Like many other baby boomers, the experience of caring for elder parents had a profound effect on my vision of aging in America. Although, my work had been focused on improving the lives of seniors through the use of technology and options for aging in place, the realities of aging in place didn’t hit me until I became a full time caregiver....I can’t tell you how many times when introducing the concept of senior cohousing people light up and say, “My friends and I have always said that someday we want to live near and grow old together.” When I ask what is holding them back they reply, “It’s a dream of ours but we don’t know how to wrap our arms around it; to make it a reality.” This motivated me to create the Aging Better Together Conference in partnership with Coho/US.
“I feel different,” Essie said quizzically as she stood in front of her new condo in Germantown Commons, “I'm not dressing up as much as before.”
We had just started moving in to the brand new homes completed in August 2015. Germantown Commons is a 25 home cohousing community one mile from downtown Nashville And is surrounded by historic Victorian homes, cobblestone sidewalks with little white picket fences. The community is walkable to a coffee and chocolate shop and more than a dozen nice restaurants.
When lying awake last night reflecting on various decisions made in cohousing and in my neighborhood community, I explored some questions about what is open and transparent in a world where everyone belongs to several organizations and tries to involve and represent a larger community.
What is required to truly inform and solicit information about the needs, desires, or preferences of “the community.” How does a group know when it is being inclusive and transparent? And accountable?
I echo Jenny Godwin’s sentiments in her Social Portfolio blog in taking stock of our connections. Outside of cohousing, we live in a culture that values materialism and wealth, with social ties taking a back seat. This despite evidence that “social capital” is a significant factor in health and happiness - more even than eating right, and exercising. We’ve heard the claim that cohousing adds 10 years to your life, and we can believe it.
....“Your experiences today will influence the molecular composition of your body for the next two to three months, or perhaps, for the rest of your life. Plan your day accordingly.”
Have you ever felt a “feeling” of loneliness that seems physical and tangible?
Similar to the feeling of hunger, it seems the loneliness feeling serves an evolutionary need: We feel hungry so that we eat and don’t die. Likewise, we physically feel lonely so that we make connections with each other and we can collectively thrive.
A recent UCLA study now suggests a cellular connection to this physical feeling:
By Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach and Certified Senior Advisor, Aging in Community
You might think that this year's national cohousing conference is just for older people. Actually, "Aging Better Together" will have a lot that can serve cohousers, community co-creators and seekers of all ages, as it invites us to take a look at the realities of Aging in Community, from birth to death, in so many regards.
These are exciting times on the cohousing front in the Triangle area of North Carolina! Three forming senior cohousing communities are working cooperatively to spread the good news of cohousing as an innovative way to "do" aging differently than our parents.
... the list of Participating Communities for the National Open House Day that is!
IT'S HERE! Like a baby announcement we can't wait to let everyone know that the growing list of communities that have signed up to be an active part of the National Open House Day is live. Are you on it?? http://cohousing.org/openhouse2016/list If not... what is stopping you? ... start by filling out this form here - http://cohousing.org/2016/form - and stepping up to Champion the event within your home community.
This year Muir Commons celebrates its 25th anniversary. This means 25 years of cohousing in the United States! Even at the very beginning of this project, which is located in Davis, California, Katie and I could envision other cohousing communities taking root in the U.S. It was a dream we shared with many others. And since the creation of Muir Commons, we at McCamant & Durrett Architects (MDA) have helped this cohousing dream become a reality for more than 50 communities. It has been both our honor and privilege to talk the cohousing talk with the members of these communities, and then walk the cohousing walk with them, from inception to move-in and beyond. As we look forward to 2016, we would like to share remembrances from Muir Commons. The timeless spirit captured by these images and thoughts are indicative of cohousing communities around the country.