It’s no secret that Chicago hasn’t done integration very well. A couple of neighborhoods—Beverly, Hyde Park—are integrated racially but not very diverse economically. (They’re both fairly affluent.) And if you’re looking for a neighborhood that’s also integrated by age—a racially and economically integrated neighborhood with regular interaction between kids and seniors—you won’t find it here. Or most anywhere, for that matter.
But such a community does exist, just a two-hour drive south of Chicago, in the town of Rantoul. In Hope Meadows, 38 kids from troubled families who were in foster care are now living with adoptive parents in eight families. Those children and families are supported not just by each other but also by 42 senior residents (ages 55 and older) who work as tutors, playground supervisors, and crossing guards, and who often become mentors for the kids. Everyone lives in a five-block community on a former air force base.