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Leisureville: Adventures in a World Without Children [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Andrew D. Blechman

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Kurzbeschreibung

8. Juli 2009
When his next-door neighbors in a quaint New England town suddenly pick up and move to a gated retirement community in Florida, Andrew D. Blechman is astonished by their stories. Larger than Manhattan, with a golf course for every day of the month, two downtowns, its own newspaper, radio, and TV stations, The Villages is a city of nearly one hundred thousand (and growing), missing only one thing: children. More than twelve million people will soon live in these communities, and to get to the bottom of the trend, Blechman delves into life in the senior utopia. He offers a hilarious first-hand report on all its peculiarities, from ersatz nostalgia and golf-cart mania to manufactured history and the residents' surprisingly active sex life, and introduces us to dozens of outrageous characters. "Leisureville" is also a serious look at a major and underreported trend, only to get bigger as the baby boomers retire. Blechman travels to Arizona to show what has happened after decades of segregation. He investigates the government of these "instant" cities, attends a builder's conference, speaks with housing experts, and examines the implications of millions of Americans dropping out of society and closing the gates on kids.
-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Leisureville is a first-hand look at the growing phenomenon of gated retirement communities where children are not permitted. Blechman throws himself into these segregated senior utopias with characteristic abandon - he rides golf carts, plays bingo, and chafes at the make-believe history and detachment from the outside world. Blechman's journey begins when his next-door neighbours suddenly pick up and move to a retirement community called 'The Villages' - the largest gated retirement community in the world. Connected by miles of golf-cart paths, The Villages is a city of nearly 100,000 (and growing) - and the exclusion of children is one of the foundations of the development. And it is only one of a rapidly growing number of age-segregated communities in the Western world. This social trend is also on the rise in Australia, with an ageing population of baby boomers who are retiring younger and in generally better health than their forebears. A fascinating blend of serious history, social criticism, and hilarious, engaging reportage, Leisureville is also a reminder that life really does begin at 50! -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Amazon.com: 3.9 von 5 Sternen  115 Rezensionen
114 von 123 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting but a bit too biased 13. Juli 2008
Von DoctorBob - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I have lived in The Villages for over 5 years and I'm a Social Psychologist (PhD) and physician (MD). After reading a review of Blechman's book in the Boston Globe and seeing an editorial by him in the Los Angeles Times, I was prepared not to like his book and to write a scathing review.

After reading Leisureville, and personally knowing some of the people he interviewed, I find my opinion of his work to be somewhat mixed. There is much about his book that is well done. And there is much that is poorly done from the standpoint of even handed social science.

Blechman never claims to be a sociologist or psychologist or anything other than an author with a firmly entrenched point of view, viz.: age segregated communities are bad. He not only doesn't like The Villages (pop. c75,000)([...] he doesn't like Sun City either. He also doesn't like the lifestyle in retirement communities. He lets you know this in the first short chapter where he bemoans the loss of his neighbors who are moving to The Villages. By page 9, he asks "How could two bright individuals be drawn to something as seemingly ridiculous as The Villages?"

As you read through the book he tries to make the point that homogeneous communities without a diveristy of age, class, lifestyle, interest, etc. are intrinsically bad. His last chapter is a summary of his position based on his non-scientific observations of The Villages, Sun City, and Youngville. Biased as his outlook is, there is still a lot in the middle that makes his book worth reading.

There are research data which support some of his positions. Homogeneous communities do not support tolerance and understanding. They tend to increase 'groupthink' and insularity. When a group is ideologically homogeneous the positions adopted by its members tend to become more inflexible and more extreme. This leads to less tendency to compromise or debate and more reactionary thinking.

Do we need to worry about the social and political effects of ageism because of age segregated communities? Do religiously segregated communites like Ave Maria or fundamentalist Mormon communities threaten civil liberties? Are gay/lesian communities a threat to life in America? How far do you want to take Blechman's rejection of homogeneous communities.

Some of the things he writes about regarding The Villages are right on the mark. Its daily newspaper is, indeed, a joke. It is so right wing that it presents Ann Coulter as an intellectual and fosters several local columnists who emulate her style.

The governance system using the Community Development Districts and their control by the developer are, in truth, a black spot on the body politic. There is little organized opposition to the status quo outside of the 5000 member Property Owners Association

Much of the rest of Blechman's book is actually pretty accurate. We do go everywhere in our golf carts, we do have wonderful restaurants, over a thousand clubs/interest groups, lots of golf at very reasonable prices ($20-30 per round on championship courses), pools,
dances, entertainment in the villages squares, opera, theater, concerts, recreation centers, good friends, neighborhood parties, etc.

Blechman does spend a bit too much time on sex in The Villages and his sources of information are not particularly representative. Sexually transmitted diseases are reportable and statistics are kept by county health departments. I have not treated an excessive number of STDs and I have not seen health department data suggesting that they are particularly prevalent in retirement communities in general or The Villages in particular. I find Blechman's emphasis on the topic of sexuality to border on pandering.

The author is good at wordcraft. Despite his obvious bias he raises some interesting questions about The Villages and about age segregated communities in general. If you want to know more about The Villages, come for a visit rather than make your mind up based on this book.

Addendum 2013

We have now lived in The Villages for more than 10 years. Blechman is more wrong than he originally was.
The population is now over 100,000 and 95,000 of them are very happy to be here ( the remainder complain of being too far from grandchildren). There are now 3 town squares, an innovative medical system, a well appointed hospital, lots of theater, music, art and activities. Over 2000 clubs and special interest groups exist to tempt you into an active lifestyle. There are more holes of golf than you will probably ever play and the executive courses are free. The whole place is accessible by your golf cart if you care not to drive. The transition from Developer run to resident run local government has been smooth and seems to be working as planned. My comment above about the 'black spot' is probably no longer applicable. Crime is so low as to be almost non-existent. Grandchildren love to visit to drive around with you in your golf cart and go to Disney and Universal...

Don't let others make up your mind for you; COME, VISIT, and talk to people on the town squares in the evening. Decide for yourself.

ADDENDUM: 2014
The population is now about 110,000; much larger than many towns or cities up north. It is still a truly wonderful place to live. Crime is so low as to be almost non-existent compared to similar sized cites elsewhere. The golf, restaurants, pools, recreation centers, Life Long Learning College, etc. all keep growing apace. The builder is still closing on about 300 houses per month and expects to keep up that pace for the near future. Buyers have an enormous range of choices.

A counterbalance to the developer owned newspaper has sprung up and provides information on life in The Villages that is not covered in detail elsewhere. Check out www.villages-news.com It has info on the good, the bad, and the ugly. Global coverage regarding a recent sex-in-public event on one of the town squares gave us a bit of a black eye in some circles. It turns out that the couple was part of the synchronized sex club and was just practicing... (I hope you realize I'm joking here.)

Regardless of what you see on Inside-Edition or read about The Villages, don't make up your mind without a visit and your own research. When I first visited The Villages, my wife and I toured the Town Square and spoke to residents asking how long they had lived there and if they were happy with the place. I thought, based on the responses, that someone was putting Prozac in the water supply. (kidding again). Check it out for yourself after reading Blechman's book.
59 von 65 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Pass the Viagra!! Retirement heaven ... or hell? 25. Mai 2008
Von Kevin Quinley - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"Leisureville" is an interesting view of a growing trend: age-restricted retirement communities. Author Andrew Blechman - not yet of retirement age - focuses mainly on the mega-retirement community of The Villages outside of Orlando, FL. Living amongst the natives, he offers a sociologists perspective on the pro's and con's of such manufactured communities, with their endless golf, amenities, sunshine, canasta and surprising amounts of geriatric sexual randiness.

Pro's and con's but .. it is clear that Blechman feels the cons predominate: no sidewalks, no diversity, no kids - an artificial Truman Show-like living arrangement that rings hollow. He decries the fact that these oldsters have tuned out from society, pursuing their own visions of retirement escapism from the problems of the world.

Though I understand where he is coming from, the beauty of a free society is that people can opt to choose this lifestyle or not. Choice is paramount. No one frog-marches oldsters to such communities or forces then to remain there if they find it suffocating. Most don't. Most of the characters in Leisureville seem to have few regrets. Life is full of tradeoffs.

Society says to old people, "It's all about youth - you don't matter!" Society worships youth and marginalizes older folks. Hedonistic escapism is hardly the sole province of the aged. Oh, I get it - it's OK for youth and the Lexus-obsessed middle aged. It's just not OK for grandma and gramps. Can we begrudge them if they heed society's marginalization by seeking their own version of community - even if from the vantage point of our youth or comfortable middle age, it seems like a vision of hell?

Maybe our - and Blechman's -- perspective will change once we are old enough to walk a mile in their shoes.
43 von 48 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Entertaining and Informative But Also Preachy and Judgmental 1. Juli 2008
Von Honorable Mensch - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I had mixed feelings about this book, so I'm not surprised to see strongly
positive and negative reviews. On the one hand, it's an eye-opening and
fascinating introduction to retirement communities. Readers who don't know
how they began or just how vast and ambitious they can be will get a sense of
it here. For that alone, it's worth reading.

On the other hand, the author's disapproving view of these communities
undercuts his reporting and makes some of it unreliable. He states
forthrightly in Chapter One that he doesn't understand how seemingly bright
people could be drawn to something as undeniably kitschy as The Villages
(the community he focuses on). He never tries very hard to achieve
enlightenment on this key point.

At times, his tone is snarky. In numerous instances, when he asks a
question of inhabitants of The Villages, their fatuous response begins with
the word "Gosh." Is it really likely that so many different people spoke
that way? Or is that just how he heard them all? And are the activities at
The Villages mainly just line-dancing and bingo? Among the 75,000 residents
and hundreds of activity groups, he couldn't find one dealing with, say,
books or art?

He did manage to devote a section to the community's lone transsexual,
probably just to highlight the oddness of it amidst the kitsch. Fun reading
but not exactly balanced reporting.

More substantively, he seems to regard the senior citizens at these
childless, school-free, low-tax retirement communities as violators of a
social compact. They've abandoned the full-service communities up North
that sustained them throughout their lives, he feels, not fulfilling their
duty to stick around and support the next generation spiritually and
financially. He makes this point throughout the book, with a somewhat
preachy cumulative effect.

His argument, though not without some merit, is flawed. These retirees
have, after all, paid taxes their whole lives. And many have their life
savings wrapped up in their homes. If they want to sell and retire after a
life of hard work, where can they live on the proceeds? A tiny apartment
somewhere? Their quality of life might be quite poor if they tried to
survive on social security and savings in many towns and cities. In most
cases they are not going to be taken in by family to live surrounded by
adoring grandchildren. Suddenly The Villages look a little better.

Blechman is weirdly oblivious to the hardships and needs of the elderly,
particularly widows and widowers. He presents an airbrushed, romanticized
picture of "real life" in his New England community, all the while sneering
at the tacky communal activities of senior citizens in The Villages.

This is a good but flawed book. With a little less bias and a slightly less
hectoring tone, it could have been a much better one.
25 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen enjoyed this book 20. Juni 2008
Von Linedancer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I enjoyed this book. Like some of the other readers I am a resident of the Villages. There are pros and cons no matter where you live. But, the Villages comes as close to the ideal retirement as you can get. The fact that you can come from any walk of life and still be able to live like you are rich is very desirable.

If I have any correction to the book, it is the fact that there are no children. Children are everywhere here. No, they are not allowed to live in this community but they are allowed to visit and visit they do. One of the attractions of the Villages for us was the fact that they are so welcoming to children. During school breaks they have several golf lessons for kids, Easter Bunny things during Easter and the biggest one of all is Camp Villages. Camp Villages runs around six weeks during the summer. You can sign up your grandchildren for a multiple of activities during the week and there are special events and special activities for teenagers. We just had our granddaughter attend her first camp and she was crying as she was going home. She didn't want to leave and she is 14!!! One activity she did was a art class that lastest three hours. They were taught all kinds of things and at a cost of only $10.00 to the grandparents. At this class she met a girl that she hit it off with and they are planning on coming together next year. Grandchildren of Villagers have the opportunity to experience quality time with their grandparents that is unique only to the Villages.

So folks you can think what you want but until you experience the lifestyle of the Villages there is no way anyone can explain this place to you.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Entertaining, Eye-opening Read 5. Juni 2009
Von L.A. in CA - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Great peek into the internal goings-on at a couple of adult-only retirement communities. Especially spotlighted is a master-planned development called "The Villages" in Florida. The author spends a month staying with friends at The Villages & immerses himself into the retirement culture there. For the purposes of making a book interesting, he chooses a few of the more eccentric residents to interview.

The Morse family, who owns The Villages, is strongly Conservative politically - donating over one million dollars to the GOP, and earning the status of Bush "Pioneer". The residents seem to love the conservative, regulated atmosphere. But obviously, it wouldn't appeal to everyone. The Morse family also own the radio and television station in the community, making sure that any news broadcast meets with their approval and is in line with their ideals. In addition, they own most of the businesses. So, as someone in the book stated, The Villages is pretty much a company town. But it is clean. It is safe. It offers recreation, and medical care.

A good question that is addressed by the author is whether or not the Baby Boomers will flock to places like this when they retire. Will the "Woodstock" generation somehow morph into the "shuffleboard" and "bingo" generation?
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