31 August 2009

Reader email defending their chosen lifestyle

Mr. Blechman,

You are to be commended for tackling a tough subject in a thorough and responsible manner. Your book was a good read, filled with interesting perspectives.

I might suggest you consider a sequel to Leisureville and visit our community, Sun City Hilton Head. While the last chapter in your book covers all the arguments we've heard against active adult communities, you did not capture what we are experiencing. We have a high percentage of volunteerism inside and outside our gates; a strong security system that affords residents' their privacy and safety; exposure to cultural activities in nearby Savannah, Hilton Head and Bluffton. We are an ethnically mixed community. Most of us recognize our families experience busy lifestyles and we must establish our own in a new setting. Most of us take an active interest in the realities of the outside world. Hundreds of us volunteer in nearby schools, interact with children there, take part in our respective religious institutions outside our gates, go to Chamber of Commerce meetings to hear speakers about local development, and business opportunities. We're actively participating in our nearby community, yet socializing mostly with those with whom we have commonalities. Many of us are active in the community's governance, serving on committees and encouraging volunteerism.

We have deep discussions about the topics you touch upon. Most of us here have never been happier in our whole lives and for the first time since our busy professional days, we have the time and inclination to enjoy nature, appreciate different perspectives, explore new interests and avail ourselves of wonderful educational opportunities at our nearby University. We really love it here.

Just as an aside, our son is a sociologist and harbored your sentiments when he first heard of our plans to move here. We said it's a "gated community." His response: "Oh good grief, you know that's code for ethnic exclusion." He visited and learned he was wrong. Although, like you, he can't fathom a community sans children and calls it "unreal" like a college campus or an enclave outside the real world, he admits now that he is happy to see us in an environment where we are so happy and busy. All our children seem pleased this community offers a support system and genuine neighborly interest.

I wanted to share my thoughts with you and I hope you will explore Leisureville concerns further and particularly in this incredible community we call Paradise..

Ellie (and Bob) Dixon
Sun City Hilton Head, SC

CNN: Market seemingly improving for Age-Segregated Communities

25 August 2009

Interesting Reader Email about School Funding

Dear Mr. Blechman,

I just finished reading your book, Leisureville. I am a sixty seven year old retiree who lives in Natick, MA and my wife and I have a small condo in an " age qualified" older gated community in Fort Myers, Florida. I absolutely loved your book. I think it is the best book I have read in a long ,long time. You are a great writer, and you certainly know how to capture attention. Fortunately, my condo complex in Fort Myers and the people there are nothing like the Villages and their residents.

One story I would like to relate to you is as follows. I am a twenty five year elected town meeting representative in the town of Natick, and I remember a few years back we were discussing at Town Meeting whether we should support an override to build a new middle school in town. The town seemed to be divided between the older residents, and the young parents in town.

The older residents were resisting the school override, and the young parents were trying to get support for the schools. On the night of the vote, the young parents showed up in droves, but unfortunately many of them were not elected town meeting members, so they couldn't vote that night. When the discussion, and the vote looked like it would go against the young parents, I got up and told the story that many years ago, when I was a young parent and a town meeting rep, the town was closing schools everywhere in town, and trying to cut the school budget at town meeting in all ways possible, I had made a speech urging the older town meeting reps to help us young parents, and they did. Then I said that now, twenty five years later, I found myself in a new position. Now, I was the older town meeting rep being asked to support the schools. The premise of my argument that night was that one generation must support the next generation, just as I, and other parents, were helped by town meeting twenty five years prior. I told the town meeting that it was our obligation to support the schools, just as you said in your book. I am happy to report that the schools did get the support that night.


Nick DiMasi

05 August 2009

Leisureville interview on WBUR (Boston Public Radio)

Scroll down to "Behind the Gates of a Retirement Community" and then hit the "listen" tab. Enjoy.