Urban Villagers Mull Priorities

Larry Schofer, Weavers Way Education Committee
Participants at the Northwest Village Network planning session used blue dots to “vote” for their priorities.

Local control is a mantra for many of our neighborhood organizations. At a meeting in September, Northwest Village Network applied this approach to assess its own organization.

NVN is a volunteer-run “urban village” dedicated to helping seniors live independently at home as long as possible. A key element involves participation — in NVN and in the community.

The meeting, attended by about 35 NVN members, began with participants gathering in small groups to brainstorm what specific paths should be pursued in the near future. Each group was asked to list five priority areas. Then everyone met in plenary session, with priorities listed as each small group reported. Finally, members were given a set of blue dots, and facilitator Anne Javsicas asked participants to place their allocated dots on the priority lists. Voting was “weighted,” with voters able to assign multiple dots to a given priority. Interactions were lively as voters weighed their options and consulted with each other.

“Companionship/social interaction” and “Dealing with financial issues, both long-term and on an emergency basis” proved to be the most frequently selected areas. Other popular priorities included informal get-togethers, volunteer transportation and assessment of housing for continued living at home.

NVN has a number of active committees and presents a range of programs at least once a month. In addition, there are coffee hours and interest groups such as movie discussions, a book group, handicrafts sessions and trips to art museums. These meet on a regular basis, sometimes weekly, some less frequently.

NVN has also sponsored a number of programs in conjunction with Weavers Way, My Way and the Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill. The current president is longtime Mt. Airy resident Faye Ross. For more information, visit www.northwestvillagenetwork.org.