The Third Third

Dig In

Earth Day. Let’s call it Earth Week. At the rate Americans have taken up the cause to date, they might have to call it Earth Millenium. Yet, there’s a glimmer of hope, like one of Spring’s awesome, tender green shoots peeking through winter’s thawed out mud. And that hope may well be nurtured by people like us which, The Senior Source ( in Dallas calls “the largest and most socially active age group in the nation.” The Senior Source collaborated with two forward-thinking entities, The Atlantic Philanthropies ( and The Dallas Foundation ( to learn what it might take to engage this demographic resource in community projects going forward, that is, after careers, parenting and now-that-there’s-time. They understood we need more meaning and purpose as civic volunteers than licking envelopes provides. And in the course of their research, they figured out where to find it: in the environment. Already, they report, 40 million Boomers in the U.S. are living “green.” In addition, a third of us volunteer already, and most of us believe we have a responsibility to make the world a better place. And, finally, in Dallas, they said, the environmental movement is poised to be empowered by the perspectives, experience, and expertise of what the Senior Source is calling The Boomer Green Teams. Boomer Green Team projects will be chosen for their potential impact on environmental health and awareness in the City of Dallas. (Indeed, it seems, this could be organized anywhere.) Waste reduction, water quality and use, energy conservation, neighborhood beautification, and clean air are all on the table and volunteers (who will be recruited in the workplace and through a media campaign) will be able to choose which issue(s) they want to tackle. It’s a new model for civic engagement. We’ll try it on in Dallas. And if it fits, we will have the opportunity, as a generation, to leave our mark once again (or, in this case, perhaps, to clean up some of the marks we have made on Mother Earth) – making the most of our time and energy to engage in one of the most consuming challenges of our age. This, to me, is what the third third is all about: the power, the excitement, the call of a cause, the re-thinking of what we should be doing to accommodate the vast potential of what we might do. Kudos to Al Gore, a Boomer himself, for his environmental leadership, and to the commitments of the Atlantic Philanthropies, The Dallas Foundation, and The Senior Source.
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