National Village Conference
National Village Gathering in Seattle: Sharing the Lessons.
Bellingham At Home is part of a much larger movement. Across this country, 190 Villages are creating sustainable, intergenerational neighborhoods, and 185 more Villages are in development. In early October, seven members of the Steering Committee joined more than 300 attendees at the national Village-to-Village Network gathering held in Seattle. The enthusiasm was palpable as Village enthusiasts (staff, members, advocates) from all over the USA came together to share their experience and learn from one another in two and a half days of talks, questions and breakout sessions with knowledgeable professionals and seasoned organizers.
Attendees from Bellingham At Home at Seattle conference: Elaine Cress, Mary Carlson, Richard Abbott, Barb Evans, Marci Haskell and Kate Birr. (Not pictured: Steve Morris.)
Seven Bellingham At Home members were energized by their experience at the national meeting of “villages” in Seattle in October. Village representatives were there to share ideas and to learn from each other and from the knowledgeable professionals who presented during the two and a half day conference.
Articulated by Edgar Cahn, speech writer for Robert Kennedy, this is a movement away from becoming an isolated separated culture, as described in Bowling Alone, and toward a culture that connects with neighbors, engages in local community and invests in creating sustainable living as we age. "Aging is ultimately a team sport" fits the spirit of the conference and the Village movement. From established Villages, we received templates for tested ways of doing the tasks that lie ahead—recruiting and vetting service providers and volunteers, managing member service requests, developing the web-based tools for running this volunteer-driven and member-supported operation. Our membership in the Village-to-Village Network provides us with access to technical support for both our pre-launch phase, and in the future for ongoing operations. We are not blazing this trail alone! Villages that are up and running are eager to share what they have learned. Using what we've learned from them, we are establishing partnerships and integrating into the fabric of the Bellingham profit, non-profit and volunteer communities.
Following ideas presented by Beacon Hill Village, the model for all subsequent Villages, we're clarifying our promise to the community so that you will be able to immediately identify what Bellingham at Home represents for this community. In so doing we hope to attract and keep members. This process is also known as "branding."
We learned of several Villages in the Pacific Northwest, some in operation and others, like us, still in development. Out of this connection grew the notion of a regional network to support each other to develop and grow.
Inspired by the conference, we are digging in to pre-launch activities with renewed enthusiasm. If you wish to join in this effort, or if you have questions, please write to us at info@Bellinghamathome.org.