By Mia McQueen and Sabrina Slagowski-Tipton
In 2020, the Center for Public Deliberation, housed in the Department of Communication Studies at CSU, started work on an innovative event that would bring seven generations of women together in conversation about their lives. The event, titled genHERous: Intergenerational Conversations among Women, was hosted on Zoom earlier this month.
Lessons from the past
The concept for “genHERous” was born from a chance conversation among women. On the last day of a democracy conference at Tufts University, a group of women including President of Meetings that Matter Barbara Simonetti gathered to have a conversation about women’s issues.
“What followed actually changed my life,” said Simonetti.
The discussion revealed the unifying life experiences unique to women, and motivated Simonetti to interview younger women within her community. She discovered that the issues women face transcend generations, and concluded that women today often don’t see the similarities of their struggles or benefit from the lessons of previous generations because we are generationally separated.
Simonetti thought back to the progress made by her own generation of women in the 1970s and 1980s. “We did it all by talking and listening to each other, by supporting each other, and by being supported and mentored by the women of other generations,” she said. She created genHERous “…so we could build connections within and across generations, better know each other, nurture each other, support and enjoy each other.”
Barbara Simonetti opened the 2022 genHERous event. Listen to her introductory remarks above.
A new CSU tradition
With an intergenerational team of women and numerous community collaborators, the CPD hosted the first local genHERous conversation in October 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and community-wide lockdowns. Due to the success of the first event, the CPD and the Partnership for Age Friendly Communities in Fort Collins committed to making this an annual tradition.
The second genHERous event was held on Saturday, March 5, 2022, and again, seven generations of women joined together in conversation to talk about their lives, share advice, and work together to build intergenerational connections with one another.
Facilitated by female students of the CPD, the event opened the door for conversation in two sessions.
- The first session allowed for participants of the same generation to reflect on their experiences as women. They discussed what life was like for them from childhood through adulthood, talking about their hopes and dreams, their influences, and how their lives progressed.
- In the second session, women of various generations were brought together to discuss the similarities and differences of their experiences.
After learning from each other and sharing advice, participants described how these discussions left them feeling more connected, understood, and optimistic for the future of women everywhere.
“My biggest blessing this past decade has been gaining an amazing group of strong, confident women as close friends,” said Janae Malpas, a participant from this year’s genHERous event. “I wish everyone could have empowering women in their lives, which is why I support genHERous’ mission. What makes genHERous particularly special is being able to cross multigenerational boundaries to bridge that connection and discover that we’re stronger together.”
To learn more about the Center for Public Deliberation and subscribe to be alerted about future genHERous events, visit cpd.colostate.edu.