Get On Board the Silver Sage Train
Alan O’Hashi, Silver Sage Village Community resident, hosted his monthly “shmoozer” gathering at The Dairy Center of the Arts on February 9th, at 7pm in the Boedecker Theatre. The name of the event and film screening, “Aging Gratefully: The Power of Community,” introduced an important and developmental movement for the elderly culture: co-housing. O’Hashi, recovering from a septic ulcer and a life-altering lung disease, collaborated a film-full of interviews with Silver Sage residents, located in North Boulder, and the benefit of aging together, successfully.
Silver Sage re-defines the concept of neighborhood; what does it mean to be neighborly? What does it mean to exchange, engage, and connect? The intention behind this community is a lesson for all: what do we really, truly want? And how exactly do we get it? The application of co-housing here in the states was originally launched by Chuck Durrett, who was inspired by his observations of community in Denmark. Boulder, home to one of the nation’s three co-housing communities, strives to execute a functional neighborhood, which is directly linked to a higher quality of life. Durrett explains the mission statement as one that presents the desire to have “as much fun the second fifty years as we did the first.”
While challenges are faced in sharing common space, the goal for community housing is that the residents receive as much engagement as they seek, as well as equal amounts of privacy. Silver Sage combats the typicality of other neighborhoods, where people live isolated and retracted, with lights off and garage doors closed. O’Hashi claims that Silver Sage is “reminiscent of a small town, where everyone knows each other, where everyone cares.” Anne Glass, a co-housing program coordinator and conference facilitator, mentions the de-stigmatization of elderly folk through the concept of community living. The benefits of this lifestyle are less centered on the dependence of older people on the youth for care, and more on the interdependence of one another, towards one another.
Henry Kroll, a Silver Sage resident, claims that “having a relationship to the common space facilitates a relationship to others.” The properties provide accessibility to all residents, with conjoining pathways and ample opportunity for company. With community meals twice a week, Silver Sage provides opportunity for those above fifty to contribute to themselves and each other in a way they may otherwise be excluded. This “care coordinating” model, as Glass presents it, is a highly participatory process. Kroll explains his experience as “the graduate school of community,” where the sense of ability and capability are reclaimed and executed. Another Silver Sage resident, Margaret Porter, reflects that “old age is a very special time. We are being called to do things differently, when most would prefer to keep them the same.” O’Hashi, when introducing his project, explains community housing as a transitional time, where “the light goes on,” amidst the challenges of aging and changing.
What makes this kind of community so beautiful is the dual experience of participating in it, while continuing to develop it. There is an experimental aspect here, where residents have voices, constantly seeking to improve their lives under the umbrella question, “Do we age better together?” Leave it to Boulder to introduce such radical ideas and to have such willing participants. Co-housing redefines the time-clock assumptions and invalidations accredited to old age. Just because someone may be less capable than another, doesn’t mean they aren’t able in another way. Silver Sage makes space for those transitioning from younger to older in a mindfully, productively, and gently. Quality of life doesn’t have to plateau or decrease with the increase of age. Co-housing implements properties of life we’d all be lucky to share and practice. These residents are embracing themselves in their stage of life by honoring their desires to connect. Though many ideas of elderly folk are being broken here, there is one that continues to stick: the wisdom is profound, abundant, and inspiring. We could all learn something from one another, no matter the age, time or place. What an honor to be the youngest attendee of this event. Silver Sage paves a path for the rest of us seeking fulfillment. What do you really, truly want? How will you honor that desire? There’s no time like the present, and there’s no better age than now.