Advance Performance | Paying Forward Skills And Knowledge To Empower The Next Generation
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Paying Forward Skills And Knowledge To Empower The Next Generation

Paying Forward Skills And Knowledge To Empower The Next Generation

In our fast-paced and ever-changing society we embrace the technological developments almost on a daily basis. We need to adapt to learn new skills, gain knowledge to adapt in our work place and home life or we can easily be left behind.

However, the traditional skills, knowledge and language shared by older generations are being lost as many people do not have the time (or patience) to learn from those with a lifetime of experience. The following two projects show that film and social media can be utilised to share the skills and indigenous language of older communities so that these cultures can be learned and revitalised among the younger generations.

Vicki Bennison, who has worked in international development and writes cookery books and articles, is the founder of the Pasta Grannies project. She has visited almost 200 different Italian Nonnas in their own kitchens and makes videos of them making their local pasta and cooking their recipes which she uploads the videos to her Pasta Grannies Youtube channel. Each of these specialised recipes has the potential to reach her 320,000 subscribers therefore ensuring these rare pastas and recipes are preserved.

While Vicki was researching for an Italian cook book, she discovered the traditional and local recipes and decades-old skills are disappearing as the domestic skills are not being passed down to the next generations. Although pasta continues to be one of the staple foods in the Western world, and Italian restaurants and meals are popular, Italian food has become increasingly commercialised through large-scale factory production.

One participant is 95 year old Giuseppa Porcu, who continues to make her own pasta ‘maccarones di ungia‘ in the traditional way by hand. As Vicki says: “She’s bright as button, still living independently in a large house subdivided into apartments for other family members. She cooks every day for herself and her younger brother.”

In 2017, two film makers set out to create the first feature film made entirely in the Haida language — a critically endangered language spoken fluently by only 24 people in the world. Co-directed by Haida filmmaker Gwaai Edenshaw and Tsilhqot’in filmmaker Helen Haig-Brown, and including a number of the Haida community in the cast, Edge of the Knife’s actors and crew underwent two weeks of intense training and workshops to learn the Haida language so that it could be presented as authentically as possible on film.

The feature film Sgaaway K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), which had its premiere at thisToronto International Film Festival this week, retells a classic Haida story, of a man who becomes lost in the forest and experiences the transformation into a Gaagiid/Gaagiixiid — the legendary Haida Wildman.It shows that cinema can be a powerful means to share traditional and rare stories, to introduce cinema goers to indigenous languages and culture revitalization. The film makers have ensured that this rare language, its stories and culture can be shared to wider audiences, and be preserved for further generations.

What can we learn from these 2 projects and how can we adapt the ideas to our own working lives?

If we don’t share our skills and knowledge, they will be lost. By sharing our skillset and experience we can empower others to learn and develop themselves, and also spark ideas for us to improve.

By mentoring the next generation we can pay forward knowledge, skills, culture, values and experience which they can adapt and build on within their role and the company.
We can become mentors, provide resources (such as podcasts or videos), write articles, share in network events, train our peers, and actively discuss sharing and utilising each other’s knowledge and skills to be a part of a team and company culture.

By sharing knowledge and skills with our peers, they can pay them forward in turn to maintain a chain to create a valuable culture of shared knowledge, skills and experience for the future.