Villages are a kind of intentional community whose members share a common vision of a community in which they can age in place. Like Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), villages/intentional communities embrace the strategy of bringing services to people rather than moving people to services.
Characteristics Shared by Most Village Founders
- They are planners who have decided to be proactive about their future.
They want to age in place in their own neighborhoods.
They believe in volunteering & being of service.
They are committed to building & nurturing community.
They see the value/importance of creating something that benefits more than just themselves and their families.
They are willing to work, frequently over a period of years, to bring their vision to fruition.
- They are not in denial about aging.
- They want choices in their elder living & care options.
- They do not believe that Medicare will meet all their needs.
- They do not expect—or want—“experts” to solve their problems.
They are aware of their collective buying power and intend to control how and when services are delivered.
- They are willing to pay a reasonable price for the services they need to age in place, but expect them to be affordable, rather than priced out of most people’s reach.
Who’s Needed in the Village Planning Group?
(and later, its Committees & Board of Directors)
- Committed workers. People who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done over a long period of time (2-5 years).
- Intelligent risk-takers. People who are creative and entrepreneurial, who have a willingness to experiment, who learn from trial and error, and who can commit to keep going despite setbacks until they find a workable solution
- Good at negotiation & relationship building. People who are comfortable approaching and vetting potential allies & partners and negotiating mutually beneficial relationships.
- Live inside the Village service area. While you don’t have to be a long-time resident (and some new residents actually bring a valuable perspective), Village founders need to live within the village boundaries. It’s also useful to have representatives from many different neighborhoods within the Village serving on the planning group.
- Nonprofit experience and professional expertise. Experience in the nonprofit sector or on local nonprofit boards or neighborhood associations. Expertise in community activism, fundraising, recruiting & managing volunteers, and founding/managing start-ups & small businesses. People who are good at research and working with data. A real estate agent, a lawyer, a financial advisor/analyst, bookkeeper/accountant, advisors from the university/academic world. People with experience with aging relatives or professional experience working with this population.
- People who are comfortable with money & fundraising. Can give or get. Will approach potential sponsors for fundraising events. Will seek out grants and other funding opportunities.
- People with community connections. Know lots of people in the area, like to make connections. Can connect the Village with “high credibility/influence” local people to get behind the project and/or have local media connections
- People with expertise with website, PR, marketing, and promotional materials design.
- People who “play well with others” and enjoy working collaboratively.
- People who reflect the age, gender, class, economic, and ethnicity mix of the Village.