‘Pocket Neighborhoods’: Weaving a Community Together

Last week, I introduced Dr. Bill Thomas’ Minka house concept that became part of his larger vision of creating communities comprised of smaller “pocket neighborhoods.” This week, I want to explore how pocket neighborhoods differ from standard living options. What are the upsides and downsides? And are pocket neighborhoods an answer for Baby Boomers who want to right size their homes for their best Third Chapter lives?

MAGIC Adaptability Is Key

The pocket neighborhoods of Thomas’ Kallimos Communities — the first few are in various stages of development in Colorado, Texas, and Pennsylvania — include neighborhoods of small homes ranging from studios to two bedrooms. While different than the ADU- or tiny home-like Minka predecessors, Kallimos homes include similar modular construction and features — such as design and technology geared toward making the homes aging ready. The homes are rented, not owned, but the modular build means that each renter can choose the layout, etc., they desire for their home.

In Thomas’ vision, up to 50 units comprise a pocket neighborhood, and three or more neighborhoods equal a Kallimos Community. Each neighborhood includes such amenities as gardens, nature paths, a greenhouse, and a multi-generational playground: Yes, the Kallimos Communities are intended to be multi-generational, using the Minka concept of MAGIC: Multi-Ability/multi-Generational, Inclusive Communities.

Each pocket neighborhood also has a Commons that includes both indoor and outdoor spaces for community activities and dining. Depending on the size of the community, development might also include pools, spa areas, beauty shops, a leasing office, or other stores.

Innovative Staffing

Normal leadership duties in the communities will be fulfilled by a community director  and a maintenance leader, but here’s where the similarities to “big-box” senior communities end. Kallimos also will employ “weavers” and “keepers.” Weavers help build connections among residents and support residents’ wellness and lifestyle goals. Keepers manage and maintain indoor and outdoor common areas, but their responsibilities might also include gardening and cooking.

The goal is to have diverse residents living together in a more communal lifestyle, yet still retaining their privacy and independence, and without the strict regulations that can make “outside-the-box” thinking difficult in many senior living and continuing care communities. To emphasize that point, the communities will have a self-governance component: community councils made up of residents will drive decision-making.

Most of the homes will be priced at a middle-income level, making them much more affordable than many senior communities. Kallimos also is partnering with housing authorities in order to develop low-income options.

 What About Continuing Care Needs?

Part of the vision behind the pocket neighborhoods is that home health and private-duty home care services could be provided via partnerships between Kallimos and local providers. Those partnerships would include all providers to be trained in the Kallimos values of inclusivity. Providers will work with the weavers, keepers, and community directors to coordinate services for residents.

According to Senior Housing News, people with memory care needs might be able to reside in the pocket neighborhoods of Kallimos. Dr. G. Allen Power — an internist, geriatrician, and clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Rochester — is on Kallimos’ board, and is spearheading the development of an approach that would include such residents.

Multi-Generational Is A Win-Win

Many older adults — indeed, many adults of all ages — want to live in diverse neighborhoods comprised of people of all ages and walks of life. Indeed, Generations United recently released a report showing that multigenerational living has almost quadrupled in the past 10 years. Additionally, a 19-year-old’s TikTok videos about living in an apartment complex for older adults took the internet by storm recently. Although she accidentally moved into the complex, she has stayed, and likes living there. 

The idea of MAGIC pocket neighborhoods within larger communities not only might enable Baby Boomers to age at home, but they also can reduce the feelings of isolation that can affect mental and physical health.

As Thomas told Senior Housing News, “Older people pretty much want what everyone else wants: to belong to a community that includes people of all ages, and remain connected to the living world.” Too bad this is so hard for so many to realize.

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Check out our website to learn more about our work on aging-in-place options. The author, Reese Fayde, is a dedicated problem solver and skills development coach. She’s passionate about working with change-makers — individuals committed to transforming the status quo, whether it’s in their industry, community, or organization.

1 Comments

  1. Jim Stockard on December 12, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    Reese– I’m so glad you are giving his concept some publicity. The first time we heard of it was when the architect of our house in Whidbey wrote a book about the concept. He had designed several “pocket neighborhood” developments, including at least one of Whidbey in the nearby town of Langley. His book is titled “Pocket Neighborhoods” and was published in 2011. It has lots of examples of these kinds of “communities” from around the country. There is even a picture of the Common Place back yard from a time when he visited us before designing the cottage. Good resource for your readers.

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