Mamma Mia is a good way to describe Project 851. It refers to the love one has for a Mamma as in "my mother", which is the literal Italian translation. However, l hope you agree to take that saying to the level "Mamma Mia! That's a spicy meatball!!" which adds a whole different flavour to its meaning. Gotta love those expressions that denote such joyous, fearful, and surprising emotions. Ah, the magic of two words.
... how apt Mamma Mia is for the Big House and Octopus, not only because of the connection to my Mom, but the the entire adventure it's become (and I'm sure will continue to be). Pick the intonation of your choice when thinking Mamma Mia, and run with it.
Whether your imagination takes you to images of love and affection or running for the hills with your hair on fire, try applying that visual to the idea of aging in place.
When I look around Strathcona I see a good community in which to be born, learn the basics, grow, transform and age. Aging in place is supposed to be somewhere you have the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level. Achieving this, realistically, needs to be planned for, independently, as a community, through organizations and with the help of city and political powers. Living in a rich diverse community is what I want in my life.
Growing up and/or old, along with art, wrapped in a bow of extended love for family and friends is at the root of how this project began and is evolving.
I knew, after living in Strathcona for many years, that this was the community where I wanted to stay and my mother was getting older -- she was still under 80 when we bought the Big House in 2014. We had been business partners, friends and obviously family (mother/daughter team) for many years, like 30 some, so to buy 851 Union St when it came up for sale was, for us, kind of a no brainer.
We had had many conversations about getting older and where Mom wanted to live and near whom and what that looked like etc.. She was pretty clear that an Old Age Home was not something she wanted to experience. Admittedly, not quite a spring chicken myself, these conversations made me think about how I wanted to live as I aged. My friends and I have laughed and chatted about planning to share services we'd require like a driver, chef, bartender and the like.
Never having children didn't rule them out of the picture for my future as I've always liked them. Those little and younger beings, have always intrigued me so being surrounded by them was a good thing. It's delightful spending time with younger people not because they're well behaved, although that is a nice bonus, but for their minds . Conversations about how they see the world has always been of interest to me.
So with all these ideas in the air the plans unfolded for Project 851...
Our solution to creating such a village on a double lot in the city was to go with renovating and building homes that made aging in place easy to obtain. This would be a different kind of Felini-ville. The Big House will have a garden suite accessible from the street level and full upstairs suite where "Spicy Meatballs" will be central to my lifestyle. The Octopus will be a contemporary structure with a 3 bedroom unit and a 2 bedroom unit and a artist studio where, fingers crossed, creativity will flow. Ideas became more grounded, one could say, on the road to rock solid.
So where do we stand at this moment? We've broken ground and on the road to creating a special place for and about Mamma Mia. Until, ideas and dreams become reality the "to be" garden suite is now a kind of new/old indoor/outdoor studio space for drawing studies of shadow, shape and space...