Friday, January 13, 2017

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Book Review

by Taylor Patskanick

This poignant story by Fredrik Backman often defies reality in the pursuit of celebrating the diversity of human experiences.

Elsa, an extraordinary seven-year-old, is something of an outsider among her peers; and Granny, an eccentric 77-year-old, is her best friend and superhero.

Granny tells Elsa nightly bedtime fairytales about the Land of Almost-Awake and its legendary six kingdoms in a wardrobe that seems to grow with Elsa inside of Granny’s apartment. But when Granny loses her battle with cancer, Elsa is tasked with the adventure of a lifetime to deliver apology letters from Granny to others from throughout her life. 

Gradually, Elsa meets many new friends in her apartment building with characteristics and histories that mirror the stories she has heard from the Land of Almost-Awake. 

Meet Alf, a cantankerous cab driver; Britt-Marie, the fussy leader of the “leaseholder’s association;” the Monster, a soft-hearted germaphobe; and a wurse, a bizarre creature that loves chocolate. 

Those are just a few of the acquaintances Elsa befriends. Not only do these new friends help Elsa fill the hollowness of Granny’s death, but they become important allies when their apartment building is threatened by an enemy likened to a fearsome dragon in the Land of Almost-Awake.

Backman’s words are whimsical and charismatic, highlighting the complexity of our greatest social concerns today - bullying, domestic violence, feminism, mental illness, grief, loss and more. 

The intersection of Granny’s past and Elsa’s present through the fairytales will captivate and enchant you - reminding us of the need for empathy in understanding others' experiences of others, while showing the limitless power of the grandmother-grandchild relationship.

Backman’s quirky writing style might take some adjusting too, but I enjoyed experiencing life through the eyes of a 7- going on 8-year-old, though the fairytales are also meant for adults. 

As we grow up and life becomes complicated, we think we have to let go of our heroes from childhood stories. Backman pushes back against these ideas, proposing that perhaps life does not have to be this way. 

Elsa and Granny’s story is one example of how generations connect through stories.

Let’s continue the conversation:

How has intergenerational storytelling influenced your life or your family?

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Taylor is an MSW/MPH candidate at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She is also a Master’s Research Fellow in Aging with the Friedman Center for Aging at Washington University’s Institute for Public Health.

Six Winners

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

This week's cool idea is Six Winners, a social empowerment component of the NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem. The program pairs older adult mentors with African American and Latino males ages 13 to 24.

(Check our archives for parts 1-89 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9)

Trained mentors teach young men specific skills to help them develop personal goals and enhance their self-sufficiency by working with them on strategies to achieve those goals. The program includes counseling, social skills development, preparation for the workplace, and understanding of fatherhood responsibilities.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Monday, January 09, 2017

MentorCHIP

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.
This week's cool idea is MentorCHIP in New York, which offers site-based mentoring to children and youth through older adult volunteers at partnering organizations.

(Check our archives for parts 1-89 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9)

Through an academic and asset-building focus, mentors help build the confidence and resilience of children ages 6–16 whose parents are incarcerated. The program’s goal is to significantly improve the cognitive, social, and lifelong learning of children who are affected by incarceration.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Meet Generations United's Reviewers


Mary Elliot graduated from Eastern University in May with a degree in Philosophy, Sociology, and Economics. Currently residing in Boston, Mary works remotely as a research assistant for a scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. A long time volunteer with associations that serve the elderly, Mary is interested in what intergenerational experiences may teach us regarding plurality and difference.




Nancy E. S. Wood, MSW, BSN: She founded Families Turning, LLC to address the needs of adult family members as they come back together emotionally and/or physically in order to live into more harmonious and fulfilling relationships and attend to important discussions. She writes and provides workshops on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of adult-to-adult family relationships. She was raised in an intergenerational home where she learned to value this type of community life and carried this passion into her careers as a professional nurse and therapist. When not working at Families Turning she can be found watching movies, in nature taking photos and hiking and spending time with members of her intergenerational household.



Taylor is a Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Public Health (MPH) candidate at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She is a Master’s Research Fellow in Aging at the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at Washington University’s Institute for Public Health. Her professional and research interests include geriatric health, intergenerational engagement & advocacy, and grandfamilies. When not reviewing for Generations United, she enjoys yoga, teaching color guard, and exploring the city of St. Louis

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Commons Methodist Home

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

This week's cool idea is The Commons Methodist Home in Oklahoma, which connects The Commons residents with children and youth through reading activities, music and student celebrations.

(Check our archives for parts 1-88 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)


The Commons United Methodist Health Care Center is part of an educational program for 4-year-olds, an Intergenerational Approach to Learning, which benefits both children and The Commons residents alike.

The program's youth along with the Commons' "grandmas and grandpas" provides a unique atmosphere for learning, caring and cooperation.

The Commons 4-year-old program is a collaborative effort between the United Methodist Health Care Center, Enid Public Schools and CDSA/Smart Start Northwest Oklahoma. 

The project is fully funded by Enid Public Schools and an Innovative Project Grant through Smart Start Oklahoma from the Inasmuch Foundation. The grant provides a professional teacher and assistant through Enid Public Schools.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lifesongs

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.


This week's cool idea is Lifesongs, an intergenerational arts project in New Mexico that promotes social inclusion and dignity for elders and people in hospice care.

(Check our archives for parts 1-87 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)

Lifesongs brings elders and people in hospice together with artists, youth, and other community members in creative exchange. Working one-on-one and in ensembles, participants develop original works that incorporate music, movement, and multimedia to explore the richness of all stages of life.

After many months of collaboration, the pieces are performed in a public concert by professional musicians, local choirs, and artists of all ages.

Through witnessing our elders’ songs and stories, we connect around what we share as opposed to what separates us, we bless and heal the past, and we hold our elders and the dying in their potential rather than their decline.


In addition to public performances and scalable concerts, Lifesongs provides free and public facilitated dialogues on death and dying with community partners. In 2015, Lifesongs launched the Story Gathering project. 

The Story Gathering project brings youth, community members, and elders together to share stories and life experiences. Participants collaboratively shape stories into new works of writing and art to present to the wider community. 

While deepening its roots in northern New Mexico, Lifesongs is carefully fostering and mentoring projects in other communities around the country.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!