Forget Colonies on Mars, Let’s Start Some Here

hippy manAs more boomers approach retirement, you see more articles about innovative communities, particularly those that build on affinity relationships. For example, there is a retirement community now in Southern California that is for retired individuals from the creative arts. Retired painters, writers, musicians, etc. reside in what is essentially an artists colony that is also a retirement community. I have also read about similar “colonies” established for the gay, lesbian and transgender population.

Rocinante Health Center, an ecotopian retirement and health care center on 100 acres of land adjacent to The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee, was designed for aging hippies. There are also collectives of retired airline pilots who want to live near airstrips and hangars, and religion-centered older hippiescommunities in Florida and Washington. Mosaic Commons in Berlin, Massachusetts is a cohousing development that hopes to merge privacy with community support in a manner that should appeal to the aging baby boomer who has always marched to her/his own drummer. The ability to share an organic garden, live in a LEED-certified green building, and be supportive of human diversity may be a very attractive formula for the still idealistic boomer.

One of the most recent affinity housing concepts to crop up is luring boomers back to college campuses with the call of life-long learning. Universities and colleges are creating communities where retirees can take classes, use the library, attend concerts and lectures for little or no fee. Some of these communities are for independent living, but assisted living and long-term care centers are going to be more popular as boomers get even older.

Given the demographics and this emerging trend, can the day be far off when there will be peace RVretirement colonies for horse lovers, all terrain vehicle owners, golfers (wait a second, we already do have those)? I see no reason why retirees with common interests and/or backgrounds should not colonize. You’ve got one third to one half your life in front of you, so why not spend it pursuing the interests you’ve always had and live with people who see it the same way you do.

For childless retirees, the lure of the affinity colony might possibly be even stronger. Without children to make end of life decisions for you, having a communal peer group can be a very reassuring way to live.

I personally would opt for the comedian colony, but my wife thinks we already live in one.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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