[Part 1 of What is a Village? is here. It would be helpful to read that first.]
One of the reasons it took me so many years to come around to the Villages idea is that for a long time, it was mostly an urban phenomenon – relatively small, square or rectangular spaces of contiguous city blocks.
It seemed to me to be nigh impossible to forge a cohesive group within the farflung homes of suburbia.
That turned out to be wrong and according to that Rutgers study I mentioned yesterday (link below) there are an equal number of urban and suburban Villages (39.9 percent each). And get this: 15.9 percent serve primarily rural areas.
Wherever they are located, each Village's organization and management are guided by their Vision, Mission and Values statement that is usually crafted by the founding members.
These tend to support such principles as recognizing mutual interdependence, embracing diversity, honoring the privacy and dignity of individuals, transparent decision-making and reflect local sensibilities.
Villages are all about what we can do for one another trading on our individual interests, capabilities and willingness to care. No one else is going to do this for us.
Here are some crucial points about growing old in America now: there are currently about 42 million people 65 and older. By 2030, just 16 years from now, there will be about 72 million people in that age group and already there are not enough caregivers to go around.
Also, there are no ideas regarding what to do about that shortfall. There are no plans for enough care facilities. Few old people can afford the steep prices of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) – those in which a resident can move from independent living to assisted living to nursing care as the necessity arises.
In fact, no institution or government – not local, state or federal - has put forth any useful ideas about how to cope with the growth of the elder population.
So it is up to us - you and me - to take care of ourselves and our neighbors, and Villages are the best idea I have found – people helping people.
Besides my own self-interest of wanting to have a Village in place by the time I am in need of its services, it is a wonderful opportunity to help create an organization that will be already in place when the generations behind us come along.
By then, if we start now, our Villages will be mature, the kinks worked out and we will know that we did something extraordinary in our old age – a legacy, if you will indulge a pun, for the ages.
What I've told you about Villages today and yesterday does not begin to cover it all and I haven't even mentioned the hard work needed from many people over three years or more to get a Village ready to launch.
If you think it is worthwhile and you would like to be part of a valuable, growing movement, here is some information that will help you get involved.
If a Village near you is fully operational, you can join and you can also become a volunteer.
If a Village near you is just getting organized, offer to help. In addition to the accomplishment, it's a great way to meet new people.
If there is no Village near you yet, you can do what I did – gather together some willing and interested neighbors – it doesn't need to be a whole of lot of them in the beginning - and start your own Village.
This is a 2012 video, a short TEDtalk from Judy Willetts that goes beyond the nuts and bolts I've talked about in these two days of posts. Her talk is titled, It Takes a Village.
Here are some links from yesterday's post and some additional ones where you can learn more about the Villages movement:
• Beacon Hill Village, the first Village
• The Rutgers study is full of useful, recent statistics about Villages [pdf]
• AARP has a general overview of Villages from a couple of years ago
• The Washington Post has a good story on the growth of Villages in the D.C. Area.
• VillagesNW, in my area of Oregon, is a unique hub-and-spoke operation that makes it easier for “spoke” Villages to get started than going it alone. It's a new idea for which we have great expectations. We'll see how it goes.
If you are interested and if the members of the planning committee agree, I will post occasional stories here to keep you up to date on how "my" Village (soon to have a name) is moving forward, developing and what we are learning that might be useful to you in your area.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: Misty of Sunset Stables