Friday, April 4, 2008

Residential Sustainable Communities

I am a retired 68 year old living in Kensington Johannesburg, divorced but with a partner who lectures at the University of Limpopo and visits me when she can.

I was intending to move into a retirement facility in about my mid 70s and on enquiring about availability of accommodation therein I found that in a retirement facility near me there was a twenty year long waiting list for cottages. Their shortest waiting list, first floor one bedroom flats, was three years long. It would seem long waiting lists for retirement facilities are currently the norm. One of the reasons for this of course is that people are living between 10 to 15 years longer than they used to forty or more years ago. This set me thinking. Perhaps this situation actually provides an opportunity for a new life after retitrement. Are there retirees out there who would be interested in working together to form a residential community, I wondered. Hence this blog.

For many years I have been very concerned about the destruction that humankind is wreaking upon our natural environment. As my knowledge of the steadily increasing destruction expanded I became more and more despondent about any kind of long term future for humankind. Over the Easter weekend I spent a fair amount of time surfing the web looking at environmental web sites and I became even more despondent because the bulk of the information contained in them seemed to be predicated on fixing particular issues that arose from what I saw as the real problem which is the West's total way of living which is completely unsustainable and which the rest of humankind seems hell bent on following.

Unless humankind changes to living in a completely sustainable manner our species, and many other species along with us, are doomed. Unfortunately in this matter of changing the way we live, which can be compared to trying to turn a huge ocean liner around, we, as a species, might not make the needed changes fast enough. In this case, which is a definite possibility, what is to be done?

It seems to me that those of us who are aware of this problem are in a similar position to that of Noah before the flood and like Noah it is incumbent upon us to create Arks or pockets of completely sustainable living which mght, just might, God willing, survive the looming environmental catastrophe should it befall humankind. Such Arks will of necessity be comprised of small communities and the more of them that there are the greater our species chances of survival.

This is where the idea of residential communities of retirees came in, residential communities of reirees doing what it takes to live sustainably so that they can serve as exmplars to others seeking to also adopt sustainable life styles.

As I am a long tgime spiritual practioner having been a Quaker since 1963, an Iyengar Yoga practitioner since 1985 and a Vajaryana Buddhist since 1987 my vision is of a residential community of financially independent spiritual practitioners who are also environmental activists. Anybody who is interested or wants to discuss this concept is more than welcome to contact me either by email or telephonically at 011 616 4204.


Steve Hayes said...

Wouldn't it be more sustainable to have a multi-generational community?

Just a thought.

Rory Short said...

Yes Steve, it would, I think. However the particular idea of a retired persons residential community came to me when I discovered that retirement facilities in Johannesburg generally have years long waiting lists. I thought there might be about to be retired or already retired people who would, rather than sitting on a waiting list for years, think of moving into a purposeful residential community now rather than later. So I started putting the idea out there. The responses I have had so far have been from much younger people who generally think it is a good idea. No retired or about to be retired people have responded which makes me think that a multi-generational residential community might be more appropriate.

Helen said...

This is of particular interest to me as for the last two years I have been exploring retirement communities in Pretoria for my parents. They are 78 and 77 years old, independent thinkers, and although they were finding it hard to maintain their large house, and cope with its stairs, neither of them felt able to fit in to the retirement communities here; and some here also had waiting lists, although only 2 year ones. We solved the problem by them moving into a town house within 5 min walking distance of where I live, so forming a community, of a sort, where they can maintain their independence but where support is close at hand. I have also been looking at communities for less able bodied/disabled people, and wonder if these might not be able to be integrated with other sustainable communities?

Rory Short said...

Helen the issues that your parents [in respect of retirement facilities] and you [for your brother] are grappling with are in my view best dealt with in a communal way. The issue of moving to environmentally sustainable life styles, which we are all being faced with through the environmental destruction wrought by humans, is another one that actually demands to be tackled collectively.

For reason of the urgent need for all of us to move to environmebtally sustainable life styles I think for a start we need to form workable communities of like minded people who will work together on tackling both in theory and in practice the how to's of this move.

Google for Transition Towns to have a look at what groups of people in various towns are trying to do to prepare their towns and fellow citizens to accommodate the coming end of oil supplies.

Also it might interest you to have a look at this website that I have just discovered