Editor's Rather Long Note: In the beginning of April, Mid Atlantic Cohousing will launch the first ever Collaboratory* on "Aging in Community." The Participatory Action Research** project led by aging in community expert, Janice Blanchard founder of Aging Better Together, will follow 12 cohousing communities. Six of the communities will participate in a year long collaboratory, a new model for assisting communities to custom-craft aging care plans that build on the strengths and address the needs of their aging members. During the same time period, Aging Better Together and MAC will gather information from six additional cohousing communities that are each following their own path around aging in community.
*A collaboratory is an inclusive learning environment where action learning and action research meet. The collaboratory's primary aim is to foster
collective creativity to address complex issues.
**"Participatory research attempts to break down the distinction between
the researchers and the researched." (Gaventa 1988:19)
The following Aging in Community Values, Beliefs and Assumptions form the basis for this year long inquiry. Compiled by Blanchard, McCarthy, Thomas and Stambolian (2011) and then published in a paper by Janice Blanchard "Reweaving the Social Fabric" in Aging in Community (2013)
This will be the first of a series of posts that will follow the work of Janice Blanchard and the Aging in Community Collaboratory. Stay tuned!
Table 1. Aging-In-Community Beliefs, Values, and Assumptions
The following beliefs are integral to creating aging-in-community projects:
1 Aging is a normal part of life; it is not a problem.
2 Most people prefer and benefit from living in intergenerational neighborhoods (senior housing can be part of the larger neighborhood).
3 Good neighbors balance independence and interdependence.
4 Being good neighbors enhances the feeling of belonging to a community.
5 Everyone in a community has something to give and benefits from receiving from others. Good neighbors value reciprocity because giving and receiving strengthens social ties and provides meaning and purpose.
6 Informal relationships over time build trust, connectedness, and social capital which, like financial capital, can be intentionally earned, stored, and expended to meet our needs.
7 Most of the help people need can be provided by good neighbors, friends, and family.
8 Not everyone works full time away from home; therefore, help is often available when needed, especially when planned in advance.
9 The opportunity to get to know and help others can be enhanced with periodic community get-togethers where information and resources can be shared and planning can occur.
10 There is leadership and a core group who are willing to take action to support neighbors aging in their homes and staying connected to their communities.
11 Providing a broad range of care options as well as senior-friendly services (e.g., plumbing and electrical) can be enhanced by partnering with organizations within the larger community.
12 Each community (and individual) will have to address the threshold of the level of care that they are willing and able to provide to neighbors with physical, mental or cognitive impairment.
(Blanchard, McCarthy, Thomas, and Stambolian, 2011. Unpublished manuscript. Later published in Aging in Community, 2013)
Janice Blanchard, MSPH, is President of Aging Better, Together and editor of the recently published book, Aging in Community (2013). For the past 25 years Blanchard has worked in academic, government and non-profit organizations to promote a positive culture of aging and to shift the paradigm from aging in place, to aging in community. She has been a chief social architect with numerous aging initiatives, including strategic plans such as the Age Matters Initiative for City and County of Denver and Silverprint for the State of Colorado. Her professional practice is rooted in her personal experience – Blanchard has been a caregiver for the length of her career in Gerontology for her grandmother, mother, and for the past 8 years, her father and stepmother. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cohousing Toolbox
Sometimes you just need TOOLS to help you on your way. Whether you are a newly forming group or a well established community, here's some stuff designed to grease the skids of cohousing.
Aging in Community
Reweaving the Social Fabric of Our Communities
Aging in Community: The Communitarian Alternative to Aging in Place, Alone
Connecting Generations Housing Opportunity 2014-Intergenerational Living: Housing and Communities for all Ages
Changing Choices -- Aging in Place in the 21st Century
An Intimate Dinner Date
Another Editor's Note: Starting with this upload to the MAC blog we will no longer reproduce the entire contents of the weekly newsletter. We will publish the main article and when appropriate The Toolbox.
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Ann Zabaldo is a passionate promoter of cohousing. She was on the develoment team for Eastern Village in Silver Spring, MD and Takoma Village in Washington, DC where she lives. She serves on the Board for MAC.
See cool blog for Emerson Commons.