Young and Old (YO) Mixer – YOmixer.com
The Netflix series “Stories of a Generation With Pope Francis,” (trailer) began streaming on Christmas Day, 2021. In the documentary series, Pope Francis says, “I think that, today, it is important that for the future of mankind young people talk to old people.”
The series inspired this multi-generation Young and Old “YO” Mixer event concept. The Pope’s message is a singularly simple and achievable call to action. The YO MIXER is in its simplest form a multi-generation party with food, drinks, and fun. The Social Protocols outlined below make this concept a little bit different from other events. The initial idea came from Charlie Szoradi, who watched the Stories of a Generation series between Christmas and New Years 2021. Charlie has a 12 year old daughter and 16 year old son, and they in conjunction with other family and friends have helped refine the concept outlined here.
The Event Name and Graphic:
The graphic “logo” for the event includes the circle of the “O” around the “Y” to symbolize the importance of parents surrounding their children with unconditional love, affection, and communications. The blue and green of the sphere represent the earth that holds and nourishes us all. The light source that is between the outstretched arms of the Y reflects the light of inspiration that energizes us with a love of learning and community participation.
Proof of Concept:
On Christmas Eve 2021, Charlie was at a cocktail party, hosted by a great friend, who he has know from fourth grade. He lives in Washington, DC, where Charlie grew up so it was a treat for Charlie to drive down from Philly for the event and also spend Christmas with his mother and other family friends. In preparing this mixer idea, it dawned on him that it was so fun at the cocktail party to catch up with his friend’s mother and also another friend’s father, who are both now over 75 years old. The ease of their conversations came in part from having connected with them at multi-generational social events way back when Charlie was in grade school and high school in the 1970s and 80s. Charlie thought that it would be great for his children to have the same positive experience…four decades from now.
One of Charlie’s high school friends has added to this concept the following. She eloquently wrote, “I love the idea, and it’s kind of sad that this sort of interaction doesn’t happen organically like it did in human history until around 2000 (beginning of “digital” social media). There is a broad cultural need for intergenerational exchange, interaction, connection, and bonding that all human cultures have organically incorporated into their societies until very recently. We know through science now that social connections make us happy, increase longevity (Blue Zones), reduce anxiety and depression, and improve overall health. It makes life richer and more meaningful – things that are disappearing in our instant gratification, blurb-focused, transactional culture. These type of YOmixer events can help re-establish and hone the disappearing skills of listening, and the art of conversation with equal give-and-take in a natural flow of topics and stories, resulting in connecting on a more intimate and personal level. I know many of us remember with deep fondness laughing hilariously in multi-generational groups at a dinner table, a sports event, a cocktail party, or on the beach. Inspiration has also come from listening to someone else’s personal experience or wisdom imparted no matter our age. Mentors are disappearing from our culture, but younger people need to feel someone older is watching out for them, has their backs, and are there as a sounding board when they need it. Older generations can feel like they are giving back and supporting the future generations in a meaningful way, and feel proud of sharing life stories and lessons. This is the Elder Great Gift to be bestowed, and the loss of this would be tragic.”
Please keep in mind that this event is a party FIRST. The intent is for everyone to have fun, laugh, and enjoy the food and drinks. The secondary intent is to create a springboard for the multi-generational communications. The protocol has multiple parts:
#1: No Phones. Sometimes kids get sucked into their screens, and this event idea includes a “No Screen Zone” where everyone, including parents have to leave their phones in their pockets or bags. Some of the adult invited guests may not have children, and they are equally important of the event, but also restricted from using their phones. I expect to host the event from about 6 to 8 pm, and I think we can all make it two hours without using our phones.
#2: The 3 x 10 Rule
Each of the school age children under the age of 18 should try to spend at least 10 minutes speaking to at least 3 adults, who they have not previously met. Equally, each adult should try to spend at least 10 minutes speaking to at least 3 students, who they have not met before. The goal of multi-generational interaction is also to limit conversations that are among guests of just one generation, and possibly discourage groups of more than 6, as some people may tend to dominate the conversation. Larger groups may inevitably form, which is totally okay, but the goal is to have as many one-on-one discussions as possible.
Some people are not as good at remembering names than others. So, YOmixer includes “HELLO” name tags, which are readily available at office supply stores. The name tags also provide a place to add a bit of personal information as a conversation starter. For instance, the name of the students school or something like a favorite country that you have visited or want to visit.
#3: Brain Prep
Don’t come empty handed in your noggin. Adults are requested to bring a funny or embarrassing story from their time in high school to share in conversations. This can also include things that drove them crazy by their parents. Students are requested to bring at least one brain teaser riddle to test the mental fortitude and savvy of the adults. All are welcomed to bring favorite jokes, so long as they are tasteful and not offensive in any way.
The Steering Committee will select the music and create a playlist. The SC will consist of four adults and four students. The playlist will run on shuffle and consist of music from the parent’s generation (in my case some classic rock, punk, and maybe some disco thrown in), and the student music choices will include music from 2015 to present. In advance of the event, guests are invited to submit songs for inclusion in the event playlist.
#5: Party Gifts
It’s always fun to get gifts as well as give gifts. If you are hosting an event you could give a few T-Shirts with the “YO” MIXER graphic, perhaps via a free raffle. We found a printer that has shirts made from recycled plastic bottles and recycled cotton. So, the apparel is eco-friendly and in line with a growing focus on sustainability, which is important to the Young and Old when it comes to environmental stewardship. We have included the link to learn more about the apparel and Order T-Shirts. For the Philadelphia Area event, Charlie is going to give away shirts as well as give guests signed copies of his Learn from Looking book on sustainability.
YO MIXER EVEN INFO in Philadelphia
Steering Committee: TBD (I have some people in mind) to help with finalizing the guest list and logistics.
WHEN: The pilot kick off event includes an invitation list of Charlie’s friends on date (TBD) in February 2022, to help bridge the gap to other summer events.
WHERE: Charlie is hosting the event at the location profiled in the photos below. The location at his residence, outside of Philadelphia, has many features for year-round activities. If the first event goes well, then he intends to host more across the year and subsequent years.
The Café (top photo) has a capacity of 50 people, which is the target size of the event.
The outdoor swimming pool courtyard includes a fire pit lounge as well as a bocce ball court, billiards and ping pong.
The Theater, which seats 29 may be useful down the road, given that many of the students may not have seen some of the “classics” from the 1980s on their Netflix accounts.
Beverages: Wine, beer, and cocktails will be served for the adults, as well as juice and multiple water choices options for all those under the age of 21. Students should not count on or expect any White Claw Hard Cider or any Beer Pong for this particular function.
This YO Mixer may appear more complicated than it is, given that it is really just a party with kids and adults talking to each other, and no phones. The social protocols are a means to increase the odds of success.