Building a Community: Mike’s Story
Dave and I and our board of directors are in the early stages of creating a community, a neighborhood where older adults, young families, and those with mild disabilities like our son, Mike, can live. This is a place where neighbors give and receive care, not only from each other, but through on-site services that cater to the needs of an intergenerational community.
As many of you know, Mike has led all of us, including his dad, Crom, and our friends, on a wonderful and difficult journey. Mike, who wants to be called Ziggy, has always been funny and creative. When he did begin to talk, he became loquacious. When he did walk, he moved fast and could be seen riding his bike all over town. Some of you remember him in those years.
Mike had dreams of being married and having a family, of having many friends. Like all of us, he wanted the warmth of community.
He still has his dreams and they are still beyond his reach. However, he has accomplished a lot– learning how to drive, working part time at a kennel and living on his own.
Navigating the world is hard for our loved ones like Ziggy. Bullying and abuse are not uncommon. Loneliness is common. Often parents are best friends. We have been alarmed that the spark, the smile, the energy, seem to have faded over the last few years.
Recently Ziggy went to a treatment center for depression. We were amazed at the changes when we visited him last week. He told us that he is happy there because life is structured and organized. He has made friends and is eating good food. Living in a community like this seems to create a sense of belonging.
Ziggy is our inspiration for building a community that bridges the gap between total independence and total dependence. Not only can this type of community be good for individuals like Ziggy, but a well-rounded community can be beneficial for adults who want to age in place or even young families who want to live in a community with long term friendships and support from neighbors.
We are currently in the process of organizing a community called Sweetgrass, modeling it after other successful communities in the United States. Our vision is to provide a community of intentional neighboring for those with mild disabilities, active seniors, young families and singles.
The hope is to find land near Nashville, create a farm to table community and hire a small staff for case management and community management. As we close out 2017, we are optimistic that 2018 will be abig year for Sweetgrass and a much better and happier year for the Ziggys in our lives.
Thank you, Mary Kay and Dave Walton