost moments have served as inspiration for Danziger in spearheading the founding of the Daniel Island Intergenerational Forum (IGF), sponsored by The Daniel Island News with support from the Daniel Island Community Fund.
This year’s IGF, the second, will be held on March 7, starting at 7 p.m. at the Bishop England High School Performing Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public.
After his men’s group wondered if there was any good news in the world today, Danziger asked himself, “What would happen if we asked the younger generation the same question.” He realized that his worldview was deeply affected by his upbringing and might be completely different if he had grown up today. He wondered what would happen if he put a few select students and seniors in the same room. He then formed a committee to make the idea a reality.
Danziger says he owes a lot of gratitude to Daniel Island News Publisher Sue Detar, whose early embrace of the concept made the forum possible. Detar had a lot of interaction with the elders in her family growing up and wishes her children had lived closer to their grandparents. She thought there must be a lot of people on Daniel Island with the same experience.
“I felt it was important for seniors and students to interact,” she says.
This year’s forum will bring together four senior citizens and four senior high school students. The students will have an opportunity to compete for varying levels of grant funding as part of the program. Grants will range from $125 to $1000. The student participants are Max Bodach of Bishop England High School, Trent Pagliarini of Hanahan High School, Lia Hsu-Rodriguez of Wando High School, and Autumn Turner of Palmetto Scholars Academy.
The senior citizen side of the panel will feature Bill Payer, Tom Pinckney, Bob Sauer, and Carl Stoll. Serving as judges for this year’s event will be Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association; Anthony Dixon, principal at Philip Simmons Middle School; and Kate Jerome, award-winning author, publishing executive, intergenerational expert, and 2016 TedX Charleston speaker.
This second edition of the forum will reflect some lessons learned from last year’s program. Ron Silverman, a member of Danziger’s men’s group who also serves on the IGF committee says, “Our First Annual Intergenerational Forum held in 2016 was a great success, according to the feedback we got from the attendees.”
Expecting a one or two percent response to a post-event survey, Danziger was surprised to receive 51 completed forms from an audience of 109. He was also encouraged by the civility and mutual respect all participants had for each other. Senior participants mingled with the students and their families after the event.
“The Second Annual IGF stacks up to be head and shoulders better,” Silverman continues. “We took many of the suggestions from last year and incorporated them into this year’s format. There will only be three major issues to be discussed so that the panel can have adequate time to explore each one. And, there will be time for open discussion by panelists to get plenty of back and forth opinions from each generation.”
The topics to be discussed this year by participants are civility, digital technology’s effect on relationships, and how to contend with undocumented immigrants.
“I think the three issues on the table for discussion are so important and germane to what is going on in our country today, that it will make for an extremely interesting forum,” adds Silverman.
He also believes that this event belongs on Daniel Island.
“A unique set of circumstances makes Daniel Island the ideal venue for the Forum” says Silverman. “First and foremost is the support of our island’s own newspaper, The Daniel Island News, which is the sponsor of this event. Both Sue Detar, publisher, and Beth Bush, editor, are part of the organizing committee for the forum. Further, our Daniel Island Community Fund has provided support. Then there is our island’s high school, Bishop England, which offered their Performing Arts Center to host the event. And finally, our island’s residents make this an ideal venue for the forum. We are a diverse lot, gathered here from many parts of the country because of our island community concept and the island’s natural beauty, the type of resident community most likely to be receptive to an event whose purpose is to promote understanding and the better good.”
Events like these serve a very important function in fostering interaction between the two groups, adds Danziger.
“Elders are concerned with eulogy virtues, what people will say about their lives when they die,” he says. “Young people are primarily involved with resume virtues -- what they are doing and where they are going. The true importance of the generational divide is that to have a balanced life, you need both. Interaction with younger people can remind seniors that they still have things to accomplish, and can prompt younger people to invest in more durable and compassionate values.”