By Kent Mulkey
What if one of your residents were stopped on the street by a stranger and asked two questions: “Do you like living at Warm Springs Gardens?” and “What are some of the things you like about it?” Note that these two questions are not asked on a canned survey, which will be read by management and tallied on a largely meaningless scorecard.
I put the two questions to a test. Sort of. I drive for Uber as a side hustle. Living in Boise affords me the opportunity to drive some great Boise State University students around town. (You may know Boise State by the blue football field.)
Here is what I heard from the two questions above, geared toward life at BSU. The first question was: Do you like going to Boise State? Absolutely every one of the 100 or so students who have ridden with me say, “YES”. My second question was: “What do you like about it?”
Here is a sampling of their responses: “I enjoy the program I am in and enjoy my professors”, (said from the mouths of college students?). “There is a cool vibe.” “There is a strong sense of community on campus. I have made friends for life.” “Lots to do on campus and around town.” (I am sure that includes bars). “Lots of choices and rent options in living on campus” (size of apartment, new or old town, meal options, etc.). “Our sports program makes me feel proud to go here.” “Easy transportation around campus and the town.” (The campus sits right in the middle of Boise, next to downtown, the Boise River trail, restaurants, Whole Foods, etc.). “Boise is a desirable place to live.”
Here are a few things I did NOT hear them talk about:
- “The meals in the dorms are ‘chef-prepared’.”
- The number of acres the campus sits on.
- Square feet of the common spaces.
- They have never, ever, seen an “activities” calendar.
- No one tells them when they must eat.
- That it is like a cruise ship on land.
Now, to tie these opposite populations together. Why do we open uncapped choices and opportunities to young people, yet begin to slowly take away choice and freedom when adults get older, especially when they move into a retirement community?
Urge your residents to take the initiative to live with more choices. Open up their choices and allow them to experience the “cool vibe” in your community. Let’s get more to live a life of freedom, like they were a college student all over again.