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07.21.22 | Sage Advice

Personal Statements and Manifestos

As we continue our Vibrant Living Programming, we also want to resume sharing rich content that compliments our spirited training, and this month’s theme is freedom. Along with independence and opportunity, freedom can mean many things to many people. Today, we’re exploring how independence inspires purpose, how personal manifestos can propel that purpose even further and how you can create one of your own. 

A personal manifesto performs as a declaration of what you truly want from life, which makes it the perfect tool for engaging personal independence. Traditionally, you might know manifestos as published statements declaring the intentions or beliefs of organizations, similar to our Vibrant Living Manifesto. However, manifestos are fluid and can be similarly used by individuals to act as both a statement of ethics and a call to action and are powerful in giving life meaning and direction.

Whether you’re in search of a guiding compass, a frame, a reminder of your priorities or simply inspiration, creating a personal manifesto is sure to provide your life with a foundation of additional meaning and direction. Learn how to write your own below: 

Begin your manifesto by writing down your values, beliefs, behaviors you apply to life and other areas you want to address. If you’re having trouble thinking of what to write, it might be easier to ask yourself questions about those themes. Remember, personal manifestos are exactly how they sound, personal, so yours is likely to be unique to itself. 

After creating your list, start to transform each point of interest into active, declarative statements; use powerful language, don’t worry about the length and remember to keep it uplifting and positive. When finished, make a copy and put it somewhere you will see every day; your manifesto could be the perfect tool for vibrant living, write and live it now!

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07.07.22 | Sage Advice

The Importance of Personal Freedom and Independence

Independence and freedom are critical for everyone, but the older we get, the more significant their effects can have on us. While being independent is understood universally as having freedom, for individuals – specifically adults – the word can have a much deeper meaning and impact. Today, we’re diving into just how independence benefits us all as we continue to age. 

There’s no question that with age comes a plethora of changes to our minds, bodies and surroundings, and independence is sometimes the only thing we feel we have control over. Maintaining that control over our independence is just one aspect of ensuring you are living vibrantly and comes with its own rich benefits. 

Elevates a Sense of Purpose

Because independence is such an empowering, enriching privilege, it’s extremely powerful in granting a sense of purpose to those who have it. The opportunity to create goals, large and small, in hopes of accomplishing them is one of the most significant reasons for this characteristic. Whether you’re aiding in the lives of your family, friends or community, or working on yourself, having the freedom to set objectives provides a powerful sense of purpose. 

Encourages Relationship Development 

It isn’t easy to keep up with the newest technology and cultural developments, especially as an older adult. Building and maintaining relationships that provide access to the right resources is crucial for personal independence. Whether you have a family that helps you stay in the loop by navigating you through the latest technology or a neighbor who checks in on you every few days, community and independence go hand in hand for empowering a vibrant life. 

Enables Individuality

While a sense of purpose and relationship building is essential, independence has a significant impact on how you feel as an individual. When the divisions in your life are left out of your control, it’s not hard to feel a loss of yourself and your freedoms, which is why it’s critical to maintain a vibrant lifestyle and your sense of self, no matter what environment you find yourself.

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02.10.22 | Sage Advice

5 Podcasts to Help You Start the Year off Great

With the new year comes a plethora of rich podcasts for audiences to dive into. As our Vibrant Learning Program with Chicago Commons continues to explore the affordances of modern technology, we wanted to share a few tips of our own. Last autumn, we spotlighted five of our favorite podcasts at the time, and today, we’re spotlighting five more that are sure to bring you joy and an excess of knowledge throughout the year:

Hidden Brain

Hidden Brains

Hidden Brains prides itself on being “a conversation about life’s unseen patterns”. Each week, the stimulating show explores deep questions that lay at the heart of the changing world to help listenings not only better understand their surroundings but also themselves. Episodes range from discussions on the psychology of self-doubt, working from home, difficulties of apologizing and everything in between. Archived episodes of the beloved podcast can be found on NPR, and new episodes can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more. 

Reply All 

For some of us, the internet is an unexplored world and for others, it’s a comforting tool. And while those audiences seem distant, Reply All provides a perfect place for everyone – novice or expert – to listen and learn. The tech podcast does an amazing job of exploring stories involving complex technologies in accessible ways, explaining what they are talking about as they go. Previous episodes have included investigating online scams to the best accounts you should follow on various social media platforms. You can listen to Reply All on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more.  

Grief Cast

While a podcast all about the process of grief might not sound fun, Grief Cast explores themes hard to find anywhere else in the podcast world. Cariad Lloyd, the podcast’s host, brings a new comedian guest to the show each week, which helps transform the discussion into a dark comedy at times. Wandering through discussions of grief, loss, and the “weirdness that happens when someone passes”, Grief Cast is a perfect podcast for anyone looking to feel a little better during a hard time. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more. 

How to Fail With Elizabeth Day

With so many podcasts filled with stories of success, it’s sometimes just nice to hear how some people’s failures led to a larger impact than their largest success. How to Fail With Elizabeth Day provides just that; Day shares her platform to interview a variety of guests on how their failures have shaped who they have become today. The inspiring, comforting and relatable podcast showcases just how when we think we’ve hit rock bottom, there is always a way up. You can find the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more. 

The Daily

Known as one of the most popular podcasts around, The Daily covers all you need to know about world news in less than 20 minutes. The New York Times produced podcast covers one in-depth news story each weekday. Michael Barbaro, journalist and the host of the show, provides listeners with the top story of the day paired with guests that include Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, other acclaimed journalists. The archived episodes are easy to explore for listeners, and there are many ways to listen, including on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Echo or simply from The New York Time’s Website.  

While podcasts may be an unknown area for many, the audio stories afford amazing resources, tools and manners of entertainment for both newcomers and natives alike. You can listen to each of the podcasts on their websites, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Google Podcasts. 

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12.28.21 | Sage Advice

2021: A Year in Review

2021 was a year of growth for Sage Collective, as we continued evolving and celebrating exciting milestones. Today, we’re reflecting on the past year and sharing our proudest achievements:

Breaking Ground on Our King Drive Properties

In 2020 we acquired our first two properties located in the Bronzeville community at 4108 and 4112 South King Drive. This year, we were proud to officially break ground on the project. In September 2021, Sage Collective’s Board of Directors and various members of our wonderful construction crew including, the General Contractor Shevaz Freeman, Owner’s Rep Ernest Brown and the Architect Gregory Williams, gathered to celebrate the event. In addition to the groundbreaking, we sat down with Board Member and VP for Legal & Development Dwain Kyles to learn more about the project and how it contributes to Sage’s vision for the future.  

Partnership With Chicago Commons

At the beginning of April, Sage Collective collaborated with Chicago Commons, a longstanding trailblazer of change in our community. The two-part live Q&A event addressed both facts and myths regarding the COVID-19 virus and vaccination that was new to everyone at the time. Rear Admiral (Ret) James M. Galloway, MD, FACP, FACC, who is one of the brilliant minds on our leadership team, helped answer a variety of questions and addressed the medical inequity in Black and Brown communities. Stay tuned for upcoming events with Chicago Commons in the new year.

Expanding our Vision

Following the launch of our website, blog and social media platforms in 2020, we have continued to share engaging material that enlightens audiences with our rich vision for the future. Along with elaborating on our 9 Vibrant Ways of Living, we were able to have meaningful conversations that amplified our work as we continue celebrating the historic community of Bronzeville. With the wealth of knowledge and experience from everyone on our team, we have broadened a collective understanding of older adult living, health and wellness that has led us to become changemakers in our community, where we are focused on creating innovative strategies for older adult programming, residences and lifestyles. 

We can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with you and see what 2022 brings!

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12.23.21 | Sage Advice

Best Winter Day Trips Close to Chicago

While Chicago brings a variety of enjoyable activities to partake in during the winter, sometimes a break from all the bustle and noise of the city is welcome. For our fellow Bronzeville residents who might need a getaway this winter, here are the best day trips you can take to brighten your perspective with a change in scenery:  

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Only a 1-½ hour drive away sits the quaint city of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The beloved destination has been a top destination for Chicago residents for generations and offers a variety of fun-filled activities and stops for all ages. While the summer months are Geneva’s most popular tourist times, winter brings a much tamer atmosphere. 

For lovers of the outdoors, Geneva’s Lake Shore trail is the perfect opportunity to enjoy spectacular views in the brisk air. Once February arrives, the famous lake becomes filled with extraordinary ice sculptures, bonfires on the beach and more. While it is the coldest season, don’t miss your chance to experience the incredibly warm community.  

Lake Geneva’s impressive ice sculptures

Michigan City, Indiana

An adorable city located just off of Lake Michigan’s shores, Michigan City should be high on everyone’s list to visit this winter. The town is only one hour away from Chicago and is surrounded by one of America’s most stunning national wonders, the Indiana Dunes State and National Parks. While winter isn’t typically the time of year many choose to visit the lakeside landscape, witnessing the sand-swept mounds covered in layers of soft snow is sure to delight all visitors.  

While many enjoy a stroll on one of the many trails found in the park, the town offers guests a variety of other ventures, including shopping at the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, dazzling architecture at Barker Mansion and an array of wineries and breweries. 

Take a Joyride up Lake Shore Drive 

Sometimes the best day trip is just hopping in the car and taking a drive to enjoy your surroundings, which is exactly what Lake Shore Drive delivers. Arguably the prettiest extended urban parkway in the nation, the 18-mile expressway runs from Ardmore Street on its north end to 71st Street on its south end, and lucky for Bronzeville residents, the best place to start the journey is from the south.  

The ride is filled with recognizable Chicago landmarks that include the Museum of Science and Industry, Soldier Field, Navy Pier and Lincoln Park alongside spectacular views of Lake Michigan. However, once you reach the end of the trip, don’t be afraid to stop there. Exiting on N Sheffield Road will take you through several alluring suburbs filled with even more attractions and impressive architecture. 

Whether you’re taking a thrilling trip to a neighboring state or simply enjoying a joyride down a historic street, we hope this inspires you to find your new favorite winter getaway from the city! 

The stunning view of Lake Michigan from the Indiana Dunes near Michigan City, Indiana
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11.16.21 | Sage Advice

The Magnitude of Mentorship as an Older Adult

While reflecting on the past, fortunate people will immediately recall someone who made a lasting impact on their lives. It may have been a coach, a teacher, a parent or a neighbor, but one throughline is shared by all:  the powerful and lasting influence of having a mentor. The process of mentoring and sharing guidance is a valuable and life-changing experience for mentees and can be just as significant for mentors. 

Intergenerational mentoring is a mutually beneficial way to provide both youth and older adults with new perspectives and opportunities for happier and healthier lives. For older adults, sharing life experiences and critical advice with young people can help dismantle generational barriers while fulfilling a sense of purpose many desire. 

We often think that loneliness and isolation are the exclusive domain of older adults, forgetting that young people experience these same emotions. With mentorship, the generations can come together to create a sense of belonging and stability. Youth who receive mentorship, specifically from older adults, have higher self-esteem, improved leadership and communication skills and often find themselves more willing to explore new ways to learn and grow. 

Among its many benefits, mentoring is a great way to diminish ageism and educate younger people about the aging process, expanding their empathy and strengthening their understanding of what others are experiencing. While mentees benefit from improved self-awareness, respect for their elders and other insightful perspectives, mentors gain invaluable knowledge themselves, creating a dynamic, elastic system for communities to thrive together. 

Anyone can be a mentor. The process is uniquely flexible and can be as easy as offering advice and creating a safe space for younger family or community members to visit if they ever need assistance or support. For those who prefer more structure, there are numerous mentorship programs in Bronzeville and around Chicago that anyone can join.

AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparents Program, offered through the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, allows volunteers age 55 and up to care for and guide Chicago’s youth, enriching the lives of everyone involved. The program actively serves 3,500 Illinois children and provides everything from educational support to essential care some may need. To learn more about their program and how to become involved, visit their website here

Mentorship is a critical asset to youth, older adults and communities that shapes positive outcomes in all directions. For older adults aspiring to empower others and share their essential voices, mentoring is the opportunity you’ve been seeking.

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11.04.21 | Sage Advice

Practicing Empathy: How it Can Create a More Vibrant World

Empathy is a universal tool for understanding. By definition, it’s a way of emotionally recognizing and validating what someone else is feeling. At Sage Collective, we approach all of our work with empathy, and believe that with practice, exhibiting empathy improves communication, heightens creativity and enhances appreciation.

What the Science Says

Empathy has always been an essential skill for communication and understanding. However, it’s more important now than ever, in light of the enormous levels of stress many confront today. Displaying empathy serves as an antidote for burnout and anxiety — producing beneficial effects on wellbeing and supporting positive social interactions for individuals and groups alike.

According to a recent study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, empathy in older adults may play a sizable role in shaping the regularity and types of support they exchange within social networks and the ramifications associated with the exchanges. The study concludes that empathetic older adults grant emotional and instrumental support more often than older adults who display less empathy. Furthermore, those who are more empathetic enjoy greater levels of emotional comfort from their networks and uphold more positive moods throughout the day, producing significant exchanges of care and more powerful controls over temperament. 

Practicing Empathy

Because empathy is a crucial element for collective support, everyone can benefit from improving their skills, whether practicing empathy comes naturally or must be learned. However, with time, an empathetic approach to all situations becomes instinctive. Here are three kinds of empathy that a person may encounter and should strive to understand:

Cognitive empathy consists of putting yourself in someone else’s situation to try and
comprehend what they might be going through at that moment. Even if it involves
something unfamiliar, the effort of understanding can transform anyone’s perspective. 

Somatic empathy requires the ability to experience someone else’s feelings. It usually
includes physical reactions to situations like feeling sick, sweating or blushing.

Active listening is a large part of being empathetic, but taking action and giving appropriate feedback takes the skill a step further. Affective empathy entails understanding the emotion someone else is feeling and answering accordingly. The awareness establishes personal connections and leads to a more profound concern for others’ feelings. 

As more and more people recognize the power of using empathetic techniques, a mutual understanding and compassion will blossom, empowering our communities to become more vibrant and rich in emotional support.

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10.26.21 | Sage Advice

Revolutionizing Bronzeville and the Construction World: A Conversation with Shevaz Freeman

As renovations continue at our 4108 and 4112 S King Drive properties located in the heart of Bronzeville, we sat down with the owner of Urban Intention Design and Build and general contractor for our project, Shevaz Freeman, to discuss her experiences in the world of construction and the progress of the projects. 

Urban Intention Design and Build is a Black woman-owned-and-operated company, which is rare in the general contractor domain. Tell us about your experience in the industry, and what has led you to where you are today. 

Running my own contracting company, Urban Intention Design and Build, as an African American woman absolutely comes with its struggles, but every experience I’ve had — good and bad — has led me to where I am today. Simple things like respect and recognition can be difficult to attain at times, and because of my gender, I have to maneuver within the environment with a whole different perspective. However, because of my significant experience in the field, I’ve discovered how best to navigate challenges I may encounter to my advantage. 

I’ve picked up numerous techniques and approaches that give me a leg up because I feel like I’ve had to work harder than a lot of other people in my field to get where I am. I’ve trained myself to have heightened attention to detail. Sometimes, contractors don’t have the “big picture” in mind and don’t fully pay attention to the endless little things happening on a project. Because I’ve been doing this for over ten years, I find it extremely easy to fully envision the outcome of every project from day one, which is a significant skill in contracting.

What does your role as General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive project involve? 

As the General Contractor for the King Drive projects, it’s my job to oversee and run almost everything. I am responsible for managing budgets, directing on-site subcontractors and conducting meetings with the Sage Collective Properties’ team. However, at the end of the day, my most important job is to make sure that the client gets what they envisioned at the beginning of the process. 

Who are the others who are involved in the renovation of these King Drive buildings, and how does your role fit in? How do you view the nature and value of the relationships you have been able to build with other professionals on this job?

Throughout the renovation, numerous people will walk in and out of the properties. Two people I’ve worked very closely with over the past few months are the Owner’s Rep and experienced General Contractor, Ernest Brown, and the Architect, Gregory Williams. Mr. Brown has provided me with incredible guidance and oversight throughout the project, and his rich expertise in the field has been remarkably beneficial and essential to our process. 

Overall, I’ve unquestionably developed relationships on this job that I believe will continue to provide immense value in the future. It’s so important in jobs like this that each party involved feels like they are valued as part of a larger team, and that is a feeling that is certainly present here. No matter who I am talking to daily, everyone understands that their role is essential for the project’s success.

Explain to us how you see Sage Collective’s vision of having “vibrant, high-quality, affordable living for older adults” come to life in the residences you are currently helping them rehab?

I originally went to school for interior design, so because of that training and the fact that I’m such a visual person, I’ve been able to envision Sage Collective’s concept since the project’s very early stages. As soon as I was introduced to the vision for “vibrant, high-quality, affordable living” and walked through the properties, there was no question that it was achievable, and day by day, I’m witness to its progress. 

Since we strive to make sure that every element is constructed with thought and care, the process behind bringing the vision to life is very meticulous. We discuss everything from the sizing of doors to the proportion of the showers to the type of lighting assembled in each room to make sure we specifically address the needs of older adults. All details throughout the process are constantly brought into question to ensure perfection. 

Do you think that there is enough emphasis by the government or social service organizations on meeting the need for affordable housing in this community? If so, please give other examples. If not, why not?

The need for affordable housing, especially in neighborhoods like Bronzeville, has been ignored by the government for the longest time. However, I think more and more organizations are finally stepping up, and we are moving in the right direction. One of the initiatives putting money into communities like Bronzeville that have essentially been ignored by the city for years is Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West.

The wonderful thing is that the initiative has encouraged even more developers to invest in affordable housing construction like the upcoming 43 Green projects. Having been born and raised on the south side, seeing the amount of interest currently being poured into the communities holds a special place in my heart. But with that said, the progress is long overdue, and there is still a long way to go until affordable housing needs are met. 

How does your perspective as a contractor inform your view of the future of the availability of affordable housing in Chicago?

In 2021 material costs for almost all aspects of home building and renovation skyrocketed, and they continue to go up. The shift over the past year also means that low-income families aren’t making the extra money they need to afford market-rate housing, making affordable housing even more in demand than ever before. Generally, historic properties like Sage Collective Properties’ buildings in the Bronzeville community are selling for very high prices. Some have been renovated, but others have either been abandoned for years or have not been preserved due to the high expenses that come with the process. 

With time, everything deteriorates. So, without any help, it’s hard to keep these properties affordable for residents. The sad reality is that without continued help from the city, state or federal government — and investments from organizations like Sage Collective Properties  —  it’s going to be hard to keep developing affordable housing in these neighborhoods. 

Have there been unexpected or unique issues that you’ve been challenged with on this project?

The King Drive properties are mature buildings in a very historic area that have been neglected for a long time, so of course, there have been surprises that we’ve come across throughout the renovation. We’re discovering issues now that I’m sure didn’t even cross the mind of the previous owners because development is so different now than it was back when these buildings were built. One specific uncovering was the deterioration in some of the exterior bricks. We found small trees, weeds and other plants vibrantly growing in the actual spaces between the bricks, so we’ve had to uproot all of those. 

The one thing I will say is that it is a solid building and has very healthy bones. So, we can still put it back together with ease. Overall, I’m just so happy to see the phenomenal progress we’ve made so far and can’t wait to see the finished product. I’m also very appreciative that Sage has allowed me the opportunity to work on this project and be able to help them create something so wonderful, especially since I’m in my own community doing it!

Shevaz Freeman, General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive Projects & Owner of Urban Intention Design and Build
Shevaz Freeman, General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive Projects & Owner of Urban Intention Design and Build
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10.05.21 | Sage Advice

How to Become an Active Participant in Your Life

For many older adults, feeling like they’re losing control of their lives is all too common. While this can be a normal reaction to aging, it can also leave people feeling overwhelmed when confronted with the stigma of getting older. Actively participating in your life is a powerful way to combat these feelings and stigmas, leading to a more vibrant life. So, how can you learn to become an active participant in your life? Let’s take a look. 

Set Intentions

First, set goals to transition from a passive participant to an active participant in life. It can be challenging to reflect on what aspects of life might be obstructing your progress, but it’s imperative for regaining control. Your intentions and goals act as a foundation for the rest of the process for becoming active participants. So, honesty with yourself is essential.

To keep yourself motivated and engaged, write down each of your intentions and keep them in a place you will regularly see. Remember, each person’s intentions are unique to their own personal experience and goals. 

Regain Control

Adjusting your thought process to become less passive can be challenging, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. By believing in yourself and your words, you regain control and take power away from negative thoughts.

Again, writing down your thoughts is an effective resource for change. Make a list of words that come to mind that diminish your power, confidence or ability. Once you have a few written down, modify the language to become active and uplifting. The next time you feel control shrinking, revisit the list and remind yourself that you have the power to enact change in any way.

Implement

It’s easier to enact change once you set intentions and understand that you can control involuntary thoughts. If wanting to go back to school is on your list, enroll in your first class. If eating more nutritious meals is your goal, start researching recipes with healthier foods. At first, taking steps to live actively may feel uncomfortable and daunting, but remember that years of passive living are being dismantled. 

While being an active participant in life is the ultimate goal, it’s important to be kind to yourself on the journey. Even if your path changes, the experiences and tools you learned along the way are something of which you can  be proud.

At Sage Collective, we believe actively participating in your life is an aspect of vibrant living that helps find purpose, shepherd confidence, and inspires goals for older adults. It’s never too late to become active participants in our lives.

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09.30.21 | Sage Advice

The Importance of Checking In

It’s easy to assume that someone may be happy just from the smile on their face. However, behind closed doors, many people are dealing with heightened feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression. At Sage Collective, we believe that connection, engagement and shared relationships are vital to our health and well-being, as well as that of many other folks in our community. Checking in on friends, family and neighbors can be an effective way of looking out for one another and fostering those connections.  

Checking in on someone you haven’t seen in a while, who works remotely or who recently lost a loved one is a powerful gift. The simplest way of checking in is just asking how someone is doing. Reaching out can be done in person, through text, email or phone, and these small efforts can go a long way to show support and invite them to share more with you.

Words are meaningful, but in many circumstances, actions can be even more powerful. Delivering meals is a thoughtful way of checking in during difficult times or extending a hand to those who may have trouble accessing healthy foods. Whether it’s some of your own leftovers or cookies you’ve baked, your thoughtfulness will bring joy and comfort. Offering a form of mutual aid, a topic we talk more about here, is another inspirational way to foster engagement and check in on neighbors, since we know that extending aid to others by sharing knowledge and skills is a great way to develop ‘care webs’ — an element of mutual aid — in the community.

It’s essential that while checking in on those around you, you do not forget about yourself. It can be dangerous to ignore your physical and mental health while helping others. Valuable practices to utilize for checking in on yourself include asking yourself how you are feeling, meditating and taking advantage of other mindful habits that benefit your health and happiness.

Cropped shot of a cheerful elderly woman hugging her husband who's in a wheelchair at home during the day
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