By Ron Hall/Editor-in-Chief
Historian and demographer Neil Howe wrote a book in 1997, The Fourth Turning, predicting with startling accuracy, the differences between generations. He breaks generations into 20-year periods. Each generation is much different than the preceding several generations, but acquires many of the characteristics of the generation that preceded it by 80 years.
I got to thinking about this after reading Howe’s short commencement address delivered this past May 12 at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
Was he suggesting that the Millennial Generation, his audiencet at Mary Washington, will be more like the WWII "Greatest Generation" than to Boomers and Gen’xers?
"Youth . . . is just an age bracket," said Howe. "It’s like an empty hotel room that different generations move into with their own baggage, and then soon leave. Sometimes that room swells with sweet music, sometimes it throbs with death metal, and sometimes it’s utterly silent. But it’s never the same."
The message he shared with the Mary Washington grads reassured me that we’re still going in the right direction. That we’re destined to do yet greater things.
He told the graduates that each generation, in ways not immediately apparent and in its own fashion, finds ways to fix problems created by the previous generation and move progress ahead. Each generation sees things much differently than the previous generation.
I see the same thing happening in our landscape/lawn service industry. The Generation Xers now such a big part of our industry and the Millennials just getting started are infusing our industry with incredible energy and new ideas. In some cases I sense the same entrepreneurial fearlessness that, a half century or so ago resulted in the birth and development of some of the largest and successful businesses in our industry. I also sense the younger generations possessing a very strong dedication to community service and causes. They seemingly embrace service to others as both a responsibility and a responsibility.
Will they all achieve their dreams? Of course not. Nevertheless, their drive will make things, sometimes very positive unexpected things, happen.
For example, a young Philadelphia-area entrepreneur by the name of Josh Skolnick started a tree service franchise, Monster Tree Service, this spring. His plan is twofold – to take it national and to make it a more professional and career-friendly industry. Meanwhile, Aaron Samson is putting together a new lawn care franchise system based upon the success of his southeastern Michigan Lush Lawn operation.
You’ll be reading about both young men and their plans and dreams in Turf magazine this summer. However, let me share what another young man (perhaps not so young as Skolnick or Samson, but certainly young in my eyes) helped put together for this recently passed Memorial Day.
I’m writing about Bruce Allentuck, owner of Allentuck Landscaping, Clarksburg, Md., with help from friends (team "Red, White and Blue"). They promoted and participated in WOD for Warriors -"21 Guns, A Memorial Day Salute." WOD stands for Workout Of the Day.
On Memorial Day they gathered at the Westleigh Recreation Club in Gaithersburg, MD, to put in a full hour of training, in some cases consisting of 21 push ups, 21 burpee wall jumps, 21 fireman carry back squats, 21 more burpee wall jumps and finally 21 pull ups. The five exercises are one for each branch of the military, and the number 21 signifies the 21-Gun Salute. The exercises are done with a partner, the aim of which is signify the bonds that need to be created between "our nation’s warriors" and the communities they return to.
The larger aim of the annual event is threefold:
1. Help people remember and observe Memorial Day in a respectful, reflective, meaningful way.
2. Create a window of opportunity to improve communication between communities and their veterans to foster understanding.
3. Use the shared experience to build bonds that are restorative to veterans and their communities.
Allentuck notes that more than 60 people showed up for the Gaithersburg event. Team Red, White and Blue completed 4,166 pushups, 3,645 burpees and 2604 squats (336 with someone on their back). It raised $1,800 for the cause. There were about 90 similar events elsewhere across the United States.
The point is the world belongs to each approaching generation. In my mind anyway, it’s a good thing that it does. Young people generate the energy and possess the optimism to keep our society and our industry improving and progressing.
Here are some images of team Red, White and Blue in action this past Memorial Day, courtesy of Allentuck (white hat, white tee-shirt). It appears you don’t to be a Gen’xer or a Millennial to participate in this event, even so . . .