CoGenerate recently teamed up with Fine Acts, a global creative studio for social impact, to launch an open call for illustrations showing generations working together for change. We’re looking for illustrations that show older and younger people coming together to...
The Latest from CoGenerate
In Georgia, These AmeriCorps Members Are Building Intergenerational Bonds
What is your program called, and how does it work? Ampact Georgia’s Reading Corps & Math Corps places AmeriCorps members of all ages in schools to serve as tutors. Our staff works with schools to identify students in need of tutorial services, assess those...
Seniors in Service Is Bringing AmeriCorps Members of All Ages Together To Tackle Food Insecurity in Tampa Bay
What is your program called, and how does it work? Seniors in Service is bringing members of AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors together to fight food insecurity. They serve together at local pantries that depend on volunteers to provide food for hundreds of families...
A New Conversation About Service That Crosses Generations
Can a single meal begin to bridge divides? Back in January, two major partners in CoGenerate’s work teamed up to find out. On the MLK Day of Service, Generations Over Dinner and AmeriCorps joined with senior living communities across the country to host more than 100...
Maxine Hong Kingston
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014
This acclaimed author helps veterans with PTSD heal through intensive writing and meditation workshops.
I am Maxine Hong Kingston, 74 years of age. I began taking war personally as a child during World War II. My mother was a refugee from China, where she was a medic during the bombing of Canton. Years later, two of my brothers were in the Vietnam War, and one of them returned with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Over time, I became a professor at U.C. Berkeley and authored nine books, including The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Amongst Ghosts , but the problem of war stayed with me. I wanted peace for my loved ones, and for the world.
In my birthday month, October of 1991, I lost my father, then my house and neighborhood, and my novel-in-progress, in the Berkeley/Oakland firestorm. My trauma was such that I lost my ability to read. I needed a shout-out, ‘Encore!’ – or ‘Hana hou!’ as we say in Hawai’i.A phoenix of an idea came to me:Gather around me veterans, who have been through fire, and let’s write together.Write our way home.Write Peace.
800 veterans have participated in 21 years
A 600-page anthology, entitled Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, showcases the prose and poetry of 80 veterans
During two decades, veterans of many wars answered my call – mostly veterans of Vietnam, but also of World War II, Israel, the Persian Gulf, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and now Iraq and Afghanistan. There are ‘veterans’ of Tiananmen Square and Philadelphia’s MOVE raid and bombing, and an uprising in Malaysia. Survivors of gang violence also came, identifying themselves as veterans, as did widows and children of soldiers, as well as peace activists. More than 800 people have participated.
For wont of a name, the veterans call our community The Veteran Writers Group. We have no formal organization; veterans prefer being underground. My hope is that with a calming practice and artistic expression, veterans can find peace and relief.
Unlike hour-long classes or therapy sessions, our group stays together all day, and sometimes through the night. A volunteer will teach a theme, lead meditations, establish silence for writing, hold space for everyone to read, chair discussions and host the breaking of bread.
The most important goal of this project is to build community, what Martin Luther King, Jr., called ‘the beloved community,’ and Buddhists call ‘sangha.’ The veterans come out of the isolation of PTSD – out of lonely apartments, out of the bush, off of the homeless streets.
I retired from U.C. Berkeley at the age of 65, but there is no retiring from the social good that it behooves each of us to do in this world.I am Buddhist, and take this vow seriously:’However innumerable the sentient beings, I vow to save them all.’So I have made a comeback – an encore.I am doing my life’s work.