In late November, Monika and I attended the Arbor West Neighbors forum at the Oak Park Public Library titled "Creating and Recreating Home: Options for Aging in Community." Arbor West Neighbors is a grassroots, inter-generational organization of neighbors connecting to empower adults to thrive as they age in the community. Their goal is to support the residents of Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, and Austin who desire to age in the home of their choice through the promotion of an age-integrated society that recognizes the voices, power, and needs of engaged adults. You can learn more about Arbor West Neighbors by clicking here.
The forum was broken up into a pair of panel discussions lead by a variety of subject matter experts, housing advocates and village resources, followed by a number of smaller group conversations, leveraging the audience, that continued to share ideas around topics like cooperative housing, adaptive re-use, and alternative housing opportunities for consideration in the overarching conversation around aging in suburban communities like Oak Park.
I joined the group discussing "tiny homes", a conversation facilitated by Paul Schultz, the designer and builder of the Toybox tiny home. Where zoning convention allows, tiny homes are becoming increasingly popular home options for those wishing to live more simply and affordably. The conversation at our table focused on the kinds of options and opportunities that might exist around the utilization of a tiny housing strategy within a village like Oak Park. That included blocks of houses on open properties, multi-story tiny housing and using the footprint as a model for a coach house on the properties with larger footprints. This was just one of a number of discussions around the opportunity to think differently as it regards solving the problems of a population wishing to age in place.
Living Fully At Home has opted to become a member of Arbor West Neighbors and we're looking forward to supporting the programs, advocacy activities and events like the recent housing forum. If you have an interest in helping empower seniors or disabled individuals as they seek to continue living in their communities, we'd highly recommend seeking out groups like Arbor West Neighbors.