The History Center uses pancakes to join generations

Key points:

  • On April 6, The History Center of Tompkins County raised about $3500-$4500 through a pancake fundraiser.
  • The money is going towards The History Center’s “Generation-to-Generation,” a program dedicated to connecting the different generations together and initiating dialogue
  • Some of the programs include oral history recording and teaching teens from the younger generation how to interview elders for archives in The History Center.

For about fifteen years, Paula Younger, motivational speaker, has observed the deeper connections that people make when a plate of pancakes is involved.

“It seems to be different than if I just was sitting there and saying ‘Tell me about your family,’” Younger said. “You can ask the same question around a plate of pancakes and there’s so much more richness out of the story.”

Inspired by the idea of using pancakes to initiate dialogue and connections, Younger went to Rod Howe, the Executive Director of The History Center of Tompkins County, and together they created a fundraiser centered around the idea.

Restaurants such as Coltivare, Carriage House Cafe, and Purity Ice Cream supported the program by making a range of breakfast food, like lemon pancakes and egg frittata.

Howe said that the pancake event represents a deeper theme that The History Center is looking to focus on in the upcoming months.

“We’re doing a Generation to Generation series, which is a chance to think about the different generations through intergenerational dialogues,” Howe said. “It happens that I know Paula Younger and I knew her pancake moments. I know she uses pancakes as a chance to get people talking to each other, build relationships and for generations to share information, so it was a nice way to kickoff the Generation to Generation series.”


Younger led a speech during the event where she encouraged the audience members to talk to each other and share deeper conversations while eating the pancakes provided for the event.

“We are at a point in time in our history with a great number of multi-generational groups,” Younger said. “If there is a time to embrace the different generations and talk about it, this is the time.”

The event raised about $3,500-$4,500 for The History Center’s overall goal of raising $8,000-$12,000.

Generations to Generations Project

Howe hopes that in the upcoming months, The History Center will be able to raise enough money to support the programs that go along with The History Center’s Generation-to-Generation series.

“Our tagline is Generation to Generation, so we want more use out of the tagline and want to make it meaningful.” Howe said. “Helping people really unpack what it means is a way of helping people be mindful about our local history.”

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The History Center plans to use the money that was raised from the pancake event to initiate more conversations and connections between the different generations of people. Some events that are already lined up are a history forge project, oral history training, genealogy training, and training teenagers how to interview elders.

Howe is already working on training the teens to interview elders, using the money raised to purchase equipment to record the interviews. The students, ranging from 10th to 12th grade, have been trained on how to properly interview elders. Throughout the next three months, the teens will be interviewing people that The History Center has paired them up with.

“They don’t know each other at all.” Howe said. “We hope it’ll generate interest to where they ask their grandparents a different set of questions or elderly neighbors. We’re hoping it’s a catalyst for how they think about wanting to interact with that older generation in their lives.”


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