[Editor’s Note: Dr. Thomas has invited Eden Alternative’s Europe Coordinator Christa Monkhouse to guest-post on a weekly basis from across the Big Pond. Christa is personally responsible for introducing the Eden Alternative to Europe, first in the UK, then Denmark, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and soon in Sweden, Finland and other European nations. Stay-tuned for regular updates on ‘Monkhouse Mondays’.]
From the European Culture Capital to the European Care Capital* – What else?
Every year the European Union (EU) selects and celebrates a cultural capital of Europe. They spend considerable amounts of money to polish them up and promote tourism. In fact, several “B-Cities“ have, through this program, become permanently attractive European tourist destinations. One such city is Graz, the capital city of Styria (Arnold Schwarzenegger was raised nearby), and Linz has been chosen for 2009. It’s the capital of Upper Austria, on the (blue) Danube close to where I was born and raised. It boasts galleries, musical performances — such as the impressive “cloud of sounds” — and the new and well known solar-city, an energy sustainability experiment, with community and neighbourhood-building projects attached to it.
The time is now right to begin selecting the European Care Capital. Cities could apply to show how they have provided an excellent quality of life for their Elders, how they make them welcome, safe and how they promote growth by providing integrated services, imaginative housing, prevention, education for elders and carers, families and integration for people with dementia into society (see my post last Monday). Money would be proudly invested to motivate other communities to strive for the same excellence.
An inspiring example is the “generation-village“ in Burgenland, Austria, near the Hungarian border. The Strem-Village senior center is now being extended into an intergenerational village, bringing back Elders, creating work places mainly for women and thus benefitting the local school, the kindergarden, local businesses and making this rather remote village in wine growing country among rolling hills and open skys an attractive place to raise families. More housing is being built and population is on the increase while neighbouring villages are losing people. Mr. Peter Kalman (firstname.lastname@example.org), the CEO of the development, will speak at the Lahsa-Vienna conference in May. He will explain how their approach makes perfect business sense in addition to preserving and enhancing local culture beyond measurement.
So why not copy, copy, copy on a grander scale.
[*Footnote: The European Care Capital is not my idea, but was put forward to me in 2005 by Mr. Rainer Bensch, a politician from Bremen, Germany. He met with me to talk about the Eden Alternative and how it could be the “blanket“ for our society to care for Elders and how European Care Capitals could become it’s gold standard.
— Christa Monkhouse