On The Importance of Having Friends of All Ages – Part I

One of the things that I have become aware of recently is just how important it is to have friends of all ages. When you are younger, the experience of older friends can help you navigate the bumps along the way. When you are older, your experiences can help your younger friends, and their experiences can bring the excitement of new ideas and challenges into your life.

Eleven years ago when I was 65 and my then partner was 56 we started a Permaculture center near Durango, Colorado. As we were beginning to build the 2200 sq.ft. greenhouse, we started down the traditional path of doing it ourselves with some help from knowledgeable friends and some paid help. That did get things started, but we soon realized that there was no way we would be able to get the greenhouse closed in before the snow came. A friend and board member of our Permaculture center suggested that we contact the environmental center at Fort Lewis College (FLC). We spoke with the director of the center, and he was excited about being involved in something so interesting. Ten days later some 30 FLC students appeared on a sunny October Saturday along with an instructor from Habitat for Humanity to organize them. That day we made significant progress. But more importantly we connected with each of the students, and for the next ten weekends, we had 4-6 or more students show up ever Saturday and Sunday, and by the first weekend in December, the greenhouse was all closed up for the winter. The next spring, two of those students volunteered to complete the masonry for the pond in the middle of the greenhouse.

Over the years since then, we have had a number of unexpected visits from students who worked on the greenhouse who were just passing through and wanted to see how it was going. It was exciting for us to catch up with them on where their lives were going, and they were just as interested in seeing how things in our mostly solar heated greenhouse were growing and going.