This profile was prepared when Timothy Carpenter was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
By providing life-enhancing programs to low and moderate-income seniors living in affordable apartment communities, Tim is transforming aging into a new beginning. He founded EngAGE: The Art of Active Aging to provide older adults with opportunities for community engagement through programs that nourish mind, body, and spirit. Tim views housing for senior adults as more than shelter, but as communities of people with the potential to grow, thrive, and contribute their talents and experience to society. He imagined a new system of senior housing built first and foremost on respect and appreciation for the interests and preferences of each individual tenant. Based on this vision, he created a new model of affordable housing that fosters successful aging and promotes physical and mental health. Beyond that, EngAGE offers the support and encouragement older individuals need to pursue their dreams, express their views, expand their intellectual and creative abilities, and live full, rich lives. Tim aims to set a new standard in the field through programs that promote wellness, lifelong learning, artistic exploration and expression, and civic “EngAGEment.” Tim knows that every day you delay the progression of aging, you reap a huge savings in human potential and the cost of caring for frail elderly. From his experience in the real estate field, Tim also understands that developers vying for lucrative contracts to build and operate low-income housing for seniors gain a competitive advantage by offering housing plus support services. He joined forces with senior housing developers to integrate a bold new “active aging” program into the design of these properties. Tim says they “got it right” when Meta Housing built the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, which was his brainchild and which was recognized by the New York Times as a new direction in late-life living. Tim realized his vision in this apartment building, which he “front-loaded” by attracting many of the initial tenants from local arts organizations. Residents enjoy outdoor performance areas, a theater and screening room, digital filmmaking equipment, drama classes, a read-aloud library, an art gallery and sculpture garden, art studios, and classrooms. They not only pursue their own interests in private lessons or college-level classes, but also choose a role that suits them in each of many creative projects. The success of this model has fostered his efforts to create similar communities nationwide.