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March 28, 2018

Well, it’s beginning to look that way. As an historian of ideas, I’ve been watching for signs of a post-millennial turn (also a 500-year-turn and a century-turn). It has always happened in the past (at least during the last 2,000 years).

In history, there are cycles that reoccur, because nothing ever happens in linear lines—at least not long-term. For the pendulum can only swing so far before there’s a guaranteed course correction.

Last weekend, I followed along as my quilter-wife made her yearly pilgrimage to the annual quilt show in Denver. This year, we were mobbed. Connie couldn’t remember seeing that many people before, attending a regional quilt show. Many were young.

And who’d have believed that vinyl records would ever come back? And old-timey phonographs. Yet that’s what we’re seeing. And, in the process, the young discovering melodic music, rather than the current anything-goes substitutions that we older people tune out as best we can.

Also during the last few weeks, we Kiwanians held our 16th annual reading celebration for area third-graders in our mountain community: specifically six elementary schools: Deer Creek, Elk Creek, Marshdale, Parmalee, Rocky Mountain, West Jeff, and area homeschoolers. Biggest crowd ever! (300 – 400). Standing in a long line were 110 third-graders who so valued having an author gift each of them with their personal choice from 16 of my books—personally inscribed to them. They also got to take a hay ride out to see life buffalo and elk, get their faces painted, and watch six classmates from each school (as top-readers) receive a certificate and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift-card. And, stay till the very end to see which of the third-graders would be lucky enough (in a drawing) to win all 16 of the child-favorite books of ours. Not e-books—but actual books! And such excitement! Such loud clapping!

On March 13, in The Wall Street Journal, was a most provocative article by Ellen Byron titled “The Clean-Living Generation.” Here are some excerpts:

  • 20-somethings, seeking control in uncertain times, find their comfort zone in crafts, meditation, vegetables.
  • THEY DRINK LESS alcohol, eat more vegetables, cut back on meat, meditate often, enjoy knitting and make their own pour-over coffee. Meet the ‘clean lifers,’ the young adults who revel in dodging the indulgences of their elders.
  • Many young adults, having grown up during the recession, pursue healthful living as a way to find balance amid the global uncertainty that continues today.
  • The portability of cans dovetails with their active lifestyle outside, hiking, boating or skiing—the pack-in, pack-out crushability of the can is a big factor with them.
  • They feel they can make a difference, and this influences their spending choices…. This means more saying no to alcohol, no to unhealthy habits, no to animal-based products, and, increasingly, no to unmeasured or uninformed spending…. Talking about how drunk you got the night before used to be a badge of honor, but this new generation would roll their eyes at that.
  • Certainly the most sophisticated [food-related] preferences are led by millennials.
  • Young knitters and crocheters, ages 18 to 34, are learning the craft at about twice the rate of those aged 35 to 54…. Most yarn crafters say it gives them a sense of accomplishment and helps them cope with stress.
  • Millennials and Gen Zers have a much greater sense of balance, they’re less guilty about indulgences because they’re better to their bodies every day.

* * * * *

And, who among us can possibly forget the massive crowds of young people, last weekend, who thronged the streets of our largest cities to protest society’s failure to protect them from being machine-gunned in their classrooms? The largest youth-dominated street crowds since the Vietnam War!

Yes, the times they are a changin’