By Morgan Siem
Carrboro Commons Writer
As Kathy Buck explained, each cohousing community has someone known as a “burning soul.”
Buck and her husband, Ken Moore, are the burning souls for Eldergreen, a community they are planning based on the concept that residents will be older than 55 and want to live in a community atmosphere while consciously working against environmental degradation.
Buck, 61, and Moore, 67, are looking at Carrboro as a potential site for Eldergreen, where they plan on spending the rest of their lives.
“We’re building it to live in it,” Buck said. “This is not to make money, it’s for us to have a place to live.”
The vision statement of Eldergreen says, “We embrace living in harmony with the earth and a commitment to caring for one another to provide for aging in place as we move with meaning and joy through the second half of life.”
Buck envisions 20 to 30 living units comprising Eldergreen.
“What is out there for a senior?” Buck asked. The options are going to a nursing home or living on a golf course, a playground for seniors, she said. “What a boring life!”
There is a trend in the medical world toward aging in place. In this format, care is delivered to the individual at home.
“The negative is that you’re trapped alone in your house, and I want to talk about aging in community,” she said. “This is like trying to create an extended family.”
Furthermore, Buck and Moore want to create a community that will be environmentally friendly.
The guiding principles of Eldergreen say, “We wish to have a small footprint on the earth which will require living compactly in a place that is easily accessible to necessary services and resources without the dependence upon individual vehicles.”
Buck said that she imagines the project coming together in a place like Carrboro because she wants the residents to be able to walk, drive golf carts or take public transportation to spare the environment the damage caused by personal cars and trucks.
“The ideal place for our community would be right on top of Weaver Street [Market],” she said jokingly. “So we’d just have to go downstairs.”
Eldergreen will be different from the cohousing communities already in Carrboro because Eldergreen is specifically for seniors. Other than health care needs, seniors have different wants than young couples with children, Buck said.
“Cohousing communities that have people with children organize around the needs of the children,” she said. “Some older people don’t want to live with children.”
Furthermore, some cohousing communities not intended for older residents simply are not prepared to help an older resident who becomes disabled, Buck said. One man, who told Buck he may be interested in moving out of his cohousing community and into Eldergreen, said that his community no longer suits him in his retirement because he finds that there is no one to talk to during the day.
Buck plans for the project to be complete in the next five years. “While we’re still alive!” she said. But she also said she knows that factors beyond anyone’s control can often slow progress.
Now the group has eight core members and wants to expand its membership. The next meeting is Sun., April 13 at 3:30. Interested parties should contact Buck and Moore for more information at email@example.com or 919-967-5734.