ORIGINS OF SAND RIVER
The seed idea for ElderGrace, now known as Sand River, was to create a residential community or sangha for elders interested in Buddhist contemplative practice and mindful living. The founders were Geoffrey Landis, who was also founder of the Santa Fe Vipassanā Sangha, and Stefan Dobuszynski, a psychotherapist, meditator and social activist. They named the visioning group “Jubilados,” meaning “those who are joyous.”
Jubilados envisioned an affordable, rent-based community in Santa Fe for 120 people, two-thirds of whom would be over the age of 60. They recognized that, for many people, a life built around a spiritual core takes on added value with age. Jubilados created nationwide symposiums, based on the theme of conscious aging, as well as a non-residential community of elders who met regularly to engage in spiritual practice, yoga, discussions about their own aging and its meaning, and community service.
EMERGENCE OF ELDERGRACE
ElderGrace's founding members, who carried forward the Jubilados vision, were Niels Borch and Eleanor Breslin. They and other early members approached The Santa Fe Community Housing Trust to ask their support in developing an affordable cohousing community for elders. The Trust agreed to partner with the group in developing the project on a Santa Fe site which they provided. Their decision to sponsor the project was instrumental in making ElderGrace Cohousing an affordable housing community.
Those creating the vision and designing the community were Eleanor Breslin and Niels Borch, Corrine and Jim Plewa, Ann Anthony, Sandy King, Jim Hannan, Eleonor Hellman and Bruce Blossman, Rose Driscoll and Sandra Corso, Nancy Rose, Craig Stamm, Vera Hilsenrath, Marty Carroll, Jan Daugherty, and Willow Murphy. Many others joined between 2006 and the move-in date in of October 2009 to add their energy to the process of bringing the vision into reality.
This early group envisioned a diverse collective of elders, living in a community focused on conscious aging and working together to create a harmonious atmosphere, structures, policies, and relationships by means of commonly held spiritual principles. This would be an exploration in learning to live and work together in relative peace, cooperation, and play—a refreshing alternative to the often isolating and unhealthy later-in-life options of many elders.
Common values make it possible to find common ground. These fundamental values are summarized as:
With thanks to Rose Driscoll for concept and to Willow Murphy for the written history of the community's beginnings.
The Santa Fe Community Housing Trust is a non-profit community development organization that assists residents of northern New Mexico in gaining access to affordable housing.