Each month I feel like we are closer, but we are not quite to the point that we can jump off the starting block with our expansion.  But it does feel like we are almost ready to approach the starting block!!  

In February we had a meeting with some people from Dane County that work with regulations  pertinent to Hope & A Future’s ability to move our Therapeutic Interactive Intergenerational Neighborhood (TIIN) forward. We are waiting to hear what they find. Our proposed expansion will add: additional intergenerational common spaces, a stage, day care for children and adults, an after school program, and further develop accessible use for our beautiful green space.

My primary role during the meeting was to explain what the TIIN model is.  If you have been following us for awhile, you know that  the TIIN is an intentional neighborhood model.  That means, it is designed to encourage social interaction and teamwork among neighbors.  Some of those neighbors will be staff working shoulder to shoulder with neighbors to build equitable social support systems.  Brenda Eheart’s new book NEIGHBORS: the power of the people next door, does a beautiful job of explaining how this works.  The culture is intentionally diverse and welcoming.  Our goal is that no one feels invisible.  We plan to add independent housing for people 55+ and affordable housing for young families desiring mentoring and support as they work to move forward in life.  The goal is that everyone will use their abilities to help others.  Everyone is both helped and helpful.  That is our simple definition for purpose and belonging.  Purpose and belonging are known to benefit everyone’s mental and physical health. This is such a common sense approach to life that during our meeting one person from the county stated she was happy to see this intergenerational project come forward.  She had read about the many intergenerational projects going on in Europe and wondered why she had not seen one come her way before this.  Tim, the pro bono lawyer who for the last 17 years has been sifting through the laws that stop this from happening, offered to send his 17 page outline of the regulations that have stopped us and others from moving forward!  He then explained the route we are pursuing now–which will require some study by County staff.  Everyone at the meeting expressed the hope that our path will work.  We are waiting to hear what they find. We will also have intergenerational common spaces, a stage, day care for children and adults, and an after school program.  We all agreed that when this finally works out, it will be a landmark project–making a way for others to do similar projects.  But we don’t know if we are there yet. We are working to set up a  meeting with another group that will also need to work with us.  We feel like we are getting there, but we do not absolutely know yet!  And that is why this is what it feels like to try to build a TIIN…

I hope to have more news next month!  Until then, enjoy the sunshine and love your neighbor from a distance!




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