Vision Statement

I’ve had a vision of living in community for many years. When I was in my twenties, my best friend from high school and I made a pact that we would share a house when we were old ladies and our husbands were no longer around. In my thirties, when I was the mother of three young boys, the concept of co-housing intrigued me from the standpoint of having a “village” to help raise children. In my fifties, during the last months of my mother’s life, she was no longer able to take care of her needs on her own, and needed help occasionally throughout the day. We hired a 24/7 caregiver for her, but it would have been highly preferable if she could have shared the services of a caregiver with other nearby persons nearby. And, for more than a decade, I’ve had a vision of being part of a vibrant creative community that shared space and resources – cooperative art/dance/music studios, where artists would work, teach and share their creative gifts, where learning and creating would be accessible to people of all ages and experience levels, and cost would not be a barrier.

Since entering my sixties, I’ve felt as if I’m on the brink of a new chapter of my life. My kids are (mostly) out of the house, and I can catch a glimpse down the road of retiring from full-time work. Part of this next chapter involves where I live, and what I do with my time to continue to have purpose and meaning in my life. My vision is an intentional community of affordable separate living spaces and shared creative space that will allow residents to  have significant input into the fabric of the community, and give me (and others) the option of aging in place. I want to be able to continue to enjoy the community life even when I may need some help with my daily activities, and through sharing resources like caregivers, I believe this should be financially and logistically possible.

Questions you may have:

  • What kind of people would live in this community?
    • All kinds of people!  Different generations and kinds of households: single adults, couples, families with children, retired people. The one common thread among the residents would be an interest in creative learning, growing and sharing.
  • Would each living unit have its own kitchen and bathroom?
    • Yes! Each living unit will be a private living space for each household, and will include a private kitchen and bathroom(s). Ideally, living units will be different sizes (square feet and number of bedrooms) as options for different sizes of households.
  • How much will this cost? Do you rent or buy?
    • The goal is to make this community affordable for a large range of income levels, with different options for either renting or owning (similar to condo ownership). Since there won’t be a developer or landlord making a profit, and there will be economies of scale and shared resources, the expenses (whether rent or purchase) should be less than if renting or purchasing a “normal” apartment or condo.
  • What do you mean by “age in place”?
    • A goal of “aging in place” is to be able to continue to live where you want for as long as you want, to maintain your meaningful relationships, living situation and opportunities for connection. A good plan for aging in place includes living units that are built with accessibility in mind (i.e. for wheelchairs, hearing loss or loss of sight),  and has an option to share caregivers if needed.
  • Do I have to be a professional artist to live there?
    • Absolutely not! One of my core beliefs is that access to the arts and creativity enriches everyone, and that people just need to be interested in exploring, learning and experience the arts. Among the shared/common spaces on-site will be art, dance, music studios where classes and studio space will be available.
  • What kinds of shared resources will there be?
    • In addition to the art, dance and music studios, there will be a common industrial kitchen and dining/meeting space. An important part of the community is to have shared meals and social events on a regular basis. Other examples of shared resources are: one or two guests rooms for occasional guests of residents, specialty kitchen equipment (like food processors or bread machines) that people might like to use occasionally, and possibly even shared bikes or vehicles. I also envision sharing of skills, time and resources – easing the load of responsibilities for working folks and families, but giving retired folk opportunities to share their skills and increase their sense of purpose. For example, there may be retired residents who can lead some activities for kids after school.
  • Where will this community be?
    • To me, the most important features of a location are:
      • Easy accessibility to natural beauty
      • Easy accessibility to culture, medical, public transportation
      • Low to moderate cost of living
    • I’m currently looking at properties in Madison, WI, which has all three of those features. If you have ideas about a different location, I’d love to hear them!

Although this type of community is not (yet) commonplace in the U.S., there are currently over 1700 co-housing and intentional communities in the U.S. as well as a number of senior artist colonies, primarily located in California.

Call to action – please communicate with me, ask me your questions, give me your ideas! Let me know if you’re at all interested, what appeals to you and what doesn’t appeal.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Intentionally and creatively,

Janis

 

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