One of the most rewarding aspects of helping to develop intergenerational communities is watching the concept transform and evolve to meet the needs of new communities. It is literally an ever-expanding concept. Some of the most exciting experiments are taking place among what I think of as Generations-of-Hope-like communities, new and planned projects that take the original concept in a new direction.
Luna Azul in Arizona in one of them. Started by the parent of an adult daughter with a rare disability, Luna Azul bills itself as a unique residential neighborhood designed specifically for people with life challenges.
Crossbridge Point in Indiana, a planned “affordable, walkable residential community that embodies home, choice, and security for 40-60 adults with and without intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD),” is another example. Both of these projects utilize co-housing, a concept that originated in Denmark, to address the challenges of adults with special needs, including isolation and the stress placed on family members.
The idea of using cohousing to serve vulnerable populations, families and active seniors stretches the Generations of Hope concept into a new realm, and represents an evolution of co- housing. The majority of the 160 cohousing sites in the country are groupings of privately owned housing with a community center. There are none with the co-housing mission combined with the inclusive intergenerational mission. Until now!
Meanwhile, a long list of projects that draw their inspiration from the original Generation of Hopes development continue sto make progress. This edition of the newsletter is intended to assist them in their work. We’ve solicited helpful tips from the “stars” of our GOH universe, those community planners who’ve successfully overseen the development of one or more projects, or are making great strides towards getting a first project off the ground. I hope that you find their insights useful.
Finally, we’re keeping a close eye on the Biden administration. Affordable housing will be a major priority for the administration, which means there are likely to be lots of opportunities for intergenerational work. And speaking of opportunities, Senator Ron Widen has been hard at work crafting some amendments to the original Opportunity Zone legislation that will likely benefit our work. In fact, virtually every major federal agency whose work intersects with ours is is planning some kind of housing or affordable housing expansion. That includes Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HUD’s senior and affordable housing programs, USDA’s rural development work, even housing for migrant children. All of these bring potential for the development of new intergenerational communities, so stay tuned!
Generations of Hope
Neighbors: the Power of People Next Door — a Conversation
Attention Intergenerational Champions:
Don’t miss this conversation between Dr. Brenda Krause Eheart, founder of the Hope Meadows community in Illinois, and leaders of two programs her work inspired: Bastion Executive Director Dylan Tête, and Bridge Meadows Executive Director Dr. Derenda Schubert. The history of intergenerational housing is a long one; many cultures around the world have always lived intergenerationally, with families of all ages living together in community.
Hope Meadows pioneered an intentional housing neighborhood based on a common social purpose. Brenda’s idea sparked and inspired the creation of multiple communities, including Bridge Meadows in Oregon and Bastion in New Orleans. Derenda and Dylan spoke with Brenda about her new book, Neighbors: The Power of the People Next Door and discuss how intentional neighboring can help us build community across generations and heal from the pandemic.
The Treehouse Community is 15 Years Old
Happy birthday to the Treehouse Community! A 60-home village built from scratch fifteen years ago in a former meadow in Western Massachusetts, the Treehouse Community was founded to support families that take in foster children in the hopes of stopping the bounce through the system.
To celebrate, Treehouse has put together a fantastic new video. Just click on the image to start watching! And for more information on the exciting plans to replicate the success of Treehouse, visit https://www.treehousefoundation.net/
Building a Better Board
Note: putting together a board of directors that has the skills to get a project off the ground is one of the most challenging tasks that awaits aspiring intergenerational community builders. We asked Pamela Calvert, co-chair of the board of One Roof in Chicago to share some wisdom.
One Roof is an an emerging initiative to build an LGBTQ+ centered intergenerational community for older adults and young people most in need of affirming housing, meaningful connection, and career development. The organization was formally founded in 2019, secured its IRS nonprofit status at the end of that year, and is in pre-development with partner Full Circle Communities (www.fccommunities.org). Here’s what Pamela had to say:
Although we have engaged project-focused consultants as needed, so far there have been no paid staff — and therefore a very hardworking all-volunteer board. As we’ve expanded our governing board over the past 3 years, here are some of the elements that come into play in identifying candidates and discerning what an individual brings to the organization: * Are they committed to the vision and values of the organization? This is in many ways the easiest piece, since we find that the One Roof Chicago vision captures the imagination of virtually everyone we share it with. That said, we are deeply committed to racial equity, harm reduction, trauma-informed approaches, and intersectional analysis, and our board engages in continuing discussion about building these elements into every part of our community.Pamela Calvert, co-chair of the board of One Roof in Chicago
Are they part of the community Building a Better Board munities that ORC is accountable to?
One Roof Chicago is accountable to the LGBTQ+ community, and every one of our board members is part of that community. While we have many straight allies who share our vision and are supporting our work, this project is being built from the ground up by us, for us. That said, we are acutely aware of the enormous diversity of our community in every aspect, and we have more to do to ensure that our board is fully inclusive in terms of race, gender identity, age, and class. *
Do they have the time available to do the work?
Let me say this again: we have no staff. ORC has a working board. Although most of our board members also have demanding full-time jobs, not one of them is a “letterhead” director whose only contribution is their name. When they join the board they are making an eyes-open commitment to invest a substantial amount of time launching a new organization and building a large capital construction project; board member contributions of time can and do take forms ranging from writing grant proposals to meeting with the city housing commissioner. *
Is the ORC board the right role for this person?
Not every supporter needs to be a board member; in fact, most supporters do not need to be board members. A willing heart and an open calendar really aren’t enough if an individual does not have any of the skills necessary to do the work that needs to be done. At the other end of the spectrum, a strategic professional skillset is of no use if the person has no time to dedicate to the organization. We are actively building a community of supporters who are “on call” to help when we need them. Someone can help draft a newsletter, or be on-call for technical support when we have questions about senior care facility licensing, or advocate behind the scenes with a prospective major funder, without taking on the responsibility of being a member of our leadership team. *
Do they bring a spirit of cooperation and humility to the work?
This is the “do they play well with others” question; poor interpersonal dynamics, power plays, and drama sink the boards of too many non- profit organizations. As we get into some of the higher-stakes decisions (like final site selection), we need to be sure that people who are joining the organization will not make hard decisions harder by coming in with inflexible mindsets and poor listening skills. We have had the blessing of a board that genuinely likes one another, and deals with issues promptly and directly when they arise.
Learn From The Leaders
The intergenerational community world is fortunate to have plenty of leaders. We recently reached out to some of them to ask them to share wisdom and insights they’ve picked up along the way. A big thanks to Mark Dunham of Kindred Strategies in Washington, DC; Mariah Hayden of New Life Village in Tampa, Florida; and Judy Cockerton of Treehouse in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Look for more tips in future editions of the newsletter.
Start With a Solid Plan
If you’re able to establish with clarity what your objectives are, if your planning and conceptualization are deliberate, you’re much more likely to engage the support of visionary donors. That’s what it takes to fund these early stage planning efforts. If you want to raise funds for planning, you’ve got to demonstrate that you’re going to engage in a deliberate and community-engaged planning process. Good money follows good ideas with competent people and a well-executed plan.Mark Dunham
Emphasize Community Building
Fifteen years ago when we opened our Treehouse Easthampton Community in Massachusetts, the most important investment that we made was in community building. We spent the first three years fulling engaging neighbors of all ages in community wide activities, events and programs designed to build meaningful connections across the generations. It was a wise investment. One that helped all three generations of Treehouse community members, Learn from the Leaders over 100 people ranging in age from newborns to 95, live healthy, connected and fulfilling lives.Judy Cockerton
Partner, Partner, Partner!
Find the universities, government offices, military, and other nonprofits that can help further your work and program Partner with your local government early. We found our local County Government to be a large donor to our program, property improvements and capital expansion because the County is committed to Affordable Housing, and at risk populations. In our case youth impacted by trauma/foster care, low income residents and senior citizens.Mariah Hayden:
Have a Timeline
Come up with a clear process of how you’re going to get from here to there and put yourself on a timeline. You’ve got to be clear and deliberate about it because otherwise you’re asking people to invest in what may seem like an amorphous concept. This is still an outside-the-box idea. By showing prospective donors the path and what your plan is to make this idea a reality, you’ll also give them confidence and they’ll be a lot more likely to invest.Dunham
Offer a program that offers resources, case management, training and system navigation around healthcare, mental health, trauma training, financial health and home buying assistance. That way your community is a transition opportunity (3-5 years) to allow residents (families not seniors) to heal, grow and find resources to be more independent. Otherwise the same families live there forever without advancing. This limits how many residents your community can serve.populations. In our case youth impacted by trauma/foster care, low income residents and senior citizens.Hayden
Seek Out Seed Money for Planning
A solid planning process takes resources. Parent-led groups are going to need to come up with some start-up funds: could be individual contributions from parents. That money can be used to really assess the need, to engage the community’s input and to develop the housing concept. What’s challenging for parent-led groups is to understand how to do that without a consultant to pull that together. It’s why you hire somebody with the skills.Dunham
Choose board members that are subject matter experts AND are well connected and will help build capacity. Staff will have too much to do running an “apartment complex” and a program to be responsible for all fundraising. Have board members that know how a successful nonprofit should be run as well as how boards should run. Train your staff and board regularly on best practices. We engage with https://nlctb.org/ Property management will take a huge chunk of time. Understand how to run a residential property, know the laws (fair housing etc) and have a good real estate lawyer as a resource.Hayden