Gero-Punk Provocation: Our research is living, our data is life

Happy Autumn Equinox to you! I hope this message finds you all doing just swell on this liminal day that marks the transition from summer to fall. I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but those of us here in Portland have been visited by the kind of wind that can pick you up off the ground and fly you like a kite if you aren’t paying enough attention to where  you are and what’s happening around you.

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We’ve had a bunch of new folks join the Gero-Punk Project in the past couple of weeks (thanks to guest Gero-punks Larry and Velda, whose great essays attracted quite a lot of attention). So, let me take this moment to say hello to you new folks and thank you for your interest in what we are up to.

Will you play with us?

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Perhaps you need to know a bit more about what’s what before you’ll feel willing to venture further.  That’s cool. 

The Gero-Punk Project provides a venue for telling and sharing stories about our travels through the life-course. Together we create a space for trying out alternative ways of experiencing and writing about time/space/place, about age and aging, and about the complexities of being human beings, aware of the passage of time. We take seriously the idea that we are time-travelers: a particular age, all ages, and no age at all. We give  voice to our flummoxing, fascinating, mundane and profound, odd and perhaps transgressive thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to this grand and strange adventure of being and becoming human in and through and outside of time. We legitimize confusion, uncertainty, and vulnerability, states of no-sense. As well, we harness our inner authority, our sovereignty, our growing expertise about our own inside experiences and our curiosity about the inside experiences of others.

We ask questions such as:  

Where does age reside?

What does it feel like to be the embodied creatures we are right now in this present moment? (And what might it feel like to be a differently embodied creature?)

What assumptions are we holding about what a particular age should be like, or look like, and where did these assumptions come from? (And are we served well by these assumptions or do we want to blow them up and create something new?)

How might our confusions, mishaps and missteps as we muddle through this life be sources of learning and wisdom, for ourselves and, by sharing them, for others?

(And for those of us who are formally engaged in the work of gerontology) we ask to what extent do we see our aging experiences reflected in the official Gerontological theory and research? And to what extent are our aging experiences and our capacities to support others with their aging experiences informed by Gerontological theory and research? What are the connections and disconnections? What is missing and what might we add?

As well, we ask: What capacities for self-care and intentional aging do we want to develop so that we can live vibrant and purposeful lives, no matter what challenges we might face as we continue our travels through the life-course?

Also this: What are the ways in which we might be of service to others, to the larger community, and to the world that allow us to enact our deepest longings and commitments,  help us grow in all directions as human beings as we continue to ripen?

And perhaps most important of all, we ask: If we had play-dates with our 8 year old selves, what would we do? If we invited our future older selves over for a glass of wine, what would we talk about?

(This is by no means an exhaustive list. But it is a good start. What questions have you been asking lately? Any questions to add to the list?)

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Our research is living and our data is life.

Will you join us?

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. As of 12/21/15, I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past fifteen years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (8th edition). I live in Portland, Oregon with my dog Happy. My daughter Isobel is a Sophomore at Bard College in New York state. I have been on the planet 49 years.
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