Generation Without Boundaries

One of the many reasons I’m optimistic about the future is because we will soon be led by the first generation without boundaries.

This generation is transcending traditional boundaries and shattering artificial borders. They are shaking things up and making dynamic what has become static. They are changing the way we change the world.

The best of them:

  • See the link between local behaviour and global challenges. Example: Me to We.  
  • Link their souls and their strategies. Example: Great Bear Rainforest campaign
  • Make connections among seemingly disparate problems such as climate change, temperature fluctuations, soil erosion, transportation costs, food prices, hunger, debt and poverty. Example: One Earth  
  • Are agnostic about which sector they choose to advance a more just world – if necessary they will mash it up and create a hybrid of traditional sectors. Example: Institute Without Boundaries
  • Rise above marginalization as a special interest group. Example: Think Jar Collective
  • Help us experience the world we desire rather than just describing it. Thus the infusion of peace, art and play into movements like Idle No More and Les Casseroles (Montrealers banging pots and pans in support of student strike)
  • Combine innovation with tradition. Example: Gen Why Media

It has taken many of us decades to look beyond the boundaries we were born into and to realize we can, and perhaps must, span the structures we inhabit if we want to create a world where everyone belongs and where everyone’s contribution is welcomed.

Yes, the generation without boundaries will make mistakes. This are inevitable as they venture into the unknown where structures collapse and categories become ambiguous. However, it’s hard to imagine their mistakes being any worse than those of previous generations. And surely none are as great as the suffocating parameters that defined our relationships with each other.


It is time for us to rethink the idea of citizenship, to reconceive the structures of political commitment and membership against the background of our shape-shifting world.

     From The World We Want by Mark Kingwell

It’s taken miles to make it here

And in the end it seems so clear

We are, We are all running, We are all running

the same race

We are, We are all going, We are all going to the same place.

     We Are All Running by Newfoundland’s The Once. Listen here


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  1. Susan Szpakowski

    Thanks for the link to We Are All Running, such a beautifully evocative song that now accompanies a slideshow for our Stepping Up conference in Nova Scotia. People from around the province sent in photos showing how they were “taking charge of their future” and this became the backdrop for the opening of a one-day forum, which took place June 16 in 11 communities simultaneously….each with its own organizing team, partners, etc. See the slideshow here:

    This event can be traced back to the SiG visit to Nova Scotia three years ago, when you probably remember we spent a day with Nova Scotian leaders and change-makers introducing the idea of social innovation. Danny Graham and others of us have continued to fan that spark, which led to Engage Nova Scotia and now the Stepping Up conference, convened with partners from the business and community sectors. So thanks too for helping to create that first spark, and for continuing to nurture and inspire this work from the Pacific Coast.

    Perhaps we’ll see you and Vickie on the east coast one of these days. That would be great. Best wishes to you, Susan.

    • Al Etmanski

      Nice to hear from you Susan. And congratulations to you, Danny and so many other creative folks in Nova Scotia – Canada’s creative playyard!

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