The Green Houses are Here — at VMRC!
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time or even occasionally, you know that I’ve been keeping track of the new Green House Homes at Woodland Park with descriptions, pictures from the groundbreaking, and many construction images. The new neighborhood in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will be a special community that enables elders who have traditionally needed support in a nursing home, to live in a home setting while continuing to maintain much independence. Check out all of my posts about Woodland Park below.
The good news is that the these three beautiful homes at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community are almost finished. The grand opening weekend is January 5th and 6th. After that, move-in begins, with each home welcoming residents and establishing itself over a two-week period (6 weeks total).
I toured one of the Woodland Park homes recently. Finishing details were in progress, but already the house was filled with light and space, a private room for each resident, a kitchen that anyone can use, and lots of common areas, including a great (and grand) fireplace. The houses are constructed to be accessible — but almost nothing looks institutional. The goal of these homes is to provide a place where elders can live and “maintain self-care abilities longer, experience less depression, and receive timelier intervention as health conditions change.” (VMRC website). Basically, these beautiful buildings look like — well homes.
Take the furniture, for instance.
About a year ago on the day of the groundbreaking, I visited my parents for an extra day, and we had lunch with their large interfaith group. People asked me why I was visiting, and when I excitedly told them about the first shovels of dirt that would be turned that afternoon at VMRC, four or five people mentioned their concern for the trees that had come down to make room for the construction. That afternoon at the ceremony I learned that indeed the trees had come down — as few as possible were cut — but that all of the wood from the trees would be used for furniture in the three Woodland Park homes. I’ve included two pictures of the results — tables and a cabinet for each home.
The Green House Project blog has a holiday post, It’s a Wonderful Life at the Green House Project, sharing the amazing successes and reflecting on, “on the power of creating real homes, meaningful lives and empowerment for those who live and work in Green House homes.”
Since I’ve been writing these posts I’ve received perhaps a dozen e-mails from readers wishing that a Green House Home was available in their areas. My answer is always the same – The Green House Project website is where to get started.
I almost forgot to mention. Dr. Bill Thomas, the physician and geriatrician who is the founder, philosopher, and muse of the Green House and Eden Alternative movements (check out his Changing Aging blog), is going to speak at one of the VMRC grand opening events. Check out his book, What Are Old People For? to learn lots more about his vision for aging elders.