The coolest part of managing Dr. Bill Thomas’ ChangingAging Tour is getting to take the pulse of dozens communities nationwide and feel their excitement and learn about their efforts to change aging.
I can tell you that the communities with the strongest pulse have something unique in common: they are members of the grassroots Village to Village Network.
Village to Village Network as a national movement with local roots. All Villages are formed by individuals coming together as a community and choosing to take control of their own future, as a community, rather than go it alone and hope for the best.
The Village to Village Network is a national grass-roots network run by local communities. Each network is slightly different, offering different memberships and services, but they are all membership-driven. To find a network, see the Village to Village directory.
There are 200 operating Villages and countless more are being organized by individuals just like you in hundreds of communities across the nation. There’s probably one underway in your neighborhood right now.
When I moved to Seattle last year I became active in the PNA Village in my neighborhood as a member, volunteer and board member. I enjoy being a younger member of the Village advocating for a more intergenerational approach to “aging in community”.
Last night our local PBS station ran a wonderful news magazine story on the Village movement featuring my Village. One of the stories it shared was about 89-year-old member Wilma Bishop, who had to give up driving after falling:
Suddenly, errands that were part of her daily life became obstacles. Wilma had no way to get around. Her daughter lives in West Seattle but wasn’t able to spend her days driving her mother to her various destinations, and transporting groceries on the bus was too daunting for Wilma to consider.
“I need to get to the grocery store,” Bishop says. “It keeps me from going into some sort of retirement facility, which I do not want if I can help it.”
Luckily, Bishop is a member of the Phinney Neighborhood Association, or PNA. The PNA has a program called PNA Village, a part of the national Village to Village network, that helps seniors stay in their home and community. The program has a strong network of volunteers who assist seniors with non-medical tasks such as yard work, minor repair work, or rides. The network also provides seniors with access to a vetted vendor list for more professional needs that includes electricians, dog walkers or tech support.
Rachel, a PNA Volunteer, helps Wilma with groceries. Courtesy of KCTS9 In Close
Wilma joined the PNA Village and now has three different volunteers who help her run errands and continue living in her home. This is not “independent” living, but richer and more rewarding “interdependent” living.
Supporting the Village to Village Network and local Villages is one of the goals of the Age of Disruption Tour. In several cities, including Seattle and Portland, we’re donating all the ticket revenues from the Tour events to local Villages like the PNA Village, NEST Village, Wider Horizons Village and Villages NW in Portland.
Each tour stop also includes a community engagement lunch with Bill and the Village movement is one of the most frequently discussed topics. Next week at Chicago’s May 8 tour stop, our lunch will be hosted in partnership with Lincoln Park Village, a national model for a successful Village (and one of our best local partners during the Second Wind Tour!). We are also encouraging everyone we meet who is interested in the Village Network or already active in a Village to help grow the movement by attending the 2015 National Village Gathering, which coincidentally is being held right here in Seattle October 5-7.
Check out the great KCTS video above or read the full story here. Special thanks to my friend Stacey Jenkins, the talented producer who shot this story and a fellow parent at my daughter’s elementary school. That’s right, it takes a Village!
Jennifer Berg says
Super Excited about developing VtV in Stokesdale, NC. Let’s keep this revolution rolling!
Hi Kavan & Bill,
Great work! Publisizing the real advantages of the village movement is really great. There is a great village in Petaluma. But, I think it also important to note the cost. Some villages exclude people because they don’t have the money to pay the monthly dues.
I am such a person, locked down by a fixed income.
Kavan Peterson, Editor, ChangingAging.org says
Thanks for sharing that comment Lucky! My Village has a reduced membership fee for low income members of the community. It is entirely up to each community to decide whether or not to make the effort to include lower income and/or higher needs members and I’m proud our Village has done so. I will shoot Petaluma Villages an email and let them know we’re having this conversation.
Anne Greenblatt says
Thanks for your excellent article Kavan. And thanks to our friend Lucky for highlighting the challenge that most Villages face as nonprofit start-ups. We are working hard to create an affordable peer support network and build financial stability as well as a track record of success, so that in a year or two we can qualify for grants and/or attract funding from local businesses to be able to offer subsidized fees to members with more limited incomes. Most Villages around the country say they have taken that long to reach this goal – it’s an important one!
Anne Greenblatt, Steering Committee Chair, Village Network of Petaluma