The Power
of the People
Next Door

The Power of the People Next Door

Across fourteen chapters that weave together memoir, social science research and the narratives of Hope Meadows residents, Neighbors portrays an intergenerational neighborhood that, by putting together "a whole bundle of problems...produced a whole bunch of solutions."  —Ted Koppel, Nightline

A vision for a compassionate America...

In this era of angry politics, fractured support systems and life-threatening pandemics, we are faced with a deep sense of disempowerment and of disconnection from all that is familiar. Neighbors is a hopeful blueprint for change, a book with four distinguishing strengths that move it beyond social science and history into the realm of what can be.

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Neighbors addresses the urgent question of how we revitalize and renew our struggling communities. While writers and thought leaders like Tom Friedman and James Fallows have begun to explore what differentiates failing communities from their thriving counterparts, there is not yet a roadmap to get from here to there, let alone one that includes people—all people—as part of the exploration.



Neighbors offers a hopeful prescription for bringing people together to address problems in housing, health care, retirement, and caregiving. Utilizing what psychologist Ann Masten calls the “ordinary magic” of family, friends and neighbors, intentional neighboring responds to social challenges by doing what government, business and social services were never designed to do—focus on caring relationships.


Neighbors recounts the story of an intentional community that actually works—and how we made it work. So much more real than a utopian “pie in the sky,” it provides a vision of how we would like to live and how we can live. It speaks to readers directly, helping them to imagine how they too might lead the way in the creation of new and eminently human solutions to human problems.


Neighbors is a book built to last. Emerging from intensive research and the twenty-five-year history of a community of practice, this book’s compelling stories of individuals and lessons for creating caring communities provide a vision of the lost and perhaps squandered power of everyday people to unite us. This credible and revealing vision will make Neighbors relevant and useful for years to come.

About The

In Neighbors: The Power of the People Next Door, author Brenda Krause Eheart tells the story of Hope Meadows, the first intergenerational planned community in which seniors commit to neighboring as a way to provide support to families seeking to adopt children out of foster care. Neighbors brings to life the residents who came to call Hope home: the retired seniors who longed for purpose in their lives; the adoptive families who needed all the love and support they could get; and the children who were now surrounded by new families and grandfriends.

By bringing Hope Meadows to life, this book about the caring power of the people next door enables readers to see what intentional neighboring looks like in action. Later chapters focus on the core values and principles supporting the mission and guiding the day-to-day life of the Hope Meadows community during Brenda’s tenure there. These values inspired three critical shifts in thinking: changing how we view family, how we view vulnerability, and how we view older adults. Resident stories chronicle the deep ways in which these new perceptions informed their relationships and transformed their lives. Finally, Neighbors brings the lessons of Hope Meadows into today’s world, drawing its core values and design patterns into a model to strengthen our country’s fraying social safety net—one taken up by innovative leaders across the country. These leaders are addressing a variety of social needs and offering an imperative for change in the way we value, utilize, and understand human relationships and their power to restore and unite us. Neighbors: The Power of the People Next Door
About The

Brenda Krause Eheart is a leading authority on intentional neighboring. It was her research while at the University of Illinois that led to her breakthrough idea to create intergenerational communities where vulnerable people can reengage within a supportive environment while also engaging in service to others. In 1994, in response to the ravages of the crack epidemic in her state and its impact on families and children, Brenda started Hope Meadows, an intergenerational community created to support families adopting children from the foster care system, and spent ten years as its executive director. She went on to found Generations of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the lives of vulnerable populations by tapping the transformative power of intergenerational community living through intentional neighboring.

Brenda has received numerous honors, including The Heinz Award in Human Condition, the AARP Inspire Award, and Elfenwork’s In Harmony with Hope Award. She was named an Ashoka Fellow and a Civic Ventures Purpose Prize Fellow. In 2011, the Obama Administration honored her as a Champion of Change. Her work with Hope Meadows has been honored by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Innovations in American Government (finalist), and she was presented the US Department of Human Services Adoption Excellence Award by President Clinton. Hope Meadows has been featured in prominent broadcast and print media, including ABC Nightline, CBS 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The New York Times, and NPR’s All Things Considered. Brenda and Hope Meadows were also featured in Lesley Stahl’s recent book, Becoming Grandma: The Joy and Science of the New Grandparenting.

Recently retired from her position as the executive director of Generations of Hope, Brenda continues to provide clear values and a cohesive vision for the intentional community movement exploding in this country. She is actively involved with both existing and emerging communities, teaching and inspiring leaders in community planning and development, social health, equity and justice, and cultural change. In November 2017, Brenda was invited to talk about her work at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit for the Obama Presidential Library, where thousands of young entrepreneurs, innovators, and social leaders gathered as a mighty force for future change. In September 2018, she spoke at Chicago’s 2018 Resilience Summit, put on by the National Resilience Institute in conjunction with Rush Medical University. The theme of the summit was "Innovating and Scaling Community Resilience Initiatives."
Brenda Krause Eheart
Brenda Krause Eheart

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