Gero-Punk Fresh Start

Greetings to you as we embark upon a new year!

I have missed you. Have you missed me?

I’ve not been as present in this space as I have been in past years nor as frequently and consistently as I’d prefer to be. But never fear, I’ve been enacting the Gero-Punk Manifesto far-and-wide (though in 2017, mostly from behind the scenes).

What an interesting year 2017 was (that’s putting it mildly, yes?).  As the year unfolded, I found myself become increasingly ensconced in the ways of the Hermit, withdrawing from virtual interactions (I don’t think I even tweeted once last year, and I only posted on Facebook occasionally), as well as shying from the old school in-person kind of stuff.  I was mostly working in solitude, nose to the grindstone, only emerging when necessary into the big wide-world of social life (and shuddering in the corner from the glare and cacophony).  I got a lot of great work accomplished though I ended the year wondering if I had accomplished anything at all.  As I said, 2017 was “interesting.”

So, here we are, a bit over a week into the shiny new year, a year that for me is about the promise of cross-roads and the energy of the four-directions (thus the image). I thought maybe what I’d do in this inaugural missive is tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to in 2017 and where I think I’m heading as 2018 unfurls.  Sound good?

Last year, I had a few major projects upon which most of my energy and time was focused (thus living mostly like a hermit):

  • The End Ageism campaign This project is spearheaded by the Portland Community College Gerontology program. In 2016, We kicked-off the campaign with two events featuring Ashton Applewhite, the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. Throughout 2017, I served as the lead faculty in moving our campaign forward.  I developed a working educational model for understanding and ending ageism and used this model as the focus for a dozen workshops and presentations at PCC, at the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education conference, as well as for two workshops I presented out in the larger Oregon community. Shout-outs to our team: Jan Abushakrah, Roger Anunsen, Mike Faber, Annette Lansing and Edward Taub.
  • As part of the End Ageism campaign, I was asked to design and teach a new PCC course on ageism (as part of our new Gerontology Advocacy Certificate!). The course, GRN 201 Understanding and Ending Ageism, is a two-credit online course. We use the educational model I designed for the campaign as a way into this complex, multi-level and intersectional issue. We engage in ongoing collaborative learning which culminates in the  Ending Ageism Synthesis and Action Project. Each student, in ongoing conversation with their classmates and me, designs a project that addresses some aspect of ageism at a particular level of manifestation– individual, interpersonal, social/institutional, cultural – while grounding their analysis and recommendations in the model which foregrounds the intersectional and interconnected nature of ageism. I taught the course for the first time fall term 2017 and I’m teaching it again winter term 2018, so I have the real-time opportunity to continue to refine the course design.
  • I finally concluded the writing and editing of a new book for which I’m first author (with Harry R. Moody): Gerontology: The Basics. Honestly, I never thought we’d coax this book into fruition, but it is currently in production and will be published by Routledge U.K. this spring. It is a wee book intended for a general audience. It focuses on how gerontological knowledge is constructed and what we think we know about adult aging at this point in time. If you read it, I think you’ll hear our shared Critical Gerontology commitments singing in the background.
  • On the theme of Critical Gerontology, you might be interested in my recent journal article published in Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies: “Our Research is Living, Our Data is Life: Toward a Transdisciplinary Gerontology.” If you are interested in reading my essay, let me know and I’ll be happy to send a PDF your way.

Okay, that’s enough about me and about last year. Let’s talk about this year!

I’ll be writing much more about the course on ageism I designed as well as the ongoing End Ageism campaign (Our PCC team received a small grant, so our work will be continuing at least during winter term 2018). I’ve also been planning to write a post on the Future Older Selves reflection exercise I developed 20 years ago and about the various ways in which I’ve been using this exercise. Here’s a little video if you want to know how I’ve been playing with it in my current teaching. Also, I’d like to schedule some Gero-Punk Salons for those of you living in the Portland-OR area (and I’m open to the idea of convening a virtual Gero-Punk Salon for those of you who are living elsewhere…). I’ll be continuing to facilitate the Talking About Dying  program and co-facilitating (with my man Simeon Dreyfuss) the Just a Number?: Aging and Intergenerational Friendships program for Oregon Humanities (Join me/us for upcoming programs throughout Oregon!).

Where do you fit into all of this?  I need your input, please, regarding topics/issues/problems/themes you’d like me to write about, you’d like to write about, or about which you’d like me to convene a Gero-Punk Salon. If you have any ideas – bright or provisional, I take ‘em all! – please email me at

Thanks for reading this. Thanks for being my Gero-Punk Comrade. And thanks for all the great work you do.





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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1 Response to Gero-Punk Fresh Start

  1. Kate Kelly (Kathie) says:

    Hi Jenny,
    Yes, I do miss you, and all the Gerontology community in Portland. But, I’m diligently pursuing activities to carry on the cause. I mentioned to you a while back that a new program was being developed at the local arts center. Well, we are a year and half into it and it’s taking off. I’m on the education committee for Crooked Tree Arts Center, and the sub committee that I chair is called the Learning Studio. We decided to omit “Lifelong”, because we have a number of activities that are intergenerational. The purpose of this program is to reach a broader audience (retirement communities ), and to make it affordable (classes and workshops are free). We are doing that by having facilitators/instructors volunteer their time. The regular classes at the center are pricey and teachers are paid. Our idea is to give all these newly retired people a purpose and new direction.
    Right now we have a Drop in and Draw, taught by different artists each time, and any age is welcome. There is a Ukulele drop in for all ages, a photography drop in which is giving the local photography group a new purpose, an intergenerational quilting project with school kids and quilters, and a discussion group called “Living Artfully” with different presenters discussing ways to age in creative ways.
    In addition to that, I’m a new board member for a retirement community in Harbor Springs which is under the umbrella of Presbyterian Villages out of Southfield, MI. I met another woman up here, about my age, who has a graduate degree in Gerontology from Wayne State. We are on these committees together–a rare breed in these parts.
    I also still have my women’s writing group going that meets at my house every two weeks. A wonderful group of intelligent, thinking women who have bonded together in a delightful way.
    Beyond these activities, you may have gotten the message that John and I got married a year ago last July, and now have a one year old Portuguese Water Dog. Got him a year ago as an 8 week old puppy. He is adorable and a pain in the A…, but we love the little critter.
    I still would love to have you come to Michigan someday and do some kind of presentation. If you get back this way, let me know and maybe we can work something out. The people running the Arts Center and the retirement community where I’m on board, are pretty progressive thinkers. It just takes money, and we hope to get a grant at some point .
    In the meantime, I would love to read some of your new publications. It’s hard to keep up with what’s new in the field here with not many resources close by.
    So good to read your letter, and do keep in touch. Your classes, and the graduate studies were life enhancing for me.
    Sending love,
    Kathie Kelly(aka Kate)

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