Redmond intergenerational day care connects seniors, kid

Preschoolers hang with ‘grandpals’ in new program

By Peter Madsen, The Bulletin, @OutdoorsyInBend

Published May 27, 2017 at 12:09AM

Sitting in a circle with others, Emmit Jones and George Neal took turns thwacking a beach ball with foam noodles. Both Jones, 4, and Neal, who couldn’t immediately recall his age but said it was “not a long way over 40,” delighted each time the ball bounced their direction, provoking more wallops with the floppy noodles, some of which connected with Neal’s noggin.

“He must have hit me in the head 20 times,” Neal said with a laugh. “I enjoy teaching the children different things. I do my best to let them know where I fit in, too.”

Jones and Neal, age 76, according to a caregiver, are two participants in a yet-to-be-named intergenerational program that brings together seniors — many with early- or mid-stage dementia — and children ages 3 to 6 for interactions twice per day. The program launched May 1. It is the collaborative effort of Thelma’s Place Day Respite and Whoopsy Daisy Child Care in Redmond. The two nonprofits share a building near St. Charles Redmond with Country Side Living, a full-time, assisted-living residence, and some of its tenants also participate.

The seniors and kids usually connect in a common area or on field trips to places such as the High Desert Museum, an alpaca farm or a thrift store. While Gentog, another intergenerational program, has operated in Tigard since 2008, Redmond’s is the only program in Oregon east of the Cascades.

Intergenerational day care is a concept that gained traction in the early 1980s. Now, more than 500 such programs operate throughout the country, according to Generations United, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit concerned with family research and advocacy that was founded in 1986. Donna Butts, the organization’s executive director, said these intergenerational relationships are reciprocal — the benefits also extend to families and local communities.

“Our goal is to connect the senior generation with children,” said Stephanie Roderick, executive director of Thelma’s Place and Whoopsy Daisy. “Just being around the sight of someone in a wheelchair or someone with an oxygen tank — it wasn’t something that you felt real comfortable as a child. So a big part is just getting (children) used to the aging process itself. It creates empathy in the younger generations.”

Beginning June 19, the two programs will host Camp Thelma’s, a summer day camp where children and seniors — or “grandpals” — will take part in a variety of play-themed activities and outings.

“When children are around older adults, (studies have shown that) they learn to be more patient and are more likely to share. They say thank you and please because older people are more willing to remind them to do that,” Butts said. “They look at people who are different than them and see them as friends, not as different. They’re not put off by wheelchairs or walkers or wrinkles. They think somebody who is 7 or 70 could be their friend.”

In collaboration with the Eisner Foundation, Generations United surveyed more than 2,000 American adults, in which 53 percent said they don’t get to spend time with people outside their family that are much younger or older, according to a report released this month.

Two in 3 adults wished they could spend more time with other groups, and 3 in 4 wish their communities had more multi-generational centers, parks or some way they could connect with other generations.

“People want to be together with other generations. They realize it’s healthier for them. When older adults are only with older adults, I always say they are only talking about the three P’s: pain, pills and passing. What hurts, who died and what medication they’re on. But when they’re around other generations, conversations are much deeper and richer and much healthier.”

On this recent morning, Whoopsy Daisy caregivers lead a stream of children from their day room down the hall to Thelma’s Place, a part-time, full-time and drop-in respite center for seniors. A dementia diagnosis is not required to participate. In a brightly lit dining and meeting room area, the children took miniature seats on either side of four seniors, who greeted them warmly.

“Dakota (Stevens), this is George,” said Shana Franco, a caregiver, in way of introduction to Neal, a retired UPS employee who, like the other seniors, wore a name tag that indicated his hometown and former occupation. “Give him five,” Franco said.

Neal stuck out his hand, but the overall-clad boy with a shy demeanor didn’t reciprocate. This was Neal’s second day participating in the intergenerational program. During the morning session, the children and seniors sang along to “Yellow Submarine” and danced to “The Hokey Pokey.” Donna Bartley, 79, sat next to a sandy-haired boy, whom she encouraged to dance with her alongside their chairs.

“The more they dance, the more they love it,” Bartley said, adding that her companion was becoming particularly adept. “I just love all the children. They are so sweet.”

Asked if she had children of her own, Bartley said she didn’t. When a Thelma’s Place employee reminded her that the turquoise-colored earrings she wore were a gift from a son, her face flickered in recognition before she returned her attention to her pint-sized dance partner.

Roderick said these drop-in interactions not only stimulate seniors but offer respite to their caregivers, who are often overburdened family members.

“Being stuck at home is a vicious cycle for dementia patients,” Roderick said. The lack of interaction accelerates depression and fosters inactivity, which speeds up physical deterioration, she said.

“(These seniors) are pretty high-functioning. If you saw them walking down the street, you probably wouldn’t know they had dementia until you had a conversation with them,” Roderick said. “But 99 percent of these folks love children, and when a child walks into their presence, there is an immediate glow, a smile and an (out-stretched) hand. It’s pretty awesome.”

Emit, whose grandmother is a program coordinator at Thelma’s Place, spoke in bursts about a recent field trip with the grandpals to a pizzeria.

“I didn’t want to leave there!” he said, grinning. There, he’d struck up a rapport with Neal, who took to calling him “a lil’ feller” and treated him to a fruit-flavored sucker. The two enjoy finger painting together.

“You’ll watch special connections begin to grow,” Franco said, adding how similar personalities will recognize each other despite decades in age difference.

Ruby Hopper, 6, had costumed herself in a pink cape, tutu and purple sequin vest. She said she feels “happy. Happy-happy!” when she spends time with her grandpals, who have taught her how to play Tic-Tac-Toe, a now-favorite game. Sitting at the same table, Shilo Bright, 4, inspires seniors with her love of drawing, prompting those who typically don’t doodle to join in, caregivers said. In fact, children often serve as an appreciative audience.

Ken Porter, 85, is originally from Berkeley, California, where he enjoyed a career as a school psychologist, and previously sang in a quartet called “Vocal Seniority” — “not ‘Vocal Senility,’” he said with a wink. On this afternoon, he performed a song called “Don’t you worry about getting old” that included the lyrics:

“Even though I’m wrinkled, and gained a little weight, gee, I still got it all/Singing with the gang every Saturday night, I feel about 10 feet tall,” crooned Porter. “You may think my days are numbered, you may think my life is done/Well you’re wrong, ‘cause I’m still havin’ fun.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7816, pmadsen@bendbulletin.com

Blueprint to Make America Great Again Threatens to Pit Old Against Young

Make no mistake-the President’s proposed budget would shred the compact that binds generations together through decade’s old, effective social insurance, health care and other programs.

News of the president’s budget has various advocacy groups pushing out statements about the devastating impact of cuts to the children, youth, families, older adults and other vulnerable groups.

News coverage about the budget focuses on cuts to one vulnerable population at the expense of the other. One New York Times headline stated: “Trump budget cuts programs for poor while sparing many old people.”

Yet such analysis misses a fundamental value of American Society that both sides of the aisle agree on — we are all part of families, neighborhoods and communities. Whether we share a roof, rely on each other for caregiving, or help provide a loan or other help in hard times, our lives and well-being affect one another.

Cuts to a grandchild hurt their grandparents. We are bound together by a social compact.

Policy changes that eliminate or reduce critical benefits, supports and services for family members, caregivers and neighbors negatively impact the children, youth, and older people they support and care for. Likewise, smart investments in people of one generation reap benefits for those in another generation in the form of a stronger workforce and ensuring the quality of life and well-being.

American’s get it. A recent national survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Generations United and The Eisner Foundation found that over 90 percent of adults surveyed thought that children AND elders were vulnerable populations that society has an obligation to protect.

The proposed budget would create false choices and hurt family members of all ages deeply.

Specifically it would:

Cut Medicaid and the Children’s State Health Insurance Program. It would take us back to the days when one grandmother we knew spent down her entire retirement savings to access badly needed dental care for her grandson and countless families could only turn to emergency rooms for care.

Eliminate the Social Services Block Grant. Critical, flexible resources that allow states and counties to meet the diverse local needs of children, older adults and people with disabilities including protecting them from abuse and neglect.

Dismantle Social Security. Social Security is more than a retirement program. It is a family protection program designed to support families when faced with disability, death of a parent or retirement. It keeps grandparents who are raising grandchildren out of poverty, a critical role as grandparents are increasing called to step in to parent their grandchildren as our country faces the devastation of the opioid epidemic. Failing to protect the entirety of Social Security is a failure for children, families and older people alike.

Increase hunger for children and older adults. Cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program hurts families that struggle every day with feeding those they love.

Cuts hurt children, families and older people now and into the future. If we neglect thoughtful investments across the lifespans and abandon support for the growing interdependence of generations, we risk failure in the form of wasteful spending, increased public divisiveness, and policies injurious to American families and communities.

The so called Blueprint to Make America Great Again should be dead on arrival. Our policy makers can do much better to help make families stronger. American’s value family and that’s only one of the many things that makes us great.

Old And Young Want To Get To Know Each Other Better

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By Sally Abrahms, Next Avenue Contributor 

In a national report released today, two out of three adults surveyed said they want to spend time with people who aren’t their age, while three in four wish there were more opportunities to get to know different age groups. Why, then, aren’t there more intergenerational programs and initiatives?

I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, And What We Can Achieve Together, published by the nonprofits Generations United and The Eisner Foundation, lays out the case for more mixing of the generations, and suggests ways to achieve it.

The online Harris Poll survey of 2,171 U.S. adults ages 18+ conducted in February 2017 for this report, points to few opportunities for interaction. According to the report, in the U.S., “intergenerational friendships are the exception rather than the rule: for the most part, age segregation prevails.”

Separation Between the Generations Begins Early

Consider this: Students go to school with peers, older adults often live in retirement communities or assisted living, college students hang out together in dorms and classes, youngsters attend day care. Neighborhoods are often segregated, with six in 10 leaning either young or old.

In the survey, 53% of people said they rarely spent time with other age groups except family members. The demographic with the least contact with other generations: 18- to 34-year-olds.

Not having exposure to different ages often leads to ageism, an us-vs.-them mentality, and missed opportunities, maintains the report. In fact, 76% of adults surveyed believe ageism is a serious societal problem.

But, the report says, there are some encouraging signs.

 

“A scattering of pioneers in both the public and private sectors have already begun the work of reuniting the generations, and they’re reaping extraordinary results,” the report says. “Through carefully designed ‘intergenerational programs’ in towns and cities around the country, kids are getting the attention they need, elders are finding purposeand connection, and the two groups are working together to make their communities better places to live.”

Intergenerational Partnerships Benefit All

When generations work together, this can break down stereotypes, change attitudes and lives, foster mutual empathy and improve communities. Intergenerational partnerships allow each group to see the other as individuals, just people — rather than “old” or “young.”

Adults can share their knowledge (through mentoring and tutoring) as well as provide love, attention and emotional support. Many older adults have time and want to spend it doing something that really matters.

The report notes that intergenerational programs can also improve kids’ and teens’ social skills;,self-esteem, school performance and decision-making, while expanding their world. By contrast, children offer affection, purpose and fun, reducing the loneliness that consumes many older adults. That loneliness can lead to depression, isolation and poor physical health.

And, there are advantages to communities that mix the generations, the report says. Shared spaces and various programs under one roof make intergenerational contact informal and ongoing. These might include pairings of a day care center and a long-term care facility, a Headstart program with a congregate meal site or an alternative high school with a clothing and food pantry. Equally important, sharing facilities and resources is cost-effective, saving taxpayers money.

The Power of Sharing Stories

One example highlighted in the report is a project started by residents at the Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md., a continuing care retirement community.

Recently, the group has been working with a nonprofit that helps Muslim kids cope with discrimination. A panel of older adults from Asbury shared their experiences of discrimination as part of a Courageous Conversation series: one Asbury resident fled the Holocaust as a little girl; another was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

Zahra Riaz, 18, immigrated to the United States from Kuwait eight years ago. Because she wears a hijab, she was called “towel head” and “terrorist” by kids at her junior high in Texas. Since moving to Maryland, things have been better, but she still feels gets unwelcome stares. Sometimes, she feels unsafe, the report said.

It helped to be part of a Courageous Conversation, Riaz said.

“When I heard those people’s stories, I thought to myself, ‘It’s not just Muslims; it’s other cultures, too, that have been discriminated against. And it’s not just me, one Muslim; it’s many Muslims who have been impacted,’” the report quoted her as saying.

Riaz is especially grateful for some advice the now-90-year-old Japanese internment survivor gave her.

“She said, ‘Don’t be bitter in life. You’ll go through a lot of things; people will try to break you. But you have to try to be positive, and you have to move on with a smile on your face,’” the report said.

An Interest in Connecting

There is deep interest in intergenerational interaction. According to the report:

  • 77% of adults wish there were more opportunities for intergenerational interaction in their community
  • 92% of adults believe that older adults benefit from having relationships with children and 93% think kids gain greatly from interacting, and getting to know, adults
  • 93% say children and young people are vulnerable and should be protected; 92% feel similarly about older adults
  • 88% of adults want the federal government to invest in the well being of both old and young

Successful Intergenerational Initiatives

Take a look at four of the programs highlighted in the report:

  1. DOROT — A New York City program that has 7,000 children, teens and young adults visit 3,000 isolated older adults and has an intergenerational book club, baking program, arts and crafts, singing and mentoring
  2. San Diego County — Its local government has a team of five intergenerational coordinators tasked with finding volunteer older adults for needy kids
  3. Asbury Retirement Community — As mentioned above, this retirement community in Gaithersburg, Md., partnered with a nonprofit for immigrant and Muslim youth to discuss the older adults’ past discrimination and the children’s current discrimination through a program called Courageous Conversations.
  4. St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care — Preschoolers and older adults both attend the day care program, with formal intergenerational activities twice daily and ongoing informal interaction.

Intergenerational relationships benefit everyone in them, report says

Intergenerational relationships benefit everyone in them, report says
Intergenerational relationships benefit everyone in them, report says.

Some residents of Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, MD, have teamed up with a nonprofit organization that serves immigrant and Muslim youth to launch a series of “Courageous Conversations” between elders who faced discrimination in the past and kids who are facing it now.

Residents of Longview, an upstate New York independent and assisted living community founded in partnership with Ithaca College, enjoy on-site performances by college student musicians and dancers, share their life stories with history and journalism majors, discuss the aging process with gerontology scholars, and are treated by budding physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapists. Residents also use the college’s pool and library, attend plays and other events on campus, and audit college courses.

In California’s San Diego County, a group of approximately 10 older adults pay a below-market rate to live on the campus of San Pasqual Academy, a boarding school for foster teens. In exchange, they collaborate with students on art projects; take them to museums, plays and other events off campus; and are involved with them in other ways.

These are just three of the examples of intergenerational relationships presented in a new reportby Generations United and the Eisner Foundation.

Such relationships have benefits for older adults, younger people and society in general, according to the authors of “I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, and What We Can Achieve Together.”

An online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Poll on the organizations’ behalf found that 93% of U.S. adults believe that children and youth benefit from building relationships with older adults, and 91% agree that older adults benefit from these relationships. The survey also found that 78% of adults think that the federal government should invest in programs that bring together younger and older Americans.

To encourage such relationships, the report authors recommend that retirement community residents think about challenges faced by nearby children and how they could help. They also suggest that members of Congress be lobbied to amend the Older Americans Act and Housing for Older Persons Act, which fund senior centers and seniors housing complexes, to encourage intergenerational programs.

“There are already provisions in the Older Americans Act to stimulate the development of shared sites, but these provisions haven’t been sufficiently funded,” they wrote. “Congress should also support the Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which finances cost-effective, evidence-based volunteer programs around the country.”

New intergenerational center is on mission to bridge gap between Grand Rapids’ oldest, youngest

5/11/17 10:18am

The new Bethlehem Intergenerational Center, formerly Hill Child Development Center, now offers open senior enrollment for full day programming to serve up to 35 seniors per day.
Bethlehem Intergenerational Center Director Sue Davidson (left) and Pastor Jay Schrimpf (right) pose in the new "Rose Room."

Marjorie Steele

Bethlehem Intergenerational Center Director Sue Davidson (left) and Pastor Jay Schrimpf (right) pose in the new “Rose Room.”

Bethlehem Lutheran Church made the decision to expand its Hill Child Development Center (Hill CDC) into a multi-wing Intergenerational Center in the same way the church has made similarly landmark changes in the past: as a congregation.

The conversation began about two years ago, when Pastor Jay Schrimpf and the congregation began asking themselves, “What’s the next big thing?” More specifically: what’s the next big way to fulfill their mission to be in service to the local community?

That next big thing has officially opened as the new Bethlehem Intergenerational Center, formerly Hill CDC, now offering open senior enrollment for full day programming to serve up to 35 seniors per day, in addition to the 45-60 children it serves currently. The center’s two wings – the Senior Wing and the Early Childhood Wing – are located in the same building, connected by the church’s main lobby for easy access between the two wings.

“We call it ‘the pathway,’ because the kids started calling it that,” says Sue Davidson, Director of Hill CDC. “And the name is perfect, because a pathway goes both ways – it brings us together. It won’t just be the kids visiting the Senior Wing; our elder friends will come to visit the kids’ classrooms as well.”

In addition to redeveloping the Senior Wing into an ADA-compliant facility, the Center has hired two new program managers to oversee Early Childhood and Senior Care, a professionally trained chef to serve both wings, and will hire Senior Care support staff to scale with senior enrollment.

While many of the intergenerational centers in other areas of the country follow a “co-located” model, in which two separate organizations collaborate, Bethlehem Intergenerational Center is one unified organization by design.

“We’ve been intentional about creating a model that builds real relationships, where the kids and seniors can spend real time,” says Davidson. “We’ve worked hard to make sure we’re all one.” Newly hired Senior Care staff have already logged hours in the childrens’ classrooms, to familiarize themselves with Early Childhood programming.

The goal of the new Center: to improve the quality of life of the community’s youngest and oldest. Research indicates that for seniors, spending time in supervised day programming with children reduces the need for medication use, instances of falls and hospitalization, and generally improves quality of life. For children, routinely interacting with seniors helps them to develop mutual respect for limitations, normalizes differences between people, and allows for real quality time with older adults in an era when quality time with parents can be very limited.

All of which fits neatly into the mission of the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation.

In 2007, the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation iterated their pattern of taking bold, mission-driven steps, when it moved from its historic home in a Gothic Revival building on Prospect into a renovated parking garage in downtown’s Heartside district – smack in the center of the city’s largest population of homeless people. The congregation chose to let go of their beautiful (and deeply nostalgic) building in order to move next door to the community they felt driven to serve.

While the congregation’s decision in 2007 may have ruffled many parishioners’ feathers, the opening of Bethlehem Intergenerational Center received unanimous support.

When the congregation brainstormed what the “next big thing” would be two years ago, two main options rose to the surface: 1) to expand the existing Hill CDC, or 2) to open an intergenerational center which would provide quality care to both children and seniors.

Bethlehem Lutheran’s Hill CDC has been a staple ministry of the congregation since 1971, proudly displaying its accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – which is widely considered the “gold standard” for preschool accreditations. Hill CDC offers financial aid to its clients based on income.

Despite the longstanding success of Hill CDC, Davidson knew that expanding it wouldn’t help the church fulfill its mission. “If we became any bigger, then we couldn’t have the kind of personal relationships with our clients that are so important,” she says.

The intergenerational center, then, was the logical next step. Davidson and Schrimpf made in person visits to four intergenerational sites across the country as they investigated the best model for the new center. Grand Rapids’ DDA provided $50,000 in assistance to cover a portion of the costs associated with ADA-compliant redevelopment.

The church itself has donated over six figures to support the venture – a hefty tithe from a congregation of just 225 parishioners.

Candidates for Senior Care at the Center are adults aged 65+ who “need adult help throughout the day,” says Schrimpf. This may range from adults who are living in care facilities, to those who live semi-independently in their homes with some help from family or caregivers.

Vertical gardens are being installed on the side of the building, as an ergonomic area for kids and seniors to garden together.

As for the Early Childhood Wing, the youngest clients of the new Center are ready to make new friends in the “Rose Room” – i.e. Senior Wing. Hill CDC kids were actively engaged throughout the construction process, and have been learning about what to expect in their new elder friends.

Schrimpf admits that, being a man past his youth who loves children and seldom sees his grandchildren, he can’t help but see a personal benefit to the program.

“What a gift it would be,” he says, “if in 15 years and I’m struggling with my health, I could spend my days with those kids.”

Project for Public Spaces

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I recently had the priviledge to sit down with Dr Klugman and talk about Space Coast Intergenerational Center. He loved it!

In our Citizen Placemaker seriesScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 5.38.19 PM, we chat with amazing and inspiring people from outside the architecture, planning, and government worlds (the more traditional haunts of Placemakers) whose work exemplifies how creating great places goes far beyond the physical spaces that make up our cities.

Recently, we spoke with Ed Klugman, an advocate for inter-generational play and learning with more than six decades of experience with early childhood education. Ed lives in the Boston metropolitan area, where he works with various organizations to create places that build social capital by connecting people across generations.

 

How did you come to be an advocate for inter-generational learning and play? What motivates you to do this work?

I was born in Nuernberg, Germany, and lived under Hitler. When I was 13, the Nazis destroyed our apartment. I wound up in the UK via the Children’s Transport, and after that I came to the United States to reunite with my family. So I experienced the US as an immigrant; this is where I learned about Democracy. What stands out in my mind today are the Four Freedoms—the freedom of speech, of worship, from want, and from fear; that impressed me, because that wasn’t part of my history. Where I came from, you didn’t talk, you hid. Experiencing that kind of freedom felt wild.  So I have always enjoyed learning, and especially learning with people. I enjoy learning with children; that’s part of why I became a teacher. Wherever I am, if I am learning, I’m having fun. And when I’m teaching, I’m always learning from the children. There are so many benefits to learning together, but in our society today we layer things—toddlers over here, teens over there, adults farther off. Take a look at how play areas are organized in the US in public spaces; that tells you a lot about how we think about our society.

We talk about that a lot at PPS–the idea that so much of our society is siloed. City agencies, activities, destinations–all of these things exist in many thick-walled silos. How does focusing on inter-generational learning and play help with “silo-busting”?

As I’ve uncovered in my own personal research and experience, play is really part of learning throughout the life cycle. Even after 65, you keep learning if you’re open to it! We get and give energy throughout the life cycle, and by training and encouraging people to recognize that, we can create communities where sharing and collaborating are core values. Our public spaces are shared space, and right now they are suffering because we have not been acculturated into living and learning together at the very local level. Inter-generational play in public spaces, for instance, teaches us how to communicate with people who are different from ourselves, and who have very different viewpoints. Children learn from grandparents, grandparents learn from teenagers, teenagers learn from children; it’s reciprocal. This teaches us to become responsible not just for ourselves, but for our larger communities.

What do you think an ideal inter-generational play area looks and feels like?

When you’re trying to get people across three, four, five generations to play and learn together, the key is to give people opportunities to share and learn from each others’ different perspectives. You need to create an environment where they have many loose, flexible activities in a seamless environment. A picnic is one thing. Watching is another thing. Comparing what they see, that’s the key. It’s not just doing, it’s inventing. A place that encourages this kind of sharing is a place that really leads you toward communication with one another, rather than layering you, and separating your activities.

And these places shouldn’t be siloed, themselves, of course. How do you see inter-generational public spaces fitting into larger communities?

Look at the way that we do housing, today. A lot of housing is layered, just like our play spaces. People who are married live in one area, the single people in another area. People who have children and are married in yet a third area. God forbid you have all the people in that same setting! Our communities tend to be set up to perform one goal: housing. Not collaboration, talk, etc. When we talk about inter-generational activities and places and spaces, it is critical that we take a holistic approach, rather than the fragmented approach that’s so common today. Public spaces are just one part of the larger communities that we share.

Having contact or knowing about a person and their life’s journey leaves an indelible kind of legacy. It’s something to draw on, something to respect. The Jews who were driven out of Nuernberg, for instance, have an annual gathering in the Catskills that I’m hoping to take my children and grandchildren to soon. An activity like that can expose them to the fact that there are others from whom you can benefit and they become part of your overall network. We do it in Facebook, but it’s impersonal. It becomes personal once you really make contact, live together, exchange on a face to face basis, rather than in a virtual world.

What are you doing in your own work to create more of these places out in the real world?

I’m working, at the moment, on a committee in Cambridge, that focuses on inter-generational activity here. A few weeks ago, we hosted an event along the Charles River, where we tried to create the kind of environment described above. We wanted to encourage people to experience and imagine what it would be like to have more of these places where multiple generations could go together to play, and to learn. I also belong to the Early Childhood World Forum. We have a group of architects and designers who are working on determining how design can help shape places and encourage inter-generational communication and sharing. They’re meeting in Berkeley right now, to have an interdisciplinary discussion about this very subject; I wasn’t able to attend, but I worked with the co-chair of that conference to help shape the questions that will be asked. So at the moment, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what they come up with!

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