Together-Green: Mind Finalist in This Year’s Challenge

Together Green Stanford Design Challenge prototype

Together-Green (Mind)

Team Lead: Carrie Gladstone
University: UC Berkeley

Using pairs of potted plants integrated with Internet-connected sensors, Together-Green enables families separated by distance to help each other monitor and care for their plants as a shared goal. It was inspired, says team lead Carrie Gladstone, by reading A Long Bright Future, from Stanford Center on Longevity’s Founding Director Laura Carstensen.

“The idea of empowering healthy longevity resonated with me, and when I finally returned to grad school, I was excited to participate. With a strong team — Anna with a business background in innovation, Abbey with experience in geriatric social work, and with my work in business and aging — we were excited to create something that could bring joy to older people. We wanted to create something for people — not just for disabled/seniors — and we loved how the Challenge focused on enhancing the positive aspects of an older individual’s life and what remains possible, and then magnified that with a product.”

Together-Green also had a personal source of inspiration: “Carrie’s friend Kisa (now in her mid-eighties) has been an avid gardener for most of her life, but tending a garden has recently become too much for her to manage on her own. We were looking for a way to help people like Kisa continue to experience the joy of gardening, while also nurturing their relationships with family and loved ones. Despite now living far from our grandparents, each of us has had special relationships with them, and wanted to find a way to connect with them beyond just day-to-day phone conversations about our activities and their ailments.”

Together Green Stanford Design Challenge

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Developing Together-Green
“We went through an intensive three month process of interviewing older adults and their families, gathering insights and testing ideas prior to our submission to the Challenge. In total, we had about four very different versions of the idea that we tested.”

Lessons Learned in Designing Together-Green
“Our biggest learning has been the importance of creating with older adults, not for older adults — and working not to project our own wants and needs onto them. For example, we have read a lot about the value of intergenerational relationships, so our original concept paired older adults with children in a local school to develop a relationship and grow plants together. When we tested this idea with older adults, we found they were very disinterested. While the local schools liked the idea, the older adults did not care about creating new friendships with random children; they would rather use the shared plant-growing experience with people they already know — to deepen their existing relationships.”

Future Plans for Together-Green
“If we win the challenge, we plan to work on our product across the next year, in particular building out the ecosystem around it that will make it successful and deliver real value to our customers and their loved ones.”