Seventh Annual Conference on Positive Aging

Positive aging 2014February 9th – 12th, 2014   ~   Sarasota, Florida

Over 400 conference-goers from around the world made their way to Sarasota, Florida for the Seventh Annual International Conference on Positive Aging.

The Conference was a highly interactive gathering of professionals from established and emerging businesses, academic research, government policy makers, and social service providers who participated in two and half days of dialogue and networking with their local, national, and international peers.  There were many options for participation for both professionals and local interested residents, including attendance at the keynote dinner with Ina Jaffe, National Public Radio National Correspondent covering all aspects of aging for NPR.”  ~  Institute of the Ages

Women Starting Over After 50 – 10/2013

IN Chapel Hill  Wed, Oct 16, 2013

Women Starting Over After 50 to Present Workshop – Tools For Women: Achieving a Prosperous Life After 50

Women Starting Over After 50 is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women during the second half of life. WSO50 has assembled a panel of experts to provide vital information, answer your questions, and empower you to “Achieve A Prosperous Life After 50.” Panelists include:
Lisa M. Gabriel, CFP, ChFC is Sr. Vice-President of Axius Financial. Lisa helps you navigate financially through life and prepare for and take control during life’s inevitable transitions.
Christina G. Hinkle, Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning & Probate Law, Tillman, Hinkle & Whichard, PLLC. Christina’s practice focuses on wills and trusts, estate and gift tax planning.
Marianne Kilkenny, founder of Women Living in Community, is an expert on the financial, safety and social benefits of the shared home model. Marianne has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, the CBS Early Show, ABC News and AARP. 
Madelyn Ashley, RN, MSN, is the owner of Senior Transitions of North Carolina. Since 1990, Madelyn has been assisting Seniors to live as independently as possible in a safe environment.
Patty Bergy is the Area Representative for Always Best Care. Patty facilitates a broad spectrum of care giving ranging from in-home companion care to end-of-life services.
Lesley Gray is the owner of Another Daughter. Lesley provides caregivers and adult children the help they need to find, coordinate and monitor non-medical services for the Seniors they love.
Dee Whitaker is the Publisher of Natural Awakenings magazine, and is a Certified Life Coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Practitioner. Dee is passionate in her mission to help others heal–in body, mind and spirit.
Seating is limited, so call a friend now and plan to attend Wednesday, October 16 from6:30 to 9:00pm. Event to be held at: A Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, located in University Mall. $25 to the public and $15 for WSO50 members. Register online at http://www.wso50.com using PayPal or mail your check to WSO50, Attn: Donna Nelson, 66 Hardin Circle, Ste 12B, Chapel Hill NC 2516.
For information, call 919-918-3916 or email giraffe3productions@yahoo.com.

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The Shared Housing Option

The Shared Housing Option with Marianne Kilkenny and Linda Williams

The ’80s TV sitcom The Golden Girls offered viewers witty dialogue and laugh tracks, but it popularized a concept of housing — shared housing or the collaborative home — whose time may have just arrived. Kilkenny  and Williams  are colleagues, friends, and housemates in Asheville who share a missionary passion for promoting community and alternative housing choices through their speaking engagements and workshops. Their combined experiences, stories, and exercises will foster questions, insights, and aha’s.

Kilkenny founded Women for Living in Community and has been interviewed about the financial, safety, and social benefits of the shared home model on NBC Nightly News, CBS Early Show, ABC News, and NPR. Williams is Communications Director of the Living in Community Network in Sarasota, FL.

This public programs will be held at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough, NCthe programs begin at 6:30 PM.

All presentations will include facilitated discussions that will spark new ideas and allow those with similar interests to connect.

The Central Orange Center is located at 103 Meadowlands DriveHillsborough, NC (919) 245-2015.

INFORMATION ON THE ABOVE EVENT: http://www.secondjourney.org/FallSeries.htm

Exploring Community and Interdependence – 9/2013

CCanFlyerImage

What Will You Call Home at the End of Life? 9/2012

Dene Peterson copyCreating New Models of Home & Community in Later Life

Saturday, Sept 29, 2012
9:00am to 2:00 PM
Reuter Center, UNC Asheville

Featuring keynote speaker Dene Peterson (pictured right), founder and developer of ElderSpirit. Includes panel discussions with local experts, and small group sessions focused on intentional visioning and exploration. Marianne Kilkenny will be one of the local experts presenting on the panel.

Women for Living in Community Featured in New York Times Article

Shared Housing has hit the big time! Yesterday, the work I have been doing for the past six years was featured in an article in The New York Times. Times staff writer Phyllis Korkki described the growing challenges of housing and aging when you don’t have family and friends nearby as you get older.

Phyllis interviewed me for the story and her piece highlighted how the Women for Living in Community Network “encourages the creation of networks that enable older people — mainly women, but also men, as her own example shows — to share housing.”

The article entitled “Childless and Aging? Time to Designate a Caregiver” goes on to explain how people can have the companionship we need in later years by creating shared housing arrangements. The photo (pictured right)  captured one of our household’s weekly meeting.

Read the entire piece where I am featured in the last four paragraphs of the article.

Tools for Creating Community

As you may know, my mission is to create places for Boomers to grow older in grace and dignity. My big thing is not to wait. If you’re someone who has been talking about these ideas with a friend, don’t wait 10 years. Let’s do it now!

 

In a radio interview I did earlier this year with Cathy Severson, host of the blog radio show “Retirement Life Matters,” I discuss my six-year circuitous and bumpy path that led to the shared Golden Girls-like home I happily now live in in Asheville, N.C. My goal is to help your path be considerably faster and easier. Here are tools to create community in your life now. Click here for a link to the full 30-minute interview and a downloadable transcript.

 

How do you get started?
I see three key components for creating community in your life.
Ask yourself:
1. Who are the people you most want to live with?
2. Where is the place you see yourself living?
3. What are key interpersonal tools you’ll need to get along with your housemates?It is critical to begin with a clear vision for yourself of why you want a community component in your housing. Is it economic? For social connections? For health reasons? Or all three combined?

What tools will help you?
I assist groups and individuals to get started by focusing on what I call “My Why?” Ask yourself: Why do I want to do this? When the process gets difficult, you’ll find it helpful to refer back to why you were inspired to create a community in the first place.

I highly recommend the “The Blue Print of We.” You can view this free document produced by The Center for Collaborative Awareness at this link. This is a document we regularly use in our shared house in Asheville both, as a contract with our landlord, and as a working document between housemates. Each of us fills out our own part and then we combine sections for a comprehensive document we’ve all agreed to.

Making decisions is one of the most difficult things to do with a group of people. It’s not about someone winning. It’s about everyone being heard and people feeling included in the decision. We use a form of decision making called “Dynamic Governance.

We also use Non-Violent Communication, a method developed by Marshall Rosenberg. This communication tool enables you to clearly express your feelings and needs and keeps the phrasing to “I” statements, such as, I feel hurt when you ….”. You can access all these documents in the Resources section of my website under “Tools for Getting Along.”

Please contact me if you’re ready to make community happen in your life and create the kind of living arrangement you want for the next phase of your life.

Transforming Existing Neighborhoods – Part Two

This home was collectively purchased and turned into the Common House for N Street neighborhood in Davis, CA.

In last week’s blog, I wrote about bringing more community to your existing neighborhood. This week, let’s discuss what it will take to make this happen. If this is the path you’re considering, here are several important characteristics you’ll need – starting with patience. To be successful, you’ll be speaking with the households on your block and the surrounding blocks to determine if they wish to participate. Be prepared for this process to take time and lots of it. You’re introducing a new idea and people need time to digest something new and make the time in their already busy lives.

Leadership is another key trait. Transforming a neighborhood needs a champion, someone to keep everyone and everything moving forward. If you’re that leader, consider finding a co-leader as soon as possible. You will need to coordinate ongoing events, including planning and implementing social and educational activities. A political effort may also be needed if a  zoning change is involved or to create an HOA, if one doesn’t already exist.

Vision is a third necessary characteristic to see the blueprint of what’s possible and the importance of increased community on your block. Add to  vision, strong communication skills as you’ll be sharing your idea to a diverse group of people understand your vision, including existing residents, current landlords, city officials, potential future residents and design professionals. Communication tools may include your creating a neighborhood newsletter, a community bulletin board,  email list or distributing a flyer about upcoming events to people’s homes.

Tenacity is the final trait required. Some people will find the idea exciting. Others will be opposed. It will require ongoing effort over time to transform your existing neighborhood into group of households that is aligned with a community version.

“Transforming something that is already there involves overcoming the inertia of what is for the benefits of what could be,” said Zev Paiss, sustainability educator and author of From Here To There: A Positive Story of America’s Future.

Models to reference include “retrofit cohousing” where existing cohousing neighborhoods have been turned into supportive communities. In this model, residents start with a few existing homes on a block and adapt the houses, alleys, backyards and courtyards to make them more pedestrian-friendly and community-oriented.

One example is N Street Cohousing in Davis, California, a 19-household neighborhood that started forming in 1991. This community was created by future residents buying up houses in the neighborhood and then taking down the side and backyard fences between the homes. Another example is Temescal Creek Cohousing in Oakland, California, which took only three months to get started.

Retrofitting an existing neighborhood has the advantage of adapting existing structures and not needing to build new construction. It offers innovative opportunities, such as outreach to your friends and family members when homes in the neighborhood go on the market. Another option if for neighbors to buy a home together and convert it into a shared space for meals, meetings and guest bedrooms for out-of-town guests.

The largest disadvantage of transforming your existing neighborhood is the resistance you may meet from current homeowners on your block. However, it may only take five to six households who get behind your idea to make a difference in the amount of community you and others will enjoy.
If you’re interested in this neighborhood process and other ways of creating community in your housing arrangement, please contact me.

Transforming Existing Neighborhoods – Part One

Neighbors transform their street and enjoy getting to know each other during regular “block parties.”

Finding a place where you can “age in community” is challenging especially if you love where you currently live and don’t want to move. A viable option is to direct your energy into converting your existing neighborhood into more of a community.

Creating more connections with your current neighbors has both advantages and disadvantages. Advantages: you’re staying in your home while you work towards transforming your existing neighborhood. And you’ll have the pleasure – hopefully this will be a positive experience – of getting to know the people on your block and starting to do things together.

Disadvantages: as compared to creating a shared Golden Girls-like home or a cohousing  neighborhood, bringing community to an existing neighborhood is the path that will take the most time. Second, you don’t have control over whom your neighbors will be. Third, this model will require an increased level of leadership not needed in the other two models where leadership is shared.

An excellent resource is the book Superbia! 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods by Dave Wann. This book guides the reader on how to remake suburban and urban neighborhoods to better serve people reduce human impact on the environment.

Dave provides practical suggestions on how to transform typical suburban neighborhoods to better meet people’s needs. Ideas range from the simple, like creating a neighborhood newsletter to foster a sense of neighborhood identity and cooperation, to regular community dinners, discussion groups, and babysitting co-ops, to more complex actions, such as removing backyard fences to create park-like spaces for community play areas and gardens.

In next week’s blog, I’ll share the personal qualities that will help you be successful in creating community in an existing neighborhood. Please contact me for how to get started.

Are you a Good Fit for Cohousing? Part Two

Future cohousing residents in California dine together after one of their monthly business meetings.

In last week’s blog, I discussed the six defining characteristics of cohousing neighborhoods which combine personal privacy with community. But how do you know if you’re a good fit for living in these intentional neighborhoods?  If you want a sneak preview, click here for a one-minute video presentation I gave in Florida about key characteristics for successfully living in cohousing.

You Like Meetings
If you get involved with a forming cohousing group, be prepared for lots of meetings anywhere from monthly to weekly. Meetings are an essential component of cohousing because creating one of these communities is an egalitarian, participatory process where future residents make decisions together as a group. The beauty of this collaborative decision making process is that you have an active say in the development of your neighborhood including both, the physical design of the community, and the social agreements for living together after move-in. Ask yourself if you’ll enjoy and/or are willing to participate in meetings for typically two to three years from conception to move-in and then bi-monthly after you move in.

You’re Willing to Share Leadership
Making decisions as a group requires strong communication and group process skills. Typically, several members of the forming group get trained early on to effectively facilitate and lead meetings. If you’re interested in learning these skills you will be a valuable member of the cohousing group and these skills are applicable in other aspects of your life (e.g. your work or spiritual community). Many cohousing neighborhoods use egalitarian consensus decision-making to ensure that all opinions are heard in a discussion. Rather than having a single dominant leader, cohousing group process is more based on the Quaker belief that ‘”everyone has a piece of the truth.”

You’re Comfortable Expressing Your Feelings
Since so many issues are discussed during the development stage of cohousing and after move-in, residents find that sharing personal feelings leads to self-discovery. A favorite quote sourced to Zev Paiss, founding Executive Director of the Cohousing Association of the U.S. captures this well:

“Cohousing is the longest and most expensive personal growth workshop you will ever take.”

If you enjoy meetings, are willing to share leadership, and express your personal feelings, cohousing offers an innovative and nurturing alternative to living alone or the isolation of standard U.S. neighborhoods. Please contact me for more info about this community-focused option.

Women For Living in Community