be_ixf;ym_202112 d_08; ct_50 Learn more about City Year’s response to COVID-19

Seven generations

City Year’s idealistic culture includes a growing collection of stories and quotations from many cultures that we call “Founding Stories.” These Stories, which we consider to be gifts to our organization, are a foundation for our work and provide values to guide us, set us on course and remind us of the most fundamental motivations for our work.

We share the Founding Stories with each other often and apply them to our work each and every day. We would like to share The Seven Generations Founding Story with you.

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” -Iroquois Proverb

The Iroquois nation, a confederation of Native American peoples, wrote in their constitution more than 500 years ago that leaders must “Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations” and that “the thickness of their skin shall be seven spans” to protect against “anger, offensive actions and criticism” from affecting their making the best decisions.

These commitments of stewardship for future generations and moral toughness are a profound formula for ensuring intergenerational responsibility by considering the well-being of those who do not yet have a voice, but who may nonetheless be affected by our decisions today. As one commentator has observed, “The point of considering seven generations is to remove individual self-interests from public decision making. Seven generations is about the longest period of time that we can grasp subjectively. Some of us had great grandparents when we were born. We have known our grandparents, our parents and ourselves. We may also know our children, our grandchildren and possibly our great grandchildren. These seven generations are a yard stick of human experience.”

Related stories

Even after a year that presented big challenges in the form of online learning, many of our AmeriCorps members find...

Read more about Finding meaning in a second year of service

Explore seven cities where we have a need for extraordinary young people to serve and mentor students.

Read more about Seven cities where you can make a difference to students

Bridge building is a powerful metaphor and tool for social change. Seeing and making connections, whether among people or ideas,...

Read more about Bridge builders

As the year winds down, there are many extra responsibilities that AmeriCorps members are working against the clock to accomplish. 

Read more about Finishing the year strong
National Strategic Partners
  • AbbVie logo
  • AT&T logo
  • Comcast NBC/ Universal logo
  • CSX logo
  • Deloitte logo
  • New York Life Foundation logo
  • Red Nose Day logo
National Partners
  • Aramark logo
  • Bain Capital logo
  • Bank of America logo
  • Celanese logo
  • NFL Inspire Change logo
  • Santander logo
  • Taco Bell Foundation logo block for footer