Mining the Gray Heads Yoshida Minosuke, then in his late 80s, would spend hours every day practicing his profession as a Bunraku puppeteer. This is not children’s theatre but a high art and a significant element of Japanese history and culture. Some puppets are life-size, weighing over 60 pounds and requiring three operators to manage one puppet. The head and right arm are animated only by masters like Minosuke, who has spent 20 to 25 years acquiring the ability to emulate life through his art. He is one of Japan’s Living National Treasures.
In 1950, in an effort to preserve and sustain centuries-old art forms and craft techniques, the Japanese government identified those who were masters of a specific art or craft and designated them Bearers of Important Intangible Cultural Assets and Living National Treasures.
Each of those so identified is provided financial support to continue working, with the stipulation that they accept and train an apprentice. In this way the skills, experience and expertise earned from a lifetime of commitment and dedication to an ideal might be preserved.
Old Dogs with New Tricks The Elder Wisdom Circle was founded on the premise that people over 60 have wisdom to impart. The organization is now more than 300 members nationwide and offers advice to thousands who e-mail the group’s website. Many Circle members are computer-savvy seniors in their 60s, 70s and 80s.
The network also taps residents of nursing homes and old-age centers who may not be computer literate. Facilitators meet with groups of these elders, reading aloud letters and taking notes on the combined comments. The group’s advice is later emailed back to the letter writer.
While their advice may not fully acknowledge the complexities of a contemporary landscape, most of the questions are as timeless as compassion and consideration or as current as honesty and loyalty. Those without the advantage of living or available grandparents or parents find the advice from the Elder Wisdom Circle to be both meaningful and substantial.
Waste Not, Want Not While many senior officers of successful organizations may no longer be actively engaged in running the organizations they founded, they are still a significant resource to those with that current responsibility. By creating an opportunity to solicit advice and counsel from those who have been there and done that, many organizations find that new problems are old problems that have been solved before.
At the same time, seniors that have something to say and hold back for fear of rejection or condescension, please speak up! You may discover a new way to be of service to your organization and to yourself.
At Essex Two we recognize that we learn from anyone and everyone. Our job is not to create a culture for an organization or a product but to discover those elements of its corporate personality that may need to be identified and revived. Visit the Essex Two website for case studies that demonstrate our ability to stimulate the success of our clients.
Worth your time: The premier issue of GOOD magazine is on newsstands now. Founder Ben Goldhirsh wrote the publication’s raison d’être:
The world of good is not just for do-gooders anymore. We see a growing number of people tied together not by age, career, background, or circumstance, but by a shared interest. This revolves around a passion for potential mixed with fierce pragmatism and creative engagement. We sum all this up as the sensibility of giving a damn. But to shorten it, let’s call it GOOD. We’re here to push this movement and cover its realization.
For while so much of today’s media is taking up our space, dumbing us down, and impeding our productivity, GOOD exists to add value. So here’s our first issue. We worked hard to give you something that you’ll like. This is just the beginning.
Check it out at goodmagazine.com
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