Marian Knapp has added to last month’s Newton Tab column with an article in this week’s edition. It’s called “My vision for a new senior center.” It is not yet available on line, so I am writing this to encourage people to dig their copy out of the snowbank and/or to read a few pertinent quotes here. No one can question Knapp’s commitment, experience, and knowledge of this field. That she is offering her thoughts from the outside of the NewCAL planning process suggests that much is missing within that process.
Newton residents ages 50 to 100-plus are about 40% of our population. Within that 50-year span, there are multiple generations with different experiences, expectations, wishes and needs. Acknowledging this broad scale unveils a special opportunity to consider what senior intergenerational means from younger old to older old.
This leads me to my vision of what our new senior center could be. It is an innovative magnet for people in the various generations within the 50-100+ range and is proudly promoted as such. It purposely keeps people part of a community–day and night. It is centrally located so that people from Ward 1 to Ward 8 know where it is and how to get there. There is housing for seniors; residents take a class together and then go to dinner. It is accessible by public transportation. It is in a vibrant village . . . .
We must think hard, work hard, and get it right. But it won’t be right until we rethink aging and build for a new paradigm.
There is a winning formula here for Mayor Fuller and her administration if they would just take a breath and listen. There is a road to success, as Knapp describes it, “a beautiful building that proudly says we respect and value seniors, and [is] not afraid to show it.” There remains a chance for unity of purpose, government, and community if our political leadership is open to that possibility rather than the narrow path they’ve chosen to date.