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Building a 7-generation community in Markham

Building a 7-generation community in Markham

Markham students – submit your stories to the 7-generation initiative –  YFile
Jose Etcheverry

What really matters to you? This is the question that 7-generation Markham is trying to address to co-create the first 7-Generation City learning from the past and looking to the future to thrive in the present.

EUC Professor José Etcheverry is leading York University’s engagement in this multi-stakeholder project seeking to re-examine community through intergenerational dialogue.

“These are uncertain times as the world has been faced with a pandemic and a climate emergency. This project seeks to make new sense, to act in ways that create hope and actions that support personal, family and community well-being,” says Etcheverry.

The 7-Generation initiative in Markham, is a community sense-making collaboration between York University, the City of Markham, Markham Public Library, Social Services Network, and the Legacy Project. York University is a community partner of the Legacy Project (LP). Founded in 2000 by Susan V. Bosak, the project is an independent research, education, and social innovation group drawing on multidisciplinary research in the natural and social sciences. Based at The Cedars, a 100-acre of environmentally protected land in Toronto, Canada, the project does community work in Canada and the US, reaching people of all ages around the world. The 7-Generation initiative is rooted in an Indigenous concept of long-term thinking across seven generations, while at the same time reflects the modern context of a historic demographic shift to more living generations.

Community-based project in Markham

Brian Puppa, Legacy Project Executive Director, noted that the 7-generation community initiative, dubbed YOU 177 which stands for Young and Old United in 1 world with more than 7 billion people across 7 generations, began in a very practical way in the Toronto area with youth and older adults starting community-based projects to plant trees, encourage people to decrease their carbon footprint, as well as do energy retrofits to their homes, among other initiatives.

“Seventh generation Markham is a whole community initiative -- it's interconnecting across silos and issues including the biggest one - climate change,” notes Puppa. "The Seven Generation work goes beyond simple singular solutions to nourishing a fertile solutionscape -- an ecology of intentional and serendipitous actions emerging from deep diverse relationships across generation that grow into neighbourhood networks of care with real and practical consequences. When people feel cared about and have trust, they are more likely to not only act but act for collective benefit,” he explains.


Through 7-Generation Markham, generations, together with community leaders, are exploring and taking action around seven broad themes: 1) Environment and Climate Change (view a presentation to the Markham Environmental Advisory Committee and check out the Climate Solutions Park); 2) Economy; 3) Education and Lifelong Learning; 4) Health (see new social prescribing opportunity); 5) Community; 6) Life Course and Aging (get started with Listen to a Life Contest); and 7) Indigenous Worldviews/Knowledge.

The Project’s 7-Generation work, starting in Markham, involves bringing together young people and older adults to enrich each other’s lives as well as to make a difference in their community. The ultimate goal of the 7-Generation work is systems innovation that interconnects and addresses multiple issues simultaneously – ranging from the well-being, empowerment, lifelong learning and social inclusion of older adults to children’s mental health, learning, belonging and well-being to generational issues like social cohesion, equity, and climate change.

Research/evaluation, experiential learning, and community engagement in Markham

The Legacy Project is a social venture focused on research, education, and social innovation. Since 2000, it has worked with children, youth, adults, elders, schools, libraries, organizations and communities across Canada and the United States. Its work connects the dots between psychosocial, economic, and ecological well-being, pioneering 7-Generation Strategy. The Project supports York’s goals of creating positive change in Markham and building a more just and sustainable world.

York supports the research/evaluation, education, and community engagement around the 7-Generation work. Graduate students, namely MES alumna and currently PhD Education student Nitima Bhatia and MES student Codrina Ibanescu are involved in the Collective Impact Initiative as community guides. As the Project is multi-solving a wide range of community issues and connecting with global issues like climate change, other faculty and students are expected to potentially become involved in other parts of the Project as it evolves.

Jose Etcheverry is EUC Associate Professor, Co-Chair of the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) and Director of the International Renewable Energy Academy (IREA). His work focuses on developing practical policy solutions to climate change through collaborative efforts with various partners and stakeholders. His research and teaching center on climate change mitigation strategies, storage solutions for renewable energy, transportation and renewable energy, and sustainable energy development at York University. Since COVID-19, Etcheverry has been working towards developing outdoor protocols to teach work-integrated learning focused on practical climate solutions. His recent Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada) project supports York University’s 4REAL (4th Renewable Energy & Agricultural Learning) project.