Private homes are public places. There is no doubt. Yet many of them are not designed for inhabitants or visitors of different ages and abilities. How many of you have friends or family members who are in a wheel chair or need some other assisted mobility device? Impaired mobility is not the only disability but it is the most visible one and the one most apparent in how buildings accomodate for it. The deficiency in the accessibility of private homes is becoming more and more apparent with an aging population and a wider range of abilities and needs at every age.
At the recent Age and Disability San Francisco Work Group Meeting we got a taste what community effort can bring about and how somebody’s home becomes the community nexus in a neighborhood with no community center or library. Glenda Hope, former pastor, age 78 has not retired but has become a community organizor in the Cayuga Neighborhood of San Francisco. She organized her neighborhood in clusters with neighbors helping neighbors and with a private home as the community center for each cluster. What a great, intuitive grass roots initiative, elders as community organizors. What a great incentive for rethinking the private home and its function beyond being just a private shelter. It is time to think beyond our own, current, immediate needs and design homes that can serves us and our friends and community in an inclusive way.