How we talk about this matters. Think of the language of “generational warfare” we hear so often in the news—our vocabulary shapes our thinking toward conflict or toward solution. We need new words for new realities.
Our Work: We are researching, developing, and testing a positive message frame that unites diverse efforts for age, racial, and political equity and opportunity. Once we’ve got it right, we will we will work to get this frame widely adopted by key leaders.
Demographic change is public and political, but it is also private and personal. It is negotiated in people’s daily lives when they meet in the supermarket or in the classroom, and these personal experiences inform how we behave and vote. We need to understand: What is the impact of population size? Does it matter if the increasing diversity comes from the immigration of just one new racial group, or several? What affects how oldtimers respond to newcomers? And what strategies are communities already using to capitalize on demographic change as an asset? At the end of 2013, we will synthesize these insights into a framework for action.
Our Work: In 2013, we will interview community and civic leaders from communities across the country that are experiencing significant demographic change to understand how they are responding and what variations in their experiences seem to matter. In early 2014, we will host a national conference for participating cities and national leaders. This research will lay the foundation for the creation of a Community Learning & Action Network of up to 20 communities where participants meet regularly to share experiences and build action plans. The new network will develop the capacities of diverse leaders and coalitions, build proactive strategies, share resources, and establish metrics for measuring effectiveness.