It Takes a Village: VillagePDX.org Launches Aging-in-Place Village Movement in Portland
Portland,OR, March, 2012 –
A recent AARP survey found the 86% percent of respondents aged 45 and older hope to stay in their current residence as long as possible. However, many seniors are faced with the prospect of having to leave their homes as they age because they lack an adequate system of support to enable them to stay where they are.
A little over a decade ago, residents of the Boston Beacon Hill neighborhood began looking for a way to address this specific problem. And, in 2002, Beacon HillVillage, the first aging-in-place village, was born.
“The Beacon Hill Village founders all wanted to remain at home, even after transportation and household chores became difficult or dangerous, the point at which many older people quit familiar surroundings. They also wanted to avoid dependence on adult children. And they were unwilling to be herded by developers into cookie-cutter senior housing, and told what to do and when to do it by social workers half their age.” –NY Times, February 9, 2009
“We wanted everything you’d find in a retirement community or assisted living—but we wanted these services in our own homes,” explains Susan McWhinney-Morse, 72, the president of Beacon HillVillage, who was one of the 12 residents who helped create it. “We didn’t want to leave the neighborhood we love.” from the AARP Bulletin, “Declaration of Independents”, December 2005
So what exactly is an aging-in-place village? A village is a group of like-minded people in a neighborhood cluster who come together to figure out and develop the resources they will need to age comfortably in their own homes. These might include transportation, recreational activities, home repairs, discounted professional and group purchases, health and wellness programs, volunteer opportunities and more, all depending on the needs and interests of the community members who co-create the village.
Since the founding of Beacon Hill Village, over 65 nonprofit villages have sprung up across the country—including in San Francisco and Bend, OR—and there are hundreds more in development, like the NEST village being formed in Seattle. However, there aren’t any villages currently operating in thePortlandmetro-area.
This didn’t make sense to Chana and Richie Andler, two eastside boomers who are passionate about wanting to age in place. “Portland is such a logical place for Beacon Hill-style villages to take root,” observes Chana. “It has well-developed neighborhoods, it’s an “aging friendly city,” and there’s a strong spirit of community & volunteerism. Portlanders love their homes and their gardens. So why isn’t there a village here already? We decided that the only reason was no one has gotten around to starting one yet.”
So, the Andlers leveraged their professional skills in marketing and technology to develop the VillagePDX.org website (www.villagepdx.org) whose purpose is to help jump start the process of creating villages here inPortland. The site contains articles about aging-in-place and the village movement, links to other villages, the “Independently Aging” blog, a mailing list sign-up form, and a survey to help gauge the needs & interests of potential village members.
“Since we live inSE Portland, it’s obviously a personal priority to connect with other eastside residents who would be interested in develop a village for themselves or their parents,” explains Richie. “But we also want to help neighbors in other parts of the city connect with each other and begin the process of starting their own villages.”
The Andlers’ long-term plan for www.villagepdx.org is that it will serve as the portal for all the Portland-area villages which will someday exist, and a place for them to share inspiration, tools, resources, marketing collaterals, bylaws, organizational designs, provider referrals, and the stories of the successes & challenges they faced being developed.
“We’ve taken to heart the Gandhi quote: ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world.’” explains Chana. “If we want there to be a village when we need it down the road, we better do our part to make it happen. We hope there are a lot of other Portlanders who feel the same way.”
1. Become one of the village people (pun intended). Visit www.villagepdx.org to learn more about villages, sign-up for the mailing list, and complete the online survey.
2. Anyone who thinks they may be interested in helping get a village going in their neighborhood (no matter where in the Portland metro-area) is invited to attend one of the VillagePDX parlor meetings which will be held on Sunday, April 15 at 3:00pm or Thursday, April 19 at 7pm. To receive details about where and when these will take place, send an email to email@example.com or call 503-281-4698.
3. Help spread the word. Share info about VillagePDX and the village movement with your friends and neighbors.