I am in North Carolina getting ready to kick off the fourth annual Mountain Green Sustainable Communities Conference which will bring together building-industry professionals, educators and others interested in exploring best practices in sustainable and green construction, development, planning and design.
The event, a project of Warren Wilson College’s Environmental Leadership Center, will happen Wednesday, June 23, on the campus in Swannanoa.
“Each year, we want to provide a new audience with information about how to have less impact on the environment,” says Phillip Gibson, the center’s director of research and community outreach. “This year, our focus is long-term care and the ‘aging-in-place’ sectors — the gerontological community, if you will. Our speakers bring international knowledge and new interest to some long-standing issues. What’s a truly livable community? How can folks age in place, stay near friends and family, live life to the fullest? It turns out that what’s good for seniors is good for everyone.”
A conference headliner, Dr. Bill Thomas, offers a refreshing yet common-sense perspective that’s revolutionizing what long-term-care facilities can be. As a nursing-home director in upstate New York in the mid-’90s, Thomas moved dogs, cats, birds and plants into his facility, radically shifting the focus from delivering scheduled institutional care to nurturing residents’ dignity and emotional well-being. Dubbed the Eden Alternative, the project was warmly received, leading Thomas to create a nonprofit that now boasts 300 “Eden home conversions” in the U.S. and an additional 200 abroad.