Meet Bev founder of Celebrate Living History!

Hello my name is Bev Wilkinson and I have been interviewing two very vast generations of entrepreneurs over the past few months.

Bev with Bruce and Gail.

I thought this was a topic that would not only inspire me but the students I have collaborated with over the past few years.

Sometimes the only way to be successful is to run to the beat of your own drum. Have a go at doing something that makes you happy every day.

For those that know me well, what I love about Celebrate Living History is the ability to be the middle person between generations. I absolutely love when one of my interns has a wonderful time with a senior. The age barriers are broken and they see each other as people not just a number. Sometimes capturing a story can lead to a life long friendship. I know for me I have many friends over 60 that started from a story and led too much more.

I hope these two very vast generations who are under 30 and over 60 can learn from each other.

Today I’ll be sharing a little bit of my world with you.

Tell me about your trip to the United States? 

It was an amazing journey that I didn’t think would be possible but it became a reality last year.

I travelled all around the United States connecting with people who run programs focussed on connecting young with old.

One of the highlights was meeting the Italian grandmas at Enoteca Maria in New York. It was wonderful to see how valued these nonnas were in the kitchen and their ability to share traditional cooking tips with younger “nonnas” in training.

Brittany, Bev and Jessica

In North Carolina I was lucky enough to connect with museum professionals from around the United States at the Duke University 2017 Dementia and Museum Symposium. It was wonderful to be inspired by the wealth of knowledge these professionals had for creating programs that focussed on the health and wellbeing of individuals with dementia and their care partners.

I also returned to North Carolina a second time to be a guest in the Duke University Reflections program held at the Nasher Museum. It was wonderful to see the Reflections program run in person by Jessica Ruhle and Brittany Halberstadt. The Reflections tour is for those who have Alzheimer’s to experience art in the moment. Everyone had the opportunity to participate without judgement and the freedom to simply relate to the art they see. I found the tour instantly calming with the theme of meditation flowing from the art work to a tai-chi jazz performance.

In Milwaukee I had the opportunity to speak at the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference about Celebrate Living History.
I was pretty nervous but I was excited to be talking about my passion for connecting generations through writing. I was placed last in the line up of speakers, so it was a hard crowd to woo! But I managed to wake folks up with an image of powerful street art I found in the streets of Milwaukee. I asked delegates “What do you think of this image?” Some of the replies were the street art was in a trendy area. But then I replied that my first thoughts of Milwaukee was pretty scary. I ventured out of my air bnb into the back streets and the first thing I see is a couple yelling at each other. I did not feel safe however I continued walking and bumped into this strong powerful street art of a bird rising above the flames. Then I realised that Milwaukee was not as bad as it seems. If someone can create this artistic gem in the rough, anything can happen.

I compared this strong powerful bird to me. And my ability to keep going even when it becomes tough, you need to follow your passion and rise above the flames.

Bev with Megan

Talking about fiery women, in Atlanta I met Meagan Jain the founder of Ageless Interaction. I heard of Megan through a crowd funding platform where she was raising money for art classes with seniors in day cares and nursing homes. I joined Meagan in one of her art classes held at a senior day centre. It was amazing to see the seniors with mild- high dementia be creative and really enjoy being in the moment through art. It didn’t matter that some of the paintings did not resemble the end painting of a flower. They were using their minds and creative energies to have fun.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I was pretty shy when I was younger. I had my close group of friends that I could turn to that I felt safe with.

I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life, I think at such a young age it is so hard to decide what path you are going to take.

I think if I could talk to my 16-year-old self, I would tell myself to not worry about the future. Just enjoy the present, and you will grow into yourself in time.

You will learn confidence by spending many years in the tourism industry before you find what your really good at. And that’s ok; these experiences will build the person you are today. You are an out of the box thinker and that is one of many attributes that makes you stand out. And your wicked laugh of course!

What advice would you give to the younger generation?

I have been lucky to work with young interns over the years with Celebrate Living History. I love their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. 

I think one of the questions I get frequently asked is how do I get a job at the end of my internship?

I know it is so hard, when you graduate suddenly all your friends you made at university are now your competition. Everyone wants that “career” job and suddenly you are just one of many.

I believe if you really want to use your university skills there is a way. You have to think out the box.

Some of my tactics include becoming a member of Linked In and connecting with someone who is doing what you want to do.

If they are super nice maybe you can enjoy a coffee with them. Its all about connecting with the right people. And sometimes gaining a new friendship down the road.

Some of my graduates have gone on to work in regional newspapers, often if you go country its the best way to learn. All hands are on deck. Not as competitive as the city folks.

Maybe you can create your own media website? Just like myself! Think outside the box and make your dream a reality.

If you could jump into a time machine what era would you visit and why?

I would love to be a witness to the world when it was first evolving. When everything was a clean slate. No buildings. No electricity. No sense of the modern human. I think it would be amazing to see the possibilities with fresh eyes and in wonder about what is yet to exist.