There are some beautiful things about the brain that is living with dementia.  One of them is the sense of now that is developed. It is different from the sense of now experienced by people without dementia. For some people with dementia, now does not come in the middle of before and after.  It includes before and after. This concept can be hard for those of us without dementia to grab ahold of.  But it is a nice idea to try to imagine. Here is an example. A number of people have lived at Hope & A Future with different types of dementia and diverse backgrounds.  Some left long time homes, while others came here after a series of changes. They settled into this new home as they began to experience friendship and love with the people they now lived with.  In time, this home ceased being a new place.  Their sense of home began to include  memories and experiences from their childhood home, their adult home and the home they called Hope & A Future.  All three at once. These resident’s thought we were mistaken when we said we had not met their parents or aunts and uncles because in their mind we currently shared a home with them and their young children who are also sometimes adults.  The only thing upsetting about this sense of now to the person with more advanced dementia is the idea that some of the people around them do not seem to know everyone in their now.  So we find ways to blend in together. One day as I was pondering some interactions, I realized that perhaps the dementia version of now is more accurate than the non dementia notion of now.  When we realize that  our childhood experiences color the way we experience adulthood and that childhood and adulthood memories affect the way we look at our future–NOW, really is a combination of then, now and what’s ahead. Our whole life really does affect every moment  I have been thinking about this lately for a number of reasons!

One reason is that we are entering a new phase of Hope & A Future’s development.  We are entering phase II of the development of the first TIIN. Phase I, II and III have been in my imagination for a long time–separately and together.  And as I go about the work of getting phase II started, people have begun saying some of the same things they said to me before phase I existed!  It took us 9 years to find the combination of support, encouragement and resources needed to buy our current property.  Our goal in phase I included  buying enough land to build the entire TIIN.  We wanted a place that felt like home–for residents and the live in staff.  I kept saying that we needed a place that felt like you were coming home to thanksgiving.  A place you felt  welcomed into and enjoyed being at. And we landed in that place! A beautiful home surrounded by nature. Our grounds are filled with space for flower and vegetable gardens, porches with rockers and beautiful open spaces for people and pets to play.

While we worked on the many steps of Phase I, people said so many beautiful things to encourage us. A favorite of mine was,  “It feels like you are bringing a bit of heaven to earth!” Recently people have begun saying those exact words again. The work of developing this has been long (over two decades) and has required the work of many great minds and backs! The work has been hard, creative, tedious, overwhelming, frustrating, gratifying, faith building and magical–all at once. It has taken a community to get this far and it will take a community to finish the first TIIN. Phase II develops the complete TIIN Pilot.

In the first phase we have taken a bite out of loneliness, watched younger and older people flourish with the magic of intergenerational exchange, and we have gone through times where we were not sure we could make it to the next step. That describes our now!  A volunteer was once painting with me in the hallway at Hope & A Future.  She looked at me and said, “You imagined this and now I am standing in it with you.  I feel like I am walking around in your brain!”  That is NOW!  In my brain,  the next phase of housing, programs and Intergenerational Contact Zones (ICZs) are as real as the building I work in. Even though I do not currently know how we will get to the otherside of our fundraising goal! In the end, I believe new friends will link arms with us, and together we will get to the otherside of this goal too!

In the last month Paula Reif and I were invited back to the Design Studies class, where we saw the results of a semester’s work by students on intergenerational design. Their projects are based on our expansion project.  The students did amazing work on everything from mission statements and logos to beautiful and useful intergenerational design ideas for
ICZs and 55+ life lease homes. We were excited to see how they took a new way of thinking to mind and heart!

This week we will have a research kick-off dinner with people from the School of Human Ecology!  They are going to begin to develop a research tool for the next phase of our project. Since writing our business plan (over two decades ago) I have hoped that we would someday have researchers involved with our project.  Best practices for Intentional Intergenerational Neighborhood work are yet to be established and research will be a necessary part of this process. Yet another NOW moment!

I hope some of you reading this Blog will feel as excited and impatient as we are–to get the next phase going!  If you have ideas or would like to join us as we work toward our fundraising goal–contact us at [email protected] ! Fundraising will help us build the ICZs which will be available to the greater community and  include affordable daycare for young and old, a multipurpose space for community meals, arts and activities, a reading room, commercial kitchen, accessible walking path and playground and workforce housing!  We would love to hear from you!

On June 1st we will have our second conversation about new beginnings in our 55+ life lease condos!  If you are thinking about your next adventure in living and would like to learn more, please join us! You can reserve a spot at [email protected]

 There will be information and conversation starting at 10AM and a light lunch at 11:30 to noon.  We want to hear from you!  

In the meantime, enjoy our beautiful spring with a new friend!



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