Reimagining the Inner City Residential Suburb
There is a huge opportunity for small sustainability minded investors and residents of inner city residential neighbourhoods to collaborate in the full redevelopment of their communities. These neighbourhoods were developed in the 50's, 60's and 70's. They have been subject to declining populations. The demographic profile has a very high percentage of population in the above 65 years of age bracket when compared to the general population. In my previous post of "Social Sustainability, A Village in the City" I outlined some of the challenges and opportunities. On Feb 25th a small group gathered to discuss the concept and this report is the result. If you read this and are interested in starting a "Village House" I can help you get it done, contact me, email@example.com
Initial Takeaways from the workshop 1st – Social Interactions are Key 2cd – The Importance of being able to Age in Place 3rd – Every Village needs a Village House 4th – Elders are important to the urban Village 5th – Secondary and Coach Houses add to income and age diversity 6th – Getting Started, all that is needed is one person
SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY There is no universal way of measuring social sustainability. There is a reasonable description of social sustainability in Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sustainability) The town in Sutton, England has a good description of how social sustainability can be assessed and measured (http://www.sociallife. co/media/files/Sutton_Social_Sustainability_Nov14.pdf) . There are four basic social sustainability components.
The discussion leads us to focus on Social & Cultural Life as being the key element of a City Village. The first takeaway is that social interactions within the Village are the most important component of social sustainability. We discussed the viability of measuring social connections within the City Village. Both social interaction metadata and measuring interactions between people in the Village would give a good indication of that social sustainability indicator. Although not discussed, Voice & Influence would be a natural continuation of good social connections. The second takeaway was that “aging in place” and being able to live the rest of one’s years in the same neighbourhood where you had your adult life leads to the best health outcomes. This is especially true if you can remain socially connected and have an active role in your village.
PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE Amenities & Social Infrastructure and Adaptability & Resilience are parts of the physical infrastructure necessary to support the 2 other components of social sustainability. We discussed the character of the central building of the Village. The third takeaway was that this building could be described as the “Village House”. Its functions should include the following: • Be fully accessible • Space for social and other caregivers to be able to operate from, storage space, meeting space etc. • Neighbourhood kitchen • Space for some “homebased” business type of activity • Min 3 to a maximum of 7 residential units. • Small farming operation for year around • Most of the open area would have a community garden • There would be a 3-season ground floor terrace for meetings and gatherings
The fourth takeaway was that the “elders” of the village are an important resource. When they become an integral part of the activities in the community those that are healthy can help those that need help. In helping others their health outcomes are better in addition their chances at being able to stay at home till they die increase greatly. The types of activities that they could participate in the Village House include: • Village food preparation • If the kitchen can meet the requirements of a certified kitchen it could be an opportunity for people to test new food products and preparation techniques. • Social activities like music, chess, book clubs, etc. • Support activities relating to physical and mental health and hygiene • personal support such as “I have an interview; how should I prepare?” • Micro child and elder care facility run by people in the village • Support for “housing first” and other people with challenges • Allow elders in the village to move out of their home and into a supportive apartment if and when it becomes necessary
The fifth takeaway is that the addition of secondary units and coach houses to existing single-family dwellings would increase the diversity and density of the Village. The units could include the following features: • Be fully accessible • Be a studio or one or two-bedroom unit • Space for some “home-based” business type of activity • Some the open area on the lot could have a garden
These secondary units and coach houses would serve the following functions: • Allow an elderly couple to stay in their home and rent out the second unit to younger individuals • Have a garden on their property tended by the renter and the village residents • Allow the elderly couple to move into an accessible unit on their property and rent out their house to a younger family • Some the open area on the lot could have a garden • Increases the population density which has been decreasing
HOW TO GET STARTED Both the operators of “High Jinx” and “Live, Work, Play” have volunteers that work in their program and live in the “inner city residential neighbourhoods (those neighbourhoods developed in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The sixth takeaway is that some of these individuals may be interested in starting a Village House. City Villages and Planning by People have resources, both financial, planning and architectural that could support these people getting started. There was some discussion about philanthropic investors and/or property owners who might be interested in getting a Village started.