With the promotion in the past few years to create age-friendly communities and dementia-friendly communities, my brain has been thinking of how this could change our way of looking at community living and intergenerational socialization.
Today, over my cup of coffee and thinking about a documentary I had seen on aging in Japan, I had one of those spark moments. You know, when you get an idea that seems like it could really make a difference in the world. Continue reading →
This forward-thinking program brings a preschool in to a home for elders. This provides a meaningful interaction for everyone involved – the children, the elderly, the teachers, and the family members. I really hope this catches on!
Watch the video, read the article, and donate to their Kickstarter campaign! Enjoy!
‘Present Perfect’ was filmed at the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement home in Seattle, Washington, also home to the Intergenerational Learning Center. Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away. This is a film about the very young and the very old, yes. But it’s also about something bigger, something harder to pin down, but so essential in every way. It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.
“Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of the nation.” -Margaret Mead
Why is this film important?
Present Perfect explores the very real experience of aging in America- both growing up, and growing old. It was filmed in a preschool housed completely within a retirement home, powerfully capturing the subtleties and complexities of the young children’s interactions with the elderly residents, while challenging us to consider what we’re doing- and what we’re not- to prepare future generations for what’s to come. What value does a person have to others throughout their life? Are we asking for the right contributions from each other? How do we measure and define a successful life? While this film doesn’t shy away from confronting some difficult realities, it is ultimately a life-affirming story of hope that, we believe, just might lead to serious positive change.
The Present Perfect team is asking you to join us by helping us raise the money we need to create a rough cut of the film, and bring this unique and valuable story to life. We need your support to make this happen!
ABOUT THE FILM
The inspiration for Present Perfect stemmed from a longstanding desire to explore the experience of aging in America. As a filmmaker, I’m drawn to simple, subtle stories that provide a framework for much bigger ideas, stories that promote reflection, revealing new layers of complexity that ultimately expand our way of thinking about a particular topic and even, perhaps, our entire world view. I love films that really make you think– and not just in the moment, but for days, weeks, even months following. After spending a few days observing the residents and kids at The Mount, I knew this was one of those stories.
Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away.
When I heard about the Mount and its Intergenerational Learning Center, I was struck by the simple perfection of the concept. I was further intrigued by the idea that with neither past nor future in common, the relationships between the children and the residents exist entirely in the present. Despite the difference in their years, their entire sense of time seems more closely aligned. As busy, frazzled, perpetually multi-tasking adults, we are always admonished to live ‘in the moment’. But what does that mean? And with the endless distractions provided by our smart phones and numerous other devices, how can we? I was curious to observe these two groups, occupying opposite ends of the life spectrum, to see firsthand what it meant for them to simply be present with each other.
Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society. And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is- for us all.
Over the course of the months I was filming at the Mount, I observed many incredible exchanges between residents and kids. Some were sweet, some awkward, some funny- all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real. One experience in particular occurred during a morning visit between the toddler classroom and several residents who had gathered to sing songs together. Everyone had just finished a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” when one of the residents began to share a memory he had of singing that very same song late at night on a bus full of soldiers while serving overseas during World War II.
The clarity with which this gentleman recalled this era of his life so many years ago was breathtaking- the memory seeming to appear before his eyes as he spoke. And though the kids were too young to understand his words, the fact that their presence provided a catalyst for his recollection just seemed to fit in a ‘circle of life’ kind of way. I’ve reflected on that moment many times since- it was beautiful and profound, and I was grateful to have been there to witness it. Those small, quiet moments are often the ones that contain the most meaning, and sadly are also the ones that most of us are too busy and distracted in our day-to-day lives to notice.
This is a film about the very young and the very old, yes. But it’s also about something bigger, something harder to pin down, but so essential in every way. In the words of Susan Bosak, founder of the Legacy Project, “It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Present Perfect was filmed at the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement home in Seattle, WA, also home to the Intergenerational Learning Center, over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. This project has been one gigantic labor of love, funded entirely out of my own pocket for the first two years. I invested in new camera and audio equipment so that I could function as a one-woman crew and truly embed myself in the environment. I paid babysitters to watch my kids so that I could film three times a week for the entire school year, and I’ve spent countless hours applying for grants and pitching this film to as many people as possible. All of this in addition to juggling my regular paid work as a freelance producer and adjunct professor of film! And it doesn’t stop there. Numerous friends and colleagues have generously donated their time and talents to help get the film to where it is now, while a handful of friends and family contributed funds allowing me to hire an editor to help put together the trailer you see above. I am so grateful to everyone who has had a hand in seeing this project get off the ground.We are well on our way!
Now we need to raise enough to complete the edit. That’s where you come in! All of the feedback I have received from industry professionals as well as regular folks has been extremely positive! The project was even awarded a grant in 2013 by Artist Trust, an organization that supports Washington State artists.People are intrigued and want to see more! In order to make that happen we need to bring on an experienced documentary editor to provide a fresh perspective and help to shape the story from the amazing footage we have to work with. Fortunately the film has been shot already- the footage is in hand! But post-production is not cheap. We need to raise at least $50,000 to pay for the edit of this film.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
For those of you who may not be familiar with Kickstarter, it’s an all or nothing deal. We have to raise the full amount in order to get any money at all. Any donation, no matter how small, helps in a major way! The goal is to get this project seen by as many people as possible. So in addition to giving to the campaign, you can also help by sharing this Kickstarter page and spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, phone, bike messenger, telegram, or by simply shouting it from the mountain tops!
We’ve set a goal of raising $50,000 to pay for the edit, but with $75,000 we could cover some additional costs necessary to complete the film including:
composition of an original score
So if we make it to $50,000- let’s keep going!
All of the money raised by this Kickstarter campaign will go directly toward the editing of this film. We have high hopes for this project and are committed to seeing it reach its full potential. With your help, it can happen!
What would happen if you paired the very young with the very old?
It’s being done at a preschool in Seattle, where child care takes place throughout a campus which is also home to more than 400 older adults.
Called the Intergenerational Learning Center, the preschool is located within Providence Mount St. Vincent, a senior care center in West Seattle. Five days a week, the children and residents come together in a variety of planned activities such as music, dancing, art, lunch, storytelling or just visiting.
And now this incredible place is about to have its own film. Called “Present Perfect,” it was shot over the course of the 2012-2013 school year by filmmaker Evan Briggs, who is also an adjunct professor at Seattle University. Funded completely out of her own pocket and shot by her alone, Briggs has now launched a Kickstarter to fund the editing of the movie. She has more than $45,000 of her $50,000 goal with 15 days to go.
Interestingly, the parents of the students don’t send their kids to the Intergenerational Learning Center primarily for the experience with the seniors. “It’s got a great reputation and great teachers,” said Briggs. But parents of kids who were in the class that she embedded herself in for the school year now tell her they see the benefit of the model. “One father told me that he especially sees it now that his own parents are aging.”
She named the film “Present Perfect” she said, as a reference to the fact that these two groups of people — the preschoolers, who have almost no past and so much future and the elderly who such rich past but very little future — really only have a few years of overlap in their lives.
“It’s also about being in the present moment,” Briggs said, “something so many adults struggle with.”
Briggs said the moments between the kids and the residents “sweet, some awkward, some funny — all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real.”
Briggs hopes her film will open a conversation about aging in America. She writes on her Kickstarter, “Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society. And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is for us all.”
She called the preschool a “genius” idea that is “well within our reach” on a larger scale and hopes the idea expands to other schools around the country. “It’s a great example of how we integrate the elderly into society.”
NINETY-TWO-YEAR-OLD Johanna beams at the 20-year-old stepping into her room — not a visiting grandson, but rather a housemate at her retirement home.
Town planning student Jurrien is one of six who have chosen to live in the yellow-brick home in Deventer in the eastern Netherlands as part of a unique project that benefits everyone.
The university students pay no rent and in exchange spend at least 30 hours a month with some of the 160 elderly who live here, doing the things professional staff cannot always do — such as just hanging out.