Go Local for Community Resources

Over the years I’ve met many people in the community movement who have been my inspiration and education.  I’ve been fortunate to have a few right in my own backyard (so to speak).  Here are profiles of 3 such people who have been instrumental in my quest for Community:

LEADER IN ECOVILLAGES AND INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES

dianeleafchristianDiana Leafe Christian breathes, writes and lives about community, specifically, Ecovillages and Intentional Communities.  “Ecovillages are urban or rural communities of people who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life.” (Source).

She doesn’t just write about it, she lives in one in Black Mountain, NC called Earthaven (www.Earthaven.org).  This community was formed in 1995 and is now up to 55 full-time residents with diversity in age and background.

Living in an Ecovillage is not just about being sustainable but also how to get along and make decisions. Diana teaches workshops and writes about “Sociocracy,” a way of consensus building in community.  To get an idea of what it means, you can view a Youtube video here, “Diana Leafe Christian – Decision-making in communities + intro to Sociocracy 1“.

All of those seeking to learn about or who live in community have probably come across Communities Magazine. Diana was the editor from 1993 – 2007.  In addition to editing, Diana also published several books about Ecovillages and Intentional Communities.  Her books are considered the “bible” for community (click on titles to view on Amazon):

creatingCreating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities

Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community

What more can I say? How fortunate am I to have her this close?

 

LEADER IN DEVELOPING COMMUNITY TOOLS FOR COLLABORATION


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Zelle Nelson and Maureen McCarthy
are a dynamic couple I met over 1o years ago while on my search for alternatives to lawyers and litigation in community forming documents. They live in Western Carolina in the small town of  Flat Rock. They are the founders of The Blueprint of WE (initially known as the “State of Grace Document) that later became The Center for Collaborative Awareness. The Blueprint of WE is a collaboration tool that can be used by businesses, in family, in groups  and of course, in community. It starts with you and custom designs a collaboration process for building together and is a guide when conflicts arise. You might think of a relationship as you and another person but with the Blueprint of WE, it’s “You, Me and WE.” blueprint

I encourage anyone who wishes to have better collaboration and communication in any personal, community or business endeavor to explore this fabulous tool.

LEADER IN BEING PASSIONATE
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Gregg Levoy  is an author who writes and speaks about passion and callings – what inspires you, what defeats you, what drives you. Gregg does not work directly in the Community movement but what he writes about is important to anyone interested in living a purposeful life with passion. I met Gregg at a workshop over 12 years ago in California and found out a few years ago that he lives in Asheville, NC!
His latest book, Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion has made him a favorite at the conferences on aging due to the nature of the topic and his workshop leading skills. It examines the endless, yet endlessly fruitful, tug-of-war between passion and security in our lives, asking yourself questions like: How do you lose passion and how do you get it back? His other book, Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, explores how to cultivate passion as a mindset to add vitality to your relationships and work.
Love his website (http://www.gregglevoy.com/) which is full of great stuff.  One of my favorite things on his website is the music and movies he recommends. http://www.gregglevoy.com/vital-signs/music-movies.html but you can also see his workshop schedule. I encourage you to attend one.
As you can see, there are some dynamic  people here in western North Carolina and I only touched upon a few.  We also have great resources which I will write about in a future blog as part of my ongoing desire to serve. In the meantime, please share with me your resources or if you found any of these helpful or inspirational.
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October 6-9, 2016 – New Tribe Training

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October 6 -9, 2016: New Tribe Training

Location:  Center for Art & Spirit (1 School Road, Asheville, NC 28806)

In May 2016 we attended the New Tribe Training in Oregon. As an advocate for aging in community, I saw this as an important way of creating community without the confines of location or having to share homes and land.  We are co-sponsoring this New Tribe Training in Asheville and hope to see you there!

A workshop for people deeply longing for a close knit, non-residential, loving community as a safety net for challenging times. Led by Bill Kauth, co-founder of “The ManKind Project, Warrior Monk & Our Tribe” and Zoe Alowan, co-author of We Need Each Other and also co-founder of Our Tribe.

Fee: $175 with registration for hard costs of venue & all meals. After the workshop Bill & Zoe will formally request a gift based on value you have received over the 3 day workshop ($300 – $2100).

Space is limited to 24 people

Registration: via email to bkindman@mind.net or contact Bill or Zoe at 541-482-2335 / 530-263-4778. To learn more about Tribe, visit www.TimeforTribe.com.

September 23, 2016 – Aging in Community: Exploring Options with OLLI

Our series with OLLI (Osher Life Long Learning Institute)

September 23, 2016: Aging in Community: Exploring Options

Dates: September 23 – November 11, 2016 (8 Week Series, Fridays 9am – 11am)
Location: OLLI (Olli Life Long Learning Institute) at UNC-Asheville
Click Here to Download Course Outline | Register at: OllieAsheville

Marianne Kilkenny will be Session 1 Speaker, September 23 – Starting Where You Are
Assess your personal needs, goals and resources as you age and explore an overview of options.

My class will help kick-start your thoughts to create a plan for your future. How do you envision community as you age? Where are the people you already count on located? What kind of action plan can you create starting in the next three months? Six Months? We will also look at your home now and how it might change as the years go by.

My Compelling “Why”

Recently I was asked to write a profile article about myself and my work.  Writing about yourself is difficult but it did make me do some heavy thinking about my journey over the last (almost) 10 years. There have been many times when I questioned my progress, especially when the future felt so unclear.  But writing the article reminded of the two reasons that started me on my journey almost 10 years ago….My Compelling “Why”:

  1. The quest to honor the memory of my mother, Betty
  2. The desire to find or create a community of people with shared values to grow with live with, and care for each other.

My Compelling Why

I last wrote about my mother in April 2014 for a Mother’s Day article.  You can read it here.  Watching my mother age in a nursing home was like having cold water splashed on my face… constantly. I was there but it never felt like enough.  When she passed away I knew then that this was not the way to end what had been years of happiness and hard work.  Honoring the memory of my mother meant finding a better alternative and spreading the word so others did not share in that fate.

At the same time I was caring for my parents, I was going through my own shift – my long career in Corporate HR was coming to an end.  I was divorced, alone and facing my future as a “boomer,” like many others. I knew then I needed to find or create a community of people with shared values to support each other in good and bad times.

Little did I know how long this quest would take.

A morning reminder of hope

A morning reminder of hope

Always in a hurry for the quick fix, I had no idea the twists and turns my journey would take.  The simple step of starting this website in 2007 turned into speaking, teaching and then writing My Guidebook. Locally, I’ve become known as “The Community Lady.”  The media dubbed me the “real life Golden Girls” when I was living with 3 to 4 women (and sometimes a guy here or there).  In the last year I’ve moved out of shared housing and am now exploring what to do with a 2 acre lot of land – do I build, what do I build, do I create a community?

There have been many times I doubted the progress I was making, but as I look back upon my journey, I realize that the last 10 years have proven to be my own “School on Aging/Thriving.” I learned about the pros and cons, options and alternatives while testing and exploring different models, personally.  While this journey is not yet over, I have come full circle to My Compelling Why.

I started honoring my mother the moment I took the big step to moving to Asheville and founded Women for Living in Community.  With each blog post I write, speech I give, or with every person who buys my Guidebook and takes that single step to finding their community, I am honoring my mother. I am sharing and will continue to share with others ideas for a better way to age with grace and dignity than the nursing home model.

During all of this, I’ve realized that assets in dollars or possessions are not as important as assets in friendships, companionships, intimacy and belonging.

The quest to find my own community was right there all along.  In July 2014, I wrote and published a page on this website called “My Journey” and in it I magically referred to the next chapter of my journey…

(July 2014) “As I go forward into the future, there are many more chapters to this story. Finding my tribe and the place I can bring others to experience some of the things I have learned…”

I have found my tribe

Well, it has been just over 2 years since making that statement and guess what… I attended a workshop in Oregon in May called “New Tribe Training.”  New Tribe is something I’ve been exploring for awhile after reading the book, We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community by Bill Kauth with Zoe Alowan.

Unlike many other models, this one does not require relocation or real estate. The foundation of any community, no matter what shape that community takes (shared housing, Intentional Communities, Village to Village Networks, etc.), are the members of that Community and you can create your ideal community right where you are now.

New Tribe is the community you create that begins with yourself and the people who are already around you that you desire to have a close relationship, share specific values, hold each other as a priority and formally commit to each other with the longer term goal of being best friends.   If you want to learn more, you can.  We are sponsoring a New Tribe Training workshop here in Asheville in October.  Details here. I will also be sharing a lot more about this in the next few blog posts as well.

In short, each of us has our Compelling Why for what we do, especially when it’s personal.  Don’t give up. Keep trying different options. Keep learning and you’ll be surprised how the answers have been there all along.

Marianne Kilkenny

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The Sound of Silence

Silence2

We’ve been silent since the end of 2015; the silence was intentional – one of renewal, rejuvenation and looking forward.  We’ve made significant changes and those changes required time to absorb and adjust. As many of you know I’ve moved out of the shared housing arrangement that had defined me for so many years and into my own home. Many thought this change was a move backward and in contradiction to my quest to promote aging in community. Have you ever heard the saying, “Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward?”

In this case, that’s exactly what I did. An opportunity presented itself; one that allowed me to create my own shared home environment (previously, I was renting the house I shared and now, I own it). What’s more, an opportunity then immediately presented itself to expand my home boundaries and purchase additional acreage.  The dream of creating a community centered on the principles of Aging in Community (description here) is now underway to becoming a reality. There will be more news and information on this but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you what’s been happening during the silence:

In January 2015, the Detroit Public TV aired a documentary, “When I’m 65: Rethinking Retirement in America” for which I had been interviewed a year ago. The documentary features people from across the country in the midst of retirement and showcases the challenges, fears and opportunities we all face.  As a result of these interviews, they also published 3 videos, one features our shared housing arrangement and the other features Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville (OLLIE).

You can click here to see the videos (ours is at the bottom).

To see the full documentary, click here (we are featured 46 minutes in) but the entire video is worth watching. Watching this now (it just aired) was a demonstration of how much and how quickly things can change.

In March 2016, I was featured in WNC Woman’s magazine issue. I discussed how “Improvisational Living begins with Community.” It was a great reminder of the mission and vision I have held all these years for Women for Living in Community especially as we move from dreaming to doing in the next chapter.  We discussed the top 5 things that create controversy in community which was a great reminder as I begin to work out the plans for a real community in Asheville, NC.  We also discussed the missing element of today’s communities that are focused on seniors or retirees and those are the interpersonal aspects of living together, whether you share a house or a community.

Looking forward, I am excited about my upcoming trip to Oregon. Oregon, you ask? Yes, to attend the “New Tribe Training” being held May 19 – 22 in Ashland. If you’re not aware, there is a group of people who have created a supportive network of people, who intentionally have come together as a “tribe.”  As they put it,

“Our “new tribe” model is different from the usual “intentional community” as we live in our own homes and not on shared land. “Bicycle distance” is our metaphor for living close enough to meet face-to-face with weekly consistency.”

Why am I attending? I have always been looking for connections with others in my community related work and the groups I have been a part of. This idea of Tribe and how to form it and be a part of it called to me from an article in Communities Magazine. The article describes their history, their process, what worked and what did not in forming their tribe.  Click here to read the article.

What do I hope to gain?  My hope is to find others who really know me and I know them, spend time together, and choose to be in each others life on purpose, forever. That is what I want. I read Bill and Zoe’s book, titled appropriately, “We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community and knew this Tribe Training was my next step. So I am going to the experts.

So, you can see, the “Silence was not about the absence of something, but the presence of everything.” During this silence we’ve been busy and we can’t wait to fill you in on all the details in the coming months.

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Marianne Kilkenny

5 Ways to Make Connections for 2016

I met a man who lives in Tennessee

He was headin’ for, Pennsylvania, and some homemade pumpkin pie

From Pennsylvania, folks are travelin’ down to Dixie’s sunny shore

From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific.

And…you know the rest.

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[Read more…]

8 Ways to Keep Thanksgiving Alive All Year Long

Writing about gratitude at Thanksgiving is terribly cliché. That is why I am not going to do it this year. Well, what I mean is that I am not going to do it in the most obvious way. This won’t be a list of the things I am thankful for this year. This won’t be a catalog so I can check off the box to indicate that I have thanked the people who have influenced me this year. This won’t be any of those things.

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A New Community Tribe: The First NotMom Summit

Months ago I was asked to participate in an event that would be the first of its kind. You never know what to expect in these situations but my participation made sense. This was the first ever conference for women without children. The idea was to bring together women who made the choice to not have children as well as those who did want kids but over time and circumstance find themselves without them.

tribe clan quot

The first-ever NotMom Summit took place in Cleveland, Ohio on October 9th and 10th.

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Community or Place: A Look at Our Needs Vs. Our Wants

To build from my last post, which looked at the importance of connection as we age, I wanted to expand more on the key elements of successful “Aging in Place” and how the principles for building a community provide the alternative many are seeking.

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Community vs. Place: Why It Matters

Let’s take a closer look at aging in community and what makes it a different, and in many cases preferred, from aging in place.

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In Spring of 2015 I opened my mailbox to find the newest edition of Communities Magazine. In it was a fantastic article by Margaret Critchlow called “Senior Cohousing in Canada: How Baby Boomers Can Build Social Portfolios for Aging Well.” Since this is right in my own wheelhouse I quickly devoured the article.

[Read more…]

Women For Living in Community