“Community organising is all about building grassroots support. It’s about identifying the people around you with whom you can create a common, passionate cause. And it’s about ignoring the conventional wisdom and, instead, playing the game by very different rules.” Tom Peters
I’m a big fan of Tom Peters who has spent his entire career challenging the status quo. Something we try to emulate at Evermore. We’ve campaigned for over six years to abolish institutional residential care and introduce appealing options to continue to grow in older age, including the small household.
Places, however, are nothing without community. We are all social animals and thrive in the company of others. I should know. I’ve lived on my own for the past seven years since Dr McKee died and I can tell you it’s no fun. It’s boring, it’s monotonous and it’s lonely.
I have a really busy working life and spend quality time with lots of great people every week. But dark winter nights and weekends can stretch out forever as I’ve not spent time building new friendships on my own. Imagine what it will be like if I ever stop working!
That’s why the intentional community we build into our Evermore households is not just a campaign or cause, it’s very personal. It gets harder to make new friends as you get older. In many neighbourhoods we can be on nodding terms but rarely interact. Sometimes it takes a bit of a nudge to get a ‘community’ to develop. It’s less about physical place and much more about people. That’s what we tend to forget when we’re designing new retirement blocks. Where is the heart and soul in a building if we don’t set out to create real relationships and a community to belong to?
Naturally occurring communities
This weekend I went to one of my favourite places in the country, Conwy in North Wales, a world heritage site no less. It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone. This doesn’t mean they all like each other all the time, but they rub along very well and are incredibly welcoming to us regular visitors.
At the heart of the community is the pub. The Albion, with its original pumps from the 1920s, is mine and Hector’s favourite, not least due to its dog friendliness. It’s a place I can wander in after a bracing walk and be greeted as a friend. This weekend was all about Six Nations, an equally passionate cause and lively subject for debate over a few beers; whichever team you support.
It’s this community and the feeling of belonging that I miss most during the week. That’s why I’m so keen to create Evermore households in towns across the country. We all need to feel part of something and have friends to share experiences with every day.
Let’s see what we can do together to make this happen. Fancy collaborating to nudge our communities into life?
Sara McKee, Evermore Founder & Director of Market Innovation
Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraMcKeeFRSA
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