Gero-Punk Playdate: Meet me at the Treehouse!

I’m really excited! I can hardly wait! On Thursday, February 11th, 2016, I get to have a Gero-Punk playdate at the Treehouse!

You see, I’m embarking upon a field trip to Easthampton, Massachusetts, for a day of collaborative inquiry with members of the Treehouse Community, a vibrant intentional community created to enact a powerful multigenerational model of serving children and families in the foster care system:

Established in 2006, the Treehouse Community is a geographically contained, multigenerational, planned neighborhood where adoptive families, their children and elders invest in one another’s lives. It is a village where children find not just parents and a home, but also grandparents, playmates and an entire neighborhood designed to help them grow up in a secure and nurturing environment.

My friend Libby Hinze is responsible for cooking up the field trip. Libby is working on her MSW at Smith College, specializing in Gerontological social work. Her thesis project focuses on the role of older adults in intentional multigenerational communities such as the Treehouse Community in MA (or at the wonderful Bridge Meadows, in Portland, OR). Libby is interesting in understanding more deeply the ongoing meaning-making processes engaged in by elders living in such communities, why they decided to move to and be a part of the community, how they construct their roles and responsibilities in the community, and what gives them a sense of vitality.

To explore these and other questions generated by a group of four Treehouse community members with whom she facilitated a planning focus group, Libby and I will co-facilitate an elder-lead symposium, What a meaningful life! We will gather with the elders of the community for two hours, dive into deep conversation, and see what happens!

And as if the symposium weren’t exciting enough, I’ll be giving a Gero-Punk presentation, exploring ways to create together a wisdom-based community that fosters vital involvement and deeper connections for sages of all ages. In the presentation I will weave together stories and insights gathered from my ongoing Gero-Punk Project adventures, as well as themes that surface from the morning symposium. (There’s really nothing quite like emergent design to harness the co-creative energy of a group thinking together about Big Questions!)

Sounds pretty cool, does it not? You see why I’m giddy with excitement?


P.S. If you happen to live in the Easthampton, MA environs and want to drop in to see what we are up to, let me know or you can contact the Treehouse Community, One Treehouse Circle, Easthampton, MA 01027; (413) 527-7966


About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. 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 twenty (or more!) 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 inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
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