Seniors-Together unveils an innovative approach to retirement living
What if you wanted to live an active, healthy life for as long as possible? (Don’t we all?) What if, as you got older, you wanted to make a difference for life on earth? What if you felt action was urgently needed given worsening agricultural shocks, melting ice, and catastrophic storms caused by a warming climate? What if you worried about a poisoned environment and weakened life support system?
What if you wondered what life will be like for future society or your grandchildren? What if you wanted to improve quality of life for yourself and others? What if you wanted to make your own life decisions living not in isolation, but with close access to people you respect and the life you love? How might you assure your personal security and longevity? Recognizing these issues, would you do anything to proactively prepare for the future?
These activist questions come to those unwilling to just let things happen and unwilling to turn our lives over to corporate management. In fact, a small group in Chattanooga has been asking such questions and seriously collaborating to carve out answers both for themselves and as a model for others. They plan on living full lives recognizing that a mutually supportive and sustainable community is the way to do it. We call ourselves Seniors-Together.
Envision a Southside Chattanooga building, nearly 10,000 square feet in size, built from sustainable and reused materials to shelter around 16 people. It will feature alternative energy from solar and geothermal sources with a goal toward net zero energy use. It will incorporate natural daylighting, green roof, and agricultural plots. It’s in a walkable/bikeable location with accessible public transportation and is close to green spaces, social gathering places, and daily living supplies. This ‘village’ setting greatly lessens vehicle emissions while it saves time and money.
But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more! Joining Seniors-Together, makes you part of a mutually supportive intentional community bent on good health and positive aging. Numerous studies show that meaningful activities along with connections to others are key components. In a study in Sardinia, labeled “The Island Where People Forget to Die”, a cultural attitude that celebrates the elderly kept them engaged in the community and in extended-family homes until they were in their 100s.
This benefit in Seniors-Together is gained by everyone participating in consensus management thus supporting the whole community with shared responsibility. Residents divvy up chores or hire help. Prepare a shared meal for all. Tend to the garden or make sure a shared vehicle is working well. Learn from the skills and interests of other residents and always have company for activities or chit chat. Going on vacation? Your dog or cat will be fed. Feeling ill? Someone will know.
How much space will you have living in this shared building? Approximately 3,500 square feet, of which you only pay for about 1,000 square feet. The building layout assures social interaction because all private spaces (kitchen, bathroom, sitting and bedroom areas) open on to a common space of which you own only a portion, but have access to all 24/7/365.
The common space includes a full kitchen purchased from Mia Cuchina when they went out of business., as well as guest bedrooms, conversational areas, restrooms, laundry, exercise, music and library areas.
This creative place-making project models a future way of living for many. It also positions Seniors-Together to lessen carbon footprints by sharing resources and allowing residents to live in a life-affirming, socially just, and economical way. Being isolated in our silos with our stuff seems counterintuitive to long life especially if you can make contributions to achieving a more environmentally healthy and just world.
Interested in joining? Call (423) 892-5237 or visit seniors-together.com for more information.
Sandra Kurtz is an environmental community activist and is presently working through the Urban Century Institute. You can visit her website to learn more at enviroedu.net