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In Mississippi, a twelve-year old son of a single mother comes to understand freedom through the eyes of a 114 year-old daughter of a former slave. In New York, a sixteen year-old dancer is inspired to perform by a 90 year-old Ziegfeld girl. In San Jose, an orphan appreciates family by connecting with a band of brothers from World War II.
Connections like these are the promise of Earth’s Elders.
The importance of intergenerational connections seems intuitive. Yet while other cultures and countries cherish such interaction, we in this county have come to marginalize it.
Earth's Elders is a non-profit educational organization committed to improving the lives of the youngest and eldest among us by bringing them together.
Jerry Friedman, photographer, author and founder of Earth's Elders, spent four years on a landmark project to introduce the world to the sixty oldest people on earth. Using his lens to capture a community that has never before been documented, the award-winning photographer has shed new light on the "invisible" world of people 110 years and older.
With each visit on his globetrotting journey to capture the lives of these "super centenarians," Friedman gained a deeper understanding of what the elderly in every culture have to offer. Inspired by the opportunity to improve the quality of life of the elderly, to teach children to recognize the wisdom and value of the elderly as essential parts of our society, and to improve the health of our communities through intergenerational tolerance and communication, Friedman created Earth’s Elders.
The organization began with a touring photography exhibit that has graced the halls of the United Nations and now the rotunda of the U.S. Congress. Together with a companion book, it has raised awareness of the rich lives that our elders are living and the wisdom they have to share with the rest of us. The insights gained were then translated into a curriculum by Columbia University’s Bank Street College and has subsequently been taught to thousands of students throughout the country.
© 2009 Earth's Elders