Lights, Camera … Canadian TV Film Crew Documents the Beacon Hill Village Action

Beacon Hill Village (BHV) will be a star attraction in a documentary about aging-in-place communities being produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., (CBC) which dispatched a camera crew to Boston late last month to record a sampling of the Village’s myriad services and activities.

From an early-morning political discussion group to a night at the opera, BHV staff and members were very much in the spotlight as CBC Senior International Reporter Gilles Gougeon and his crew tracked their moves for the network’s “One Hour on Earth” show, which will feature aging-in-place communities in this country and abroad. The CBC, Canada’s public television and radio network, plans to air the show later this year.

A first-in-the-nation model, BHV was founded in 2001 to serve residents of Boston’s downtown neighborhoods age 50 and over who prefer residing in their own homes as they advance in age rather than moving to continuing-care retirement facilities. The Village enables them to stay in their homes and neighborhoods by making available a broad array of services and referrals to meet their daily needs and a range of activities for their enjoyment. As it marks its first decade, the BHV can take credit for having served as a template for more than 65 other villages nationally and internationally.

“We were honored that the CBC chose Beacon Hill Village as an innovative model to film for their documentary,” said BHV Executive Director Judy Willett.

The 2½-day filming schedule was action-packed, beginning with a late-afternoon interview with BHV President Stephen Roop at the Village’s Joy Street headquarters.

Roop spoke animatedly about the Village’s founding and the concept behind the aging-in-place model.

The next morning, the video team followed a couple of Village members as they were picked up at their home and transported to a supermarket in Somerville for their weekly grocery shopping. Transportation and assistance with food shopping are among the Village’s most popular services.

That afternoon, the CBC crew returned to BHV’s offices to film BHV staffer Devon Geller teaching a member how to navigate computer programs. The crew also documented a Web-inar, led by Rita Kostiuk, Virginia-based Village-to-Village Network national coordinator, for Villages across the country.

The final day of shooting began at 8 a.m. when “The Second Cup” (as in coffee) discussion group, consisting of about 20 BHV members (and early-risers), launched into a discussion of current events at the Beacon Hill Bistro on Charles Street.

From there, the film team headed over to the Beacon Hill home of BHV board member Daniel Taylor and his wife Karen Cord Taylor, also a longtime Village member, who were interviewed about their reasons for joining BHV and the program offerings they favor.

That afternoon, an exercise class, with Robyn Dalton as fitness instructor, provided some lively footage of BHV members working out.

The activities ended with dinner for BHV members at the Eastern Standard restaurant in Kenmore Square, followed by the Boston Midsummer Opera’s performance of Rossini’s “The Italian Girl in Algiers.” The Beacon Hill Village members and staff applauding the performance could take a bow themselves for their impressive role in the CBC’s upcoming documentary.

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