The Old North End Neighborhood Intergenerational Village
Connecting neighbors, creating community
Intergenerational Villages exist to provide the organizational support necessary for neighbors to come together and form a community where everyone knows and is known by everyone else. When people know each other, they come together and form reciprocal relationships where they both rely, and are relied upon to take care of one another, creating a strong and connected community where everyone can dwell in warm and welcoming relationships with those who dwell closest to us, our neighbors.
The Old North End Neighborhood intergenerational Village (ONEN iVillage) is based on the intuitive concept that neighbors can and should take care of neighbors. We are committed to ensuring that residents of all ages can remain in their homes for as long as possible, and continue in a community that facilitates lives of meaning, social connection, and safety. To do so, the ONEN iVillage believes in addressing the specific needs of neighbors by connecting other neighbors to volunteer services, as well as providing the organizational oversight to plan and execute a diverse range of social opportunities.
The reciprocal iVillage approach allows all members to receive and give services when they are able and wish to do so. For example, an elderly neighbor may find herself unable to rake leaves in her yard, while a younger neighbor family may be happy to help. In turn, that same elderly neighbor might be able to offer story time reading to her neighbor’s young children, or simply keep an eye on their house while they are away at work or gone for a trip. By taking care of each other, these neighbors have ensured aging in place is possible, the neighborhood is safer, and kids grow up being cared for. In the iVillage, every individual no matter their age or particular set of abilities has some way of participating in the community, something to offer their neighbors, and the chance to form close relationships across generational lines.
The ONEN iVillage emerged from discussions in 2014, when Innovations in Aging Collaborative (IIAC) created an action team to develop Colorado Springs’ first Village. IIAC staff traveled to several existing Villages in the U.S. and compiled a list of best practices and strategies for developing our own implementation. IIAC also began searching for a location in Colorado Springs that would serve as the inaugural village. Because this Village was to be the first in Colorado Springs, possible locations were evaluated not just on demographic data or need, but also on eagerness and capacity. The pilot neighborhood needed to have a pre-existing level of organization and communication among its members, be excited about the Village model and have the capacity to help IIAC implement it. Based on these parameters, as well as several demographic characteristics, the Old North End Neighborhood quickly emerged as an ideal location for the first Village.
The Old North End already has a well-established neighborhood association, newsletter, and many avenues of communication with its residents. Furthermore, according to the most recent data from the American Community Survey by the U.S Bureau of the Census, the Neighborhood boasts a wide spread of ages, socioeconomic levels, marital status, and educational attainment. All of these are key to making the ONEN iVillage a truly intergenerational and functional place, with a broad array of needs, desires, and ways to help others. As awareness of and excitement about Villages grows in Colorado Springs, and as IIAC learns how to launch successful Village projects, we are excited to help other neighborhoods in all parts of town and with all demographic features develop their own individualized implementations.