Scroll down to read a brief personal statement from each of the Committee members describing why they want to be a part of Agency Cohousing and Community.
Louise Silburn (President)
I want to be able to steer Agency Cohousing and Community towards eventually developing a cohousing project in the Balmain area in which I can live. I am also very keen to continue developing the Agency Hub which has been successful in bringing together a lovely group of people who are gradually getting to know each other much better as a result of meeting at some of our different activities. I am a self-employed management consultant and coach, working in predominantly the public sector infrastructure environment. However, I have a background as a health policy manager and experience of working in not-for-profit organisations and government.
As an experienced facilitator I aim to support agency cohousing and community by facilitating group processes, structuring strategy documents and generally being an enthusiastic contributor to the work we do.
David (Dizzy) Scandol
I am honoured to be a member of Agency Cohousing and Community. I believe we have assembled a group that is passionate, effective and qualified to create a vision for the future that will make Australian society a better place to grow old in. As an orphan I have not had to deal with ageing parents, but I have watched my step-mothers, aunts and contemporary’s parents, with a certain ‘apprehension’. I think my biggest concerns are around becoming a burden to my family (I don’t want them to feel like visiting me is a chore). I also want to maintain the highest possible lifestyle in terms of intellectual stimulation, community connection and physical lifestyle (food, activity etc).
My vision is to move into somewhere that I would like to go when I am 70 as opposed to being forced into when I am 80. I want to be with my friends and in my local community. The chance of my children and grandchildren living close to me are slim, so I need to be as independent of them as possible. I want activities to keep me engaged, fit and entertained. However, I also realise that one day, I will need physical, mental and social support close by. Support for maintenance of my home, support for IT or whatever new technologies that will be part of our lives in the 2030s. Emotional support that is not necessarily provided by my family. Physical support in the form of being wheelchair friendly, design-sensitive to the challenges of dementia, supportive of transport needs if required and so on.
I’m an architect with a longstanding interest and over 15 years experience in designing buildings, spaces and places that support ageing well. After many years visiting, studying, designing and writing about environments for older people, I am committed to and advocate for creating better places to grow old in.
My main reason for being on the committee is to use my experience, knowledge and skills to make a co-housing project happen. I have seen it in operation overseas and have spoken to people involved and believe it can be done – and once done, it can be replicated to provide another and in many ways, better, alternative to traditional accommodation for older people. So there is also a legacy aspect. I want to create the sort of environment that I would like to grow old in and I want to live there too of course – if they’ll have me!
I have been interested in Cohousing in general and Senior Cohousing in particular since 2017. I believe that cohousing can be a viable and life-affirming alternative to retirement villages, care homes and living alone as people age. I also believe senior cohousing can benefit both individuals and the wider community, including governments at every level.
I would personally like to live in a small-ish mixed generation community (15 to 30 dwellings) that is based on a set of agreed principles, for both infrastructure and day-to-day living. I would also like to be involved in the set-up work to make this happen – both project-specific and more generally.
Margot Woods (Peninsula Village Hub Co-ordinator)
Working as a general practitioner for many years has given me the privilege of being involved in many people’s lives on a close and intimate level. From birth to death, I have seen those on the journey succeed and other times struggle to find the right path. I have learnt from my patients that ageing can be a time of joy and fulfillment but also a time of loneliness, loss of purpose and loss of connection. I believe that we can all learn from each other and the collective knowledge can help us all make the journey a better one. I have seen some not get to old age and they especially, have made me feel ageing is a privilege and it should be embraced and done as well as possible. Raising children who I can honestly say, make me proud each day makes me feel I am leaving a legacy. I hope that my children want to see me when I’m old but I do not feel it’s their responsibility to look after me and certainly I have no right to make them feel obligated. I want them to explore and grow as much as possible and I’d love to watch this happen, not hold them back or burden them.
Joining Agency Cohousing and Community the way I see to fulfil the dream of ageing well, with dignity, comfort, connectedness and value leaving a way forward to be improved by those who follow. I want to embrace aging as another stage of life-with its joys and challenges just like all the other stages.
I see Agency Cohousing and Community as being akin to the creation of a sort of ‘club’ of like-minded people at a similar stage of life, planning now for life at the next stage. In addition, I see the project as an ‘insurance policy’ of sorts. Who knows how circumstances will change over the next 10-15 years? But if I am in the Balmain area, all other things being equal, I like the idea of a ‘post work’, consciously developed, sharing oriented local community in which to live as long as it is feasible. So I am glad to participate in a group to work on this.
I think it is important to contribute to social change if you think things can improve. I see the difficulties of the current aged care system and don’t wish to see myself in one of the facilities currently on offer. I believe it is time to rethink the way aged care is managed and we may well be able to create something that is very beneficial to us, and to others to come.
My wife Joan and I are retired academics in our mid-late 70s. We first encountered cohousing at a meeting in 2017 convened by the then Agency Project, where 60 or so mostly Balmain locals energetically debated ideas around the ideals of a cohousing community. We discovered that a cohousing community was not a ‘commune’ but was a residential arrangement with shared common spaces (a common dining room for regular meals together, a communal garden) but with private living spaces. The cohousing community was an ‘intentional community’ and in this case intentionally dedicated to creating a supportive framework for each resident to age safely and with dignity and ‘agency’ that is with a sense of autonomy and control over their life choices. I have joined the current cohousing steering committee to learn more and help where I can to progress the aims of Agency Cohousing and Community.
I’ve been interested in co-housing communities for over 30 years (although I called them by a different name). I was very happy to hear of Agency Cohousing and Community since it fitted well with a number of my ideals. As I transition to my retirement, belonging to a community is very important to me in order to have a happy and productive senior part of my life. Living in a co-housing project is attractive to me as the ultimate in community living.
After an interesting academic career that was funded by the community/government, I now wish to give back to the community via volunteering and other charitable activities. Agency Cohousing and Community is an important venture that I feel is worth spending a lot of time and effort supporting.