OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Knowledge Tree

Initially the idea was a way for children to "adopt" a grandparent and create a new type of family. Now instead of creating a new Family Tree, the goal is to create a Knowledge Tree! Authentic relationships based on common interests or activities.

Photo of Kenny Arnold
33 24

Written by

Who might want to use Knowledge Tree?
Tommy is 10 years old and wants to learn about Outer Space.

Cindy is 68 years old and was an astronomer.

Stephen is 9 years old and wants to be a Paleontologist.

Rebecca is 71 years old and is a fossil hunter.

Sarah is 7 years old likes playing with her dolls and wants to know how they are made.

Zamir is 80 years old, an engineer and a toy maker.

Bianca is 14 years old and wants to help people in her community but doesn’t know how.

Richard is 74 years old and is still trying to help people in his community.

Michelle is 20 and wants to learn how to plant trees and start a farm.

Katrin is 82 and has been an urban farmer in Brooklyn for

the past 30 years.

Donna is 12 and wants to learn new recipes.

Luke is 76 and has been a professional chef for 40 years.

This concept began with the idea of "adopting a grandparent". However the core of the idea is creating a new relationship and after a great brainstorm session on how to implement "adopting a grandparent", th e Knowledge Tree came in to being. Knowledge Tree is about creating new and authentic relationships between those seeking knowledge and those with experience.

Imagine a system where users can search tagged subjects they wish to learn about or activities want to practice. Knowledge Tree would be a database of tagged knowledge, provide ways of getting connected, and its goal would be to create a community of people base upon real common interests.

This idea also ties in to many other concepts in terms of sharing the wisdom one accrues over time. It's goal is socially minded and long term community creation.

This concept has arisen out of my own personal experience of never knowing my grandparents, brainstorming during the inspiration phase, and reading various concepts already posted.

In my family I have an Aunts and Uncles who are technically not either. This has happened because I have a small family that is close. Personal relationships occur whether or not there is an actual genetic connection.

I have a single memory of one of my grandfathers and I never had a chance to know any of my other grandparents. As a child this made me sad anytime there was a report to interview one of your elders or an inter-generational day.

What if there was a way for children to adopt a grandparent? In the absence of a genetic connection, there could be room to create a real friendship and mentoring relationship as the child matures.

In addition to being able to share lifelong knowledge with a young child that wouldn't have access to that information, the genuine friendship could be priceless.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

Based on the comments below Adopt-a-Grandparent would be ideal as a school program.

Knowledge Tree could be offered with schools but it could also take place at community centers, and be organized independently anywhere else.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

The emotional and psychological value that's created from these new inter-generational relationships and the satisfaction of learning new things.

 Services that cater to the aged would have an interest in creating more of these relationships. Knowledge Tree could be promoted as a networking, mentoring, and learning opportunity.

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

Knowledge Tree can be prototyped locally by approaching members of my community to gauge interest.

The first step would be to create a pooled knowledge. An entire list of skills, hobbies, activities, etc that people want to share.

The second step is to disperse the information widely to as many potential "mentorees" as possible.

The third step is to facilitate the first encounter.

The form this could take can be a simple website where users can search knowledge they wish to learn, contact others, and share their meet up experience.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Jablow

Hey Kenny, hope you're doing well. I thought I'd reach out and see if you're interested in joining our new Youth Mentor Challenge sponsored by AARP Foundation? There are so many interesting overlaps between this current challenge, what we all learned together in the Healthy Aging Challenge last year, and your great idea here. I really enjoyed and appreciated your effort during the Healthy Aging Challenge – it'd be fun to have you join us for this challenge too. The Ideas phase just opened!

View all comments