Our Story

Treehouse Institute is a nonprofit organization focused on social innovation. We are always trying new things and helping others to as well. We think creative confidence and new perspectives are what we need today and will make tomorrow awesome.

Treehouse was founded after looking into questions raised at TEDxDirigo – “what happens next?” “how do we do more of this?” “what is ‘this?'”

Treehouse continues to support the production of TEDxDirigo and helped start TEDxYouth@CEHS, TEDxYouth@Biddeford, and TEDxSMCC.

We help launch new initiatives that connect people, places, and ideas. These, in turn, foster more resilient and prosperous communities.

In addition to supporting TEDxDirigo, Treehouse is nurturing the new Portland Global Shapers Hub, and Represent: Networking for Professionals of Color.

Everything we do is rooted in our mission:

We make connections between people, places, and ideas. In turn, these connections foster the growth of resilient and prosperous communities.   Being from Maine we understand the importance of both being resilient – hardy and able to bounce back – as well as prosperous – an abundance of financial, ecological, and social health.

We believe in hard work rooted in our values


Relationships matter. Actions > words. We are accountable for our impacts on others and the world.


Duct tape may or may not be part of the process (see prototyping).


Some Treehouses have signs that say “Keep Out.” Our's says “Come on in.” And if you find something you like or need while here you can borrow it.


Adam Burk


Adam Burk is a serial community builder and innovator. He has a knack and passion for working with people to accomplish things they have never done before. Recently, he has led teams to pen Portland’s first public charter school – Baxter Academy for Technology and Science; seed and grow 12 Farm to School programs; and develop Maine’s most successful conference for innovation and creativity – TEDxDirigo. His favorite accomplishment to date is becoming a dad.



Gil is an explorer, cross-cultural facilitator and entrepreneurial business leader. He has studied  international business and relations in Virginia/Washington, D.C. He’s lived in Russia and  attended school in Moscow and St. Petersburg. He’s designed and led cultural expeditions on the  Trans-Siberian Railway and along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road through China,  Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. He worked in Iran before returning to the  United States after 9/11 to begin building Frontier – a destination where people gather to explore  the world through food, film, music and art. Frontier has evolved into a special kind of meeting  place reminiscent of a traveler’s crossroads – where stories, ideas and culture interact to ignite  possibility, purpose and innovation. TEDxDirigo is one such initiative born from this interaction.


Alyssa Bouthot – The Swan Agency Sotheby’s International Realty
Caitlyn Davison – Orton Family Foundation
Caitie Whelan – Lightning Notes
Kate Howe – Better Yet Design + AIGA National Board
Mark Dvorozniak – Marketing Strategy Decisions
Sally Struever – 317 Main Community Music School + Little Giant
Tracy Floyd – 451 Research


A Reflection by Adam Burk:

The name Treehouse is an homage to my childhood experiences building treehouses in the woods near my childhood home. Fueled by curiosity, problem solving, and an awe for nature, I spent countless hours up in the trees. These treehouses were my first experience building something outside of anyone’s rules. I was constantly experimenting, failing, and learning. My materials were recycled and salvaged, and it was one of my earliest experiences understanding the vital connection between my endeavors and the natural world. The treehouses were adjacent places where my friends from all over the neighborhood would gather and create together. Problems and success were shared collectively. To this day, when I see treehouses, they invoke wonder, excitement and ingenuity. And so I thought the treehouse was the perfect symbol for the kind of spaces we create – rooted in their places, adjacent to existing structures, and inviting curiosity and experimentation.