The ‘Village to Village Network’ helps communities establish and manage their own aging in place initiatives called Villages.
In 2010, the Village to Village Network – a U.S-based organisation that collaborates to maximize the growth, impact and sustainability of individual Villages and the Village Movement – was formed. The Network provides expert guidance, resources and support to help communities establish and maintain their Villages.
For those interested in joining a village, what’s the best way? What’s the first step?
The best way is to check our website where there’s an interactive village map with multiple search options to search by city or state. There’s additional contact information if people want to get in touch directly, or they can also reach out to use and we’ll connect them to the local village.
If someone wants to start a Village, what are the first few steps?
Get on the website and explore the villages to learn more about the model. See what resources are available, connect with a village that might be somewhat close to your area, [and] see what other interest there is in your area. Are there other individuals interested in doing this? Are there existing nonprofits or organizations you can partner with? Is the local government interested? Start to gauge that interest.
This is not a one-person job so the more support you can get up-front, the better. Start thinking through what your village might look like. What’s already available in your community? What’s lacking?
Early partnerships are really important. Even if they’re not directly involved with starting the village, just plant a bug in their ear and see what kind of resources they could help provide. In return, see if there’s something the village can give back to them.
What makes a successful senior village? What are some tips to help it thrive?
They key is building up that strong sense of community. That’s what really sells people on the concept and idea. Some communities still do that well, but I think we’re starting to lose that. Whether people move or just get busy, that can be harder to come by. I talked to a couple villages recently that don’t have as strong a sense of community as they would like. They’re trying to build it up by letting their members know that they have a community and a network of support, not just a ride to the doctor, but someone to talk to or lend a helping hand.
Aging in place is a really great concept, but it can be isolating. If you don’t have children or other family living near you having someone to check in on you, or bring your groceries once a week, or make sure you’re getting out of the house and participating in things, can be an important piece of this.
Are there other challenges senior villages face? If so, how are they being addressed?
Broader sustainability of the village model is the biggest challenge, especially revenue and revenue diversification. Villages are really trying to keep their membership affordable. Membership only covers 40-60 percent of their revenue so they have to figure out how to fill in the gaps.
Being more for-profit business minded when it comes to building partnerships and bringing in different revenue streams is really important. We’re looking at, and focusing more on, what some of those other models for nonprofits or associations are. We can help educate our villages about resources we can provide and partnerships we can provide that might trickle down to them and bring more sustainability to the movement as a whole.
What other tips can you offer for those interested in joining the senior village movement?
Even if you’re just exploring the idea of a senior village, we have an introductory membership that’s $100 for six months. It gives 10 people in your community access to all our resources, including the Village 101 Toolkit and our discussion forum, to see what’s there and what this is all about. You can start exploring in your community and see what might be needed.