The Me vs. We Generation

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In a recent magazine article that I clipped, and I can’t for the life of me remember which magazine it was clipped from, was this quote:

“In one of the greatest ironies of history, the Me Generation will transform into the We Generation in their later years.”

Of course this quote spoke to me because I am one of the people dedicated to helping our generation make this major shift in consciousness. But what does it mean to be a We Generation?

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Chosen Family and Community Living

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Just Google the phrase “Chosen Family” and you’ll be presented with countless articles and resources about the concept. In its most basic form the idea of chosen family is made up of unrelated individuals who function just like any nuclear and extended family.

Have you ever had a best friend you referred to her as your sister?

She was your chosen family.

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Making Winter Easier

persephone in winter

Wintertime is stressful for a lot of people. The cold is just one aspect. For many others it is the darkness of the shorter winter days that becomes overwhelming. Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is a category of chronic depression exhibited by extreme mood shifts strictly to the darkness and grey days. Of course, depression is just one of several reasons that the wintertime can be hard, especially for older adults. We believe that community living could be just one possible answer for many people.

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Community Spotlight: The Eden Alternative

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The Eden Alternative isn’t so much a specific community as it is a way of organizing a community to create something new for residents as they age. What the Eden Alternative provides is a way for any type of community to implement their philosophy to completely change the level of care, interaction, and engagement of residents. I think this is worth exploring.

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Community is the Cure for Christmas Stress

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It’s December and that means winter holidays. There are several to choose from, including Christmas, since this is the season of celebration for cultures all over the world. But with the trappings of the holidays inevitably comes the stress. There is so much pressure to have a perfect holiday season that even the most emotionally healthy person can have a breakdown in the bleak midwinter.

I believe that community can be the perfect cure for stress during the Christmas season. Having a support network is essential to avoid depression, stress, and loneliness; all common emotions especially around the holidays.

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Intergenerational Messages: How Elders can Teach the Next Generation

A meeting

As Active Aging Week continues, today’s recommended activity is centered on Intergenerational Messages. The idea is that grandparents have a lot of wisdom to pass on to the next generation. I challenge that this doesn’t only encompass grandparents but also moms, aunts, friends, and extended community.

Women for Living in Community is built on the idea that we have something to teach not only among our peers but to the next generation.

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Extended Community and the Role of the Internet

caring bridge marianne

Last month I shared the story of my injury and was looking forward to recovery. I do want to let you all know that I have been doing very well since I had surgery to repair the damage in my neck and have been slowly getting back to normal.

When I wrote about my experience and the importance of my shared household and community in my initial emergency as well as my recovery I purposefully left out part of the story. This one involved a more widespread community and how the internet and social media played a part in the connections.

When I first felt the debilitating pain in my neck, my original Facebook posting got the attention of my cousin who just happens to be a neurosurgeon. One phone call later I felt confident with a second opinion that helped inform me about my options going forward. I also received dozens of well wishes from others as well as input from people who had similar experiences in their own lives. It was helpful to be in contact just to let my far-flung friends and family know that I wasn’t ignoring them but rather trying to stay away from the computer too much and let the healing begin.

Since that time, and throughout the surgery, I was able use an online tool called Caring Bridge which allowed everyone to stay in touch, keep themselves informed, and send messages of support that I could see when I was finally back to a computer screen. It was both practical and heartwarming. Caring Bridge is a non-profit organization.

I have experienced so much support over the last several months that it is hard to write about how much it touched me. There were many messages, emails, visits, offers to help, dinners made, and deliveries of delicious edibles. Some friends even offered to take me to the doctor to help in my recovery. There are so many more blessings that I can’t even list.

Have you evaluated what you have in your support network? Support takes a different shape with each person in your life. You may have friends and family in another state who can’t be with you to help but want to support you in other ways. Most of my family is on the west coast but through the power of the internet I was able to stay connected and I knew they were thinking of me and lending their support in my recovery.

Of course, the internet doesn’t just have to play a role in your life when you’ve suffered a major setback. It can be a great tool for finding your own community and making change happen in your life. Tools like Facebook and Meet Up can help connect you to likeminded people to form a community and become each other’s support network through every day challenges and major disasters.

What are you waiting for?

Learn more about building community through Marianne’s workbook Your Quest for Home and on the website. Ask a question and join the discussion on Facebook.

Creating Community Where You Already Are (Do you know your Neighbors?)

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I know in many places in the country people feel very isolated. From suburban neighborhoods to apartments, neighbors just don’t talk to each other like they use to. There was a time when everyone on every street knew all the other people lived there. They were each others support networks and friends. Our increasingly more digital culture, with all of its benefits, has allowed us to remain isolated in our homes and reach out to friends and family through the power of social media rather than in person.

Are you interested in creating community as you age? The first place to start is right in your own neighborhood.

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Expensive Cities Can Be More Affordable in Groups

Image by Anne Fitten Glenn via Flickr

Image by Anne Fitten Glenn via Flickr

Recently, my city of Asheville was listed in a Yahoo Finance article about the 10 cities where ordinary people can no longer afford homes. There are major changes in the real estate market, especially considering that just a few short years ago individual home owners weren’t able to sell their homes without taking a loss or needing to consider a short sale. It just goes to show how quickly things change.

While the article talks about the increasing mortgage rates across the United States it doesn’t seem to indicate the other factors that make these particular cities less affordable. Could it be pay inequality or the higher cost of living? In any case, it may be time to reconsider the way American’s buy homes in the first place.

I have a radical idea for individuals who want to buy homes in these areas: Community Living.

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Community Spotlight: NORC

Image by Jay@MorphoLA via Flickr

Image by Jay@MorphoLA via Flickr

Are you familiar with the concept of a NORC? These communities can’t be built or forced, they are simply naturally occurring like dandelions or maple saplings. NORC stands for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. These communities didn’t start out just for seniors but for various reasons, such as people moving in or out or aging in place, they are occupied in large numbers by older adults.

NORCs can exisit anywhere; suburbs, cities, condos, houses, apartments. The type of structure doesn’t matter as much as the ages of the residents who make up the majority of the community. Because of the natural evolution of these communities relationships develop over time and community members begin to form a support system. Thus, they begin to attract other seniors to the area as well.

NORC Blueprint has also evolved to provide tools for individuals interested in community living. NORC Programs, like the one in New York, offer services and infrastructure to seniors living within these communities.

An excellent example of a NORC in action is in the town of East Point Georgia. While the wider community has a diversity of ages, there are parts of town where seniors live today. Three Atlanta area organizations came together to give the seniors living in the East Point NORC important services.

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Women For Living in Community