Working to reconnect the generations quickly became his passion. The former University of Colorado regent first created Intergeneration Day and now has worked to establish Intergeneration Month, which will be recognized during September.
Kraemer took some time to tell the Business Journal about his many community endeavors.
What is Intergeneration Month, and what are its origins?
Intergeneration Month is a special time to intentionally connect generations through communication, celebration and education. There are other times when we encourage intergenerational connections, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents Day.
The last 20 years of my law practice, I’ve focused on estate planning and estate administration. I wrote a popular book called 60 Minute Estate Planner, which provided insight into wealth transfer in America. My experiences clearly showed that the intergenerational transfer of values is much more important than money. I began to wonder how you transfer values between generations. Out of that came Intergeneration Month.
[pullquote]My experiences clearly showed that the intergenerational transfer of values is much more important than money.[/pullquote]China recently put new wording in its laws requiring citizens to keep in touch or visit their parents more frequently, or risk being sued. The gap between young and older populations is growing and the disconnection is becoming a crisis. I am founder and president of the Intergeneration Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a local board. We researched the need to set aside a time each year to focus on intentionally connecting generations to better communicate age-related gratitude and needs. We found the need was great.
To fulfill the needs, in the year 2000, we launched Intergeneration Day worldwide, the first Sunday in October. Our research proved overwhelmingly correct. Forty-one state governors followed Colorado in proclaiming Intergeneration Day, plus scores of organization endorsements, including American Library Association, American Alliance of Museums, American Council of Life Insurers, National Easter Seals, Centura Health, Microsoft Corp., Stanford University Center on Longevity, plus uncountable community organizations and families.
Feedback revealed that one day was not adequate for planning and staging “IG” events. We are now expanding Intergeneration Day to Intergeneration Month: September.
The reactions to Intergeneration Month have been compellingly positive. We are an Internet-driven organization. Please go to www.intergenerationmonth.org to see all our activities. Presently, we are running our third Intergeneration Storytelling Contest worldwide, with cash prizes. Last date to enter a story is December 31, 2013.
Why is Intergeneration Month important for business?
Americans spent $20.7 billion dollars on Mother’s Day in 2013, according to the National Retail Federation, amounting to $168.94 per consumer. Intergeneration Month: September is not Mother’s Day. But I predict it will grow into a more than $1 billion annual retail event.
What books have you written, and what is your writing process like?
I have written several major national books. However, I want to focus on writings related to Intergeneration Month: September. As I mentioned, one is 60 Minute Estate Planner.
I wrote a paper, “Inheritance and Human Rights,” showing that the right to equal inheritance was one of the best protections of human rights. The paper was accepted by the World Jurist Association for a conference in Doha, Qatar, a small Muslim country adjoining Saudi Arabia. When I arrived at the conference, I found that I had been appointed chairman of the Human Rights Panel. For four hours, I chaired the meeting of lawyers and judges from around the world, discussing the connections between the laws of inheritance and human rights. Shouting matches occurred as cultures and laws clashed, proof that intergenerational equity is a huge worldwide issue.
My new book, “ASK Now: Highly Effective People Apply 5 Win Words,” is available on Amazon and Kindle. It focuses on how to help yourself so you can help others. Again, it is a book on how to help each other across generations, to fulfill personal needs and wants. Books are an effective tool to entrench ideas. It takes years and a lot of help and support from people smarter and more qualified than me to produce a final book that will appeal to many readers.
Tell us about your (and your family’s) history.
My mother moved here from Chicago as a single parent after World War II to raise my two sisters and me in the West. Luckily, she chose Colorado Springs. I attended several schools: Garfield, Steele, North Junior and Colorado Springs High School, which is now Palmer High School, before earning an engineering degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Colorado. My engineering and law degrees proved to be very complementary. A good education is priceless.
My wife, Dorothy, is very active in civic affairs. Our three children and eight grandchildren live in Denver and Colorado Springs.
Tell us about your community involvement.
I have worked to improve Colorado Springs, the state of Colorado and our nation. Hopefully, I have created legacies that will benefit future generations. I served on the University of Colorado Board of Regents for 12 years, including as chairman, focusing much of my effort on building UCCS. Other activities range from opening City North Slope and Rampart Range watersheds to public recreation, to serving on the United States Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. My favorite personal quote is on the wall outside the library at UCCS, and reads, “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift to Future Generations.” I firmly believe that to be true.
What’s been the most significant change you’ve seen in Colorado Springs during your time here?
I have lived in Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, California and Colorado, and traveled extensively. Colorado Springs is engaged in a difficult identity struggle. Perhaps the biggest change is the economic dominance of Denver in the Rocky Mountain West. Denver, and particularly Denver International Airport, is impossible to compete with directly. We must establish and maintain our own identity.