A few years ago, a small group of couples, all of us city dwellers living in townhouses and condo apartments, found ourselves talking about the future. We asked each other what we would do when caring for ourselves in our homes became too much. We could each struggle on, bring in domestic care and home health care (assuming we could afford it), but was this really what we wanted? What about when one half the couple was gone, which of course is likely at some point, worsening the isolation and loneliness? Some of us had moved from outlying areas only recently. We didn't want to have to “give up” on city life and move to an adult living community in the suburbs. We wanted the option of walking to restaurants and cultural events, not having to rely on the automobile or community-owned buses and schedules. We began looking around and soon found there were no options available in the downtown area that fully met our dreams. In fact, we could find nothing like what we envisioned in the entire nation. If we wanted to build our dream, we had to start from scratch and do the work ourselves. Today, we are well down that road.
What is it we are seeking? At the top of the list is Community. Beyond simply continuing to savor the independence and joys of downtown life, we want to live among friends whose company we enjoy and who hopefully will be there for the inevitable tough times each of us is bound to face. We want to remain independent, enjoy, and not burden our families and friends as we age. And, we want quality, lifetime health care. To these dreams we add a desire for diversity in race, religion, wealth and gender preferences, and common ownership with a major say in management. We see ourselves also as having responsibility toward our city and world, pursuing opportunities for involvement, and supporting one another in those activities. And, we see our community as visionary, continuously evolving, redefining itself in terms of its own needs and those of the larger society.
Many, including some “experts”, said to us: “All this in the city where costs are so high? It can’t be done!” Shaken at times, but stubborn in our vision, we forged ahead. One of our first steps was to hold an open, informal gathering announced by word-of-mouth. Over sixty persons showed up, many ready to roll up their sleeves and pitch in. The number of interested individuals grows every day. We surveyed our members and found strong unity of purpose and ideals, including commitment to a building location that is as central to the heart of the city as possible. We became a non-profit, tax exempt corporation, one of our members designed a logo for us, and we created a web page. Our board members bring critical skills in organizational development, marketing, public relations, banking, investments, fund-raising, accounting, health care, nursing, social work, education, real estate, architecture, engineering and construction. The combined value of their experience and time is worth a fortune in the marketplace.
We continue to clarify and refine our vision, committing ourselves to a building of simple comforts and practicality, one that will be a model of “green architecture.” Also, we are discovering that an in-city location offers unique opportunities to benefit from the rich resources of an urban setting. Unlike adult living communities in suburban areas, we do not have to recreate many spaces and services needed. Numerous options already exist close by - shops, restaurants, cultural activities, work opportunities, hospitals, social services, public transportation and so on. Sharing helps conserve resources - our own and those of the earth.
Community means taking care of one another. In this and other respects, we ally ourselves with Friends (Quaker) traditions and practices, as have so many successful adult living communities in our region and elsewhere - principles of simplicity, mutual caring, service to others and sound management in business undertakings. To this we add a key aspiration and need these days - green building, or as Friends and others often phrase it, "walking lightly on the Earth."
Click here to see the early activities of FitC in the 2012-2014 newsletters.