Sunday Extra: Lincoln Square needs a vision

Sunday Extra: Lincoln Square needs a vision

By ASHLEY BEITEL

Lincoln Square was unique in its day. What if it were unique once again? What if it were a setting for living, learning, giving, growing and connecting? What if it were a place where retirees and retiree-wannabees found stimulation, purpose and satisfying relationships? What if it were a space where you could act on that vision every day?

What if you could wake up in your no-mow, no-shovel, no-paint condo, stumble down stairs to coffee and sin-in-a-bun with friends, and then choose how to spend your day? Do you walk over to the fitness center to peddle off your bun before dropping in at the Start-Up Space to see what's cooking and give support for "starting-up-and-staying-sane"?

Then it's time for coffee and a light lunch with the kid you've mentored since grade school. It's bitter sweet because next year they'll be in college, which never would have happened without you. Across the way is a Make-It Lab where your mentee helped you learn how to program a virtual robot arm.

The middle school kid you are tutoring in math later that afternoon might find you early and pepper you with questions about your invisible robot. As tutoring wraps up, you remind him he's now prepared to be a grade school math tutor here starting next week. The Tutoring Academy will soon need more space, because tutoring is becoming quite the thing to do among Uni and Urbana High School students.

As you walk home, you pass the Entrepreneurial Center where one of your buddies provides weekly consultation to community folks eager to launch businesses. The cafe where you are having dinner serves as a cooking school and Baker's Lab during the day. Your dinner is timed so we can meet the shuttle for an evening at Krannert or the State Farm Center.

And the next day, you'll face some more hard decisions. Do you go to the Adobe Suite Lab, the metal shop or finish your woodworking project? Your afternoon is set, because you'll be consulting at the preschool for high-risk kids from Urbana. This center and the Senior Day Care Center serve as internship sites for local high school students.

What if Lincoln Square is where active seniors can find intellectual, cultural and artistic stimulation? Where their knowledge and talents are still available to the community. Where they develop satisfying connections.

How would it work financially? Would a developer take such a risk? Are there enough people who want a vibrant living, learning, giving community? Could it work as a cooperative? Could a condominium association assure that cafes, coffee bars and other shops would be financially viable? Would it attract nonresidential folks? Would the university, school districts and the city of Urbana want to buy in? Would it attract alumni? Would enough folks choose it over some southwestern retirement village?

Stanford and Dartmouth have stimulating residential offerings for seniors. Why not our town?

Ashley Beitel, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Champaign.