The purpose of the Stories Connecting Generations (SCG) project is to use storytelling and visual design to connect individuals of two diverse generations, namely older adults in senior centers and college students majoring in Visual Communication Design and Sociology at Kent State University. This project is co-founded by Manacy Pai (KSU Department of Sociology; email@example.com) and Jessica Barness (KSU School of Visual Communication Design; firstname.lastname@example.org).
The project pairs one student with one older adult. For spring 2022, we have 17 participating pairs. Each pair connects virtually through a video or phone call each week for a period of up to 6-8 weeks. Each virtual (or phone) session lasts anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes and this varies largely based on the nature, personality, and connection formed between the participating individuals. Through these conversations, older adults share their life stories and younger individuals are tasked with the opportunity to transform these stories and lived experiences into a form of visual design (e.g., a collage, storyboard, mural design, graphic design, or something else).
Stories shared by older adults could range from their experiences of living through a particular historical era (e.g., civil rights; Vietnam war), history of a particular neighborhood to stories about their family or/and work (e.g., musician, teacher, carpenter, nurse, etc.). The interactions, we hope, stimulate discussions and discovery of facts and issues that are meaningful for both the younger and older participants. The goal is for our students to use their design skills to translate life histories and stories into visual works — which, we believe, will helps students, older partners, and our local communities.
These creative works have been displayed in Taylor Hall Gallery and Design Innovation Galleries on the Kent State University campus in Kent, and online.