Effective and lasting change in our world must be fueled by open-minded communication and collaboration across generational divides. I am inspired to bridge that generational gap because doing so will enable us to come together around concerns that affect all of us. I have been following millennials for months and I am amazed at what I am seeing.

For example, a few weeks back I came upon a Facebook post about Boyan Slat, a 20 year old man, whose story so inspired me that I have since shared it countless times as I attempt to explain to people how important this concept of #BridgeTheGap is to me.

Last night, I shared his story with my granddaughter. We had just seen Tomorrowland, a movie that moved me to tears as I realized that the story line ran so parallel to the message I am determined to share through this blog. When I commented that the millennials were so well represented in the movie, and that it would be her generation that would change the world, she demurely commented that she wasn’t one of those who would make a difference.

I was compelled to set her straight even though she is only fifteen, because after all Boyan Slat was only twenty when he determined that he needed to clean up and protect the oceans of the world. I desperately wanted her understand that she will, in the not-too-distant future, come upon issues and causes that will insight her to emotional highs that include frustration and anger. And, when she is ready, she will very likely move from emotion to activism as she transitions from adolescence to adulthood.

She wasn’t visibly impressed, but I have high hopes that she has been influenced in ways that will blossom as she matures. She did after all grow up an only child of a single mother and the granddaughter of a stalwart feminist,

I have digressed here a bit, but I am honored to have included my beautiful granddaughter in my first #BridgeTheGap blog post and I will surely include her in many more as she is the youngest of the millennials and one who I will depend on for poignant feedback.

Back to Boyan’s story…

Boyan Slat is a scuba diver who realized that oceanic life is dying after many years of the devastating influences of plastic.

shutterstock_309809555Determined to find a solution to the problem, he did some research, but he also bridged the generational gap and enlisted the wisdom and expertise of scientists studying the ocean. Together they determined that there are nine powerful currents in the world that, because of their centrifugal force, are pulling plastic up into the highest levels of their vortexes.

Slat set out to create a solar-powered dragnet that would collect the plastic as it rises to the surface of these currents. The prototype was so successful that he crowd-sourced $50,000 to build the next version and he has attracted donors who are willing to fund bigger projects. His latest version, that spans 2,000 meters is set to be deployed in 2016. Based on current successes, he estimates that we can eliminate 7,500,000 tons of plastic from our world’s oceans by 2021.

But, he didn’t stop there. Wondering what to do with all the plastic once retrieved, he created a recycling model. It is estimated that this retrieved plastic will spawn a multi-million dollar recycling business. Learn more about Boyan Slat at TEDTalks.com.

When I shared the story, my granddaughter asked me how we could completely clean up the oceans when we continue to dump more plastic (Ah, she was listening). I responded that her generation, along with the genXers, are much more conscientious about reusing plastic and recycling. I admitted that my generation had created the problem and hers would clean it up. For that I got a smile, which anyone living around a teenage girl knows, is a rarity to be savored.

For a more in depth discussion about the wisdom of age and the innovation of younger generations, visit SourceImperative.com/blog/#bridgethegap.