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Being a Good Neighbor Makes a Difference

With a commitment to community as one of our core beliefs at Optima®, it’s no surprise that we are tuned into the notion of neighborliness and what it means to be a good neighbor. We take great satisfaction in nurturing the desire for connection and engagement with residents across all of our communities and love to keep abreast with research that lends new insight into why it matters to know your neighbors.

In a recent Axios piece, published on July 27, 2022, Erica Pandey explores “The power of knowing your neighbors.” Drawing data from a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2019, here’s what we’ve learned:

A majority of Americans don’t know most of their neighbors — and they barely talk to the ones they do know.

Why it matters: Strong communities boost the health, happiness, and longevity of their residents. Befriending neighbors ensures a helping hand in times of need and provides new friends to explore your larger neighborhood. But over the last several decades, our connections with our neighbors have been fraying.

What’s happening: We’re leaving our homes with screens in our hands. And since the pandemic made us even less likely than we were before to stop and chat with new folks, most of the people living around us are strangers.

Optima Lakeview’s communal sports lounge, golf simulator and basketball/pickleball court

Thankfully, each of our Optima Communities supports plenty of opportunities to engage with fellow neighbors, whether you know them or not! We design spaces that inherently bring people closer to each other, closer to their environment and closer to themselves. This intention manifests itself from the thought-provoking artwork that fills the hallways of each community to the wealth of communal amenity spaces, including fully outfitted sports areas, movie theaters, party and game rooms and state-of-the-art fitness centers. 

Along with our state-of-the-art amenities, each of our onsite teams carefully curates a variety of social events and programs throughout the year. From hosting food trucks and music and cocktail nights to flower arranging courses and fitness classes, we take the time to understand each of our residents’ interests, so we can thoughtfully tailor our programming around them!

And because we not only see the value in having a tight-knit community within our walls but within our broader neighborhoods, we created the Optima® Connect Program. Through the program, residents in each of our multi-family communities receive exclusive benefits and discounts to local businesses around their larger communities, further fostering a friendly community ecosystem.

Supporting connection among our residents and neighbors is something we care deeply about at Optima. So, what’re you waiting for? Step outside and spark a conversation today!

Trending Now: A Brief History of Ping-Pong

If you’re unsure how to spend an open afternoon or a few hours of free time, look no further than an Optima® community! Ping-pong is just one of the many entertaining activities included in each of our multi-family developments. And while you might remember playing the lively game as a kid, what you might not know is its rich history. Today, we’re exploring the ever-evolving story of ping-pong.

The popular pastime of ping-pong that we know today arose in England in the late 19th century. At the time, it was more widely known as table tennis. The fast-paced game originated in Victorian England as an adaptation of the popular lawn tennis game to transfer the activity inside for the cold winter. And unlike the simple ball and paddle used today, participants in the game’s early years would get creative with their equipment, regularly using champagne corks as the ball, cigar boxes as the paddle and books as the net. 

However, it wasn’t until 1890 that the pastime enjoyed by the wealthy class of England attracted a greater appeal when David Foster patented the first table tennis-style game. It quickly became a favorite across Europe, and Hungary held the first national championship in 1897. During this time, the game became termed ‘ping-pong’, originating from the onomatopoeic sound of the bat striking the ball and the ball hitting the table. 

The Optima Lakeview® game room, featuring a ping-pong table

While the sport slowed down in the early 20th century due to a lack of governance, it experienced a revival in the 1920s following the founding of the International Federation of Table Tennis and its first-ever world championships. After the game equipment transitioned from a hard bat to a sponge bat in the mid-20th century, elite players from Japan and China helped to revive interest in the sport once again. Concurrently, ping-pong diplomacy advanced, contributing to enhanced relationships with Eastern and Western nations. 

While many don’t know the rich history behind the sport today, ping-pong’s dominant presence across the world remains. Seoul, South Korea, was the city to first introduce ping-pong to the Olympics in 1988, and following that, the activity gradually turned professional in the 1990s. Today, it remains the most practiced sport in China and an integral part of the country’s culture.  

A semi final ping-pong match between Chin and Korea at the 2012 London Olympics

Ping-pong’s attraction is rooted in more than its entertainment value, as it’s known to boost the health of both the body and the mind. Everything from the speed to the ball placement is crucial in the game, which is why routine players are highly skilled in creative and critical thinking. The fast back and forths and short distance nature of the sport also help with improved flexibility, hand-eye coordination and balance over time. 

Constantly bringing together people from different walks of life, the game of ping-pong embodies our commitment to connection and wellness within each of our communities.

Trending Now: Backgammon — Fun and Then Some!

If you’re feeling sheepish about using your “free time” to settle into the card room at Optima Verdana® with a friend, relative or neighbor — and a backgammon board between the two of you — worry no more. You are about to engage in a high-value activity with a game that is a perfect combination of relaxation and stimulation.

That’s because backgammon, one one of the most classic board games, is a treasure trove that offers you far more than entertainment.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to discover its delights, backgammon is a two-player game. It uses a board with a series of narrow color-coded wedges and two sets of 15-pieces, one for each player.There is also a pair of dice and a cube used for betting, called a doubling cube. The ancestors of backgammon date back nearly 5,000 years to Mesopotamia and Persia; the earliest record of backgammon itself dates to 17th century England, where it descended from an earlier game called Irish.

Backgammon involves plenty of strategy, coupled with the luck related to rolling the dice at the beginning of each player’s move. With each roll of the dice, you must choose from numerous options for moving your pieces, while anticipating possible counter-moves by your opponent. And when you get the doubling cube involved, you raise the stakes during a game. What fun!

And the good times don’t stop there. Backgammon has the potential to boost memory and cognition abilities, regardless of your age, since the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are given a workout. These areas are responsible for memory formation and complex thought processes. And with the exercise your brain gets through playing, you’ll also decrease the risk of cognitive diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Optima Lakeview’s game room, Chef’s kitchen and dining area

Playing backgammon is fun and confidence-building. When your opponent pulls ahead or you roll double sixes three times in a row, you can’t help but crack a smile. And that means your endorphins are flowing and your blood pressure decreases — as you experience a moment of pure pleasure — all the while enjoying the company of another person. If you are able to organize regular sessions of backgammon with a group of people, imagine how good it can feel to sharpen your skills and strengthen your relationships.

It’s somewhat of a cliché to say that games are for all ages. But a simple truth about backgammon is that it is a fantastic way to teach math and probability concepts to children, while providing a forum for children and adults to relate on a level playing field. Literally.

Backgammon boards/sets come in all shapes and sizes. Choose the one best suited for you and your comrades and head up to the Optima Verdana® game room!

Trending Now: Euchre Anyone?

Imagine a beautiful afternoon in the Optima Verdana® game room, with sunlight flooding the space and the scent of hot coffee and fresh cookies wafting. Sounds like a perfect setting for a rousing game of Euchre.

If you’re not a fan yet, euchre is the faster and wilder cousin of bridge. Both are four-person games with two players on each team that involve bidding, trumping and taking tricks.. As we’ve shared previously, bridge is methodical, complex and mathematically precise. It is often played in near silence, since players need to focus their energies on accounting for all 52 cards in the deck. In contrast, euchre only uses 24 cards, making the game simpler and easier to play, and leaves lots of opportunity for levity. Of the 24 cards — the nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings and aces — only 20 are played each hand, since four cards remain face-down in the “kitty,” increasing the role that chance plays in the game.

Euchre has been played in North America since the early 19th century, and was widely regarded as our national card game. Most researchers agree that it originated in Alsace as “Juckerspiel” and was brought to the New World by German-speaking immigrants. It’s also fascinating that game manufacturers in the U.S. added the first “Joker” to decks of playing cards as a glorified Jack. Once you dig into the game, all of this will make perfect sense!

Optima Verdana’s sky deck features various game rooms among the pool, sauna and spa.
Optima Verdana’s sky deck features various game rooms among the pool, sauna and spa.

As with many analog in-person pastimes, Euchre waned in popularity as mobility and technology offered myriad alternatives for recreation and entertainment. In recent years, however, the trend has started to reverse — in large measure as a response to Covid’s forced isolation. Today, people of all ages are forming weekly Euchre clubs and regular meetups, and once again the game is drawing people together for challenge, camaraderie and relaxation. At Optima Verdana, residents have the luxury of engaging with neighbors in private game rooms, book and cooking clubs, yoga classes and other neighborhood volunteer opportunities!

So while you wait for the card tables to be set up at Optima Verdana®, start learning the rules!

How to Make Your Pets More Comfortable at Home

At Optima, we constantly challenge ourselves to bring exceptional features to our communities that elevate the lives of our residents — and the lives of their beloved pets, too. Whether bringing your pet into a new home or welcoming a new pet into your forever home, ensuring their comfort and happiness should always be a top priority. So, here are our tips for how you can make your furry friend most comfortable in their home:

While it might sound strange, one of the first steps you can take to ensure your pet is comfortable in your surroundings is getting to know the amenities they can utilize throughout your larger community. Outdoor areas and parks like One Bennett Park and Cityfront Plaza near Optima Signature, Lincoln Park near Optima Lakeview and Horizon Dog Park near Optima Kierland make great locations to get outside with your pet. 

Exercise is another crucial factor in a pet’s comfort. Whether you find time to enjoy a refreshing walk outside with your pet throughout the day or spend time with them indoors, an active pet usually equals a happy pet. For pet owners at Optima Lakeview, Optima Kierland, Optima Signature, Optima Sonoran Village and our upcoming Optima Verdana property, our exceptional private dog parks provide the perfect place to exercise steps from home! Additional pet perks for Optima residents include dog walking services, onsite grooming, pet visits and pet sitting!

There are plenty of other steps you can pick up to ensure your pets are safe and stress-free when home. If you don’t work from home, leaving at a set time each day helps set a routine for your pet and can alleviate their anxiety when you’re gone. Crafting an indoor space dedicated to your pet is another great way to make them feel more at home when you’re gone; adorn the area with a comfortable bed and plenty of toys. 

Whether you have the luxury of working from home and spending the day with your furry friend or your time together is limited during the day, making sure your pet is happy and comfortable at home is always important to remember. So make sure you’re taking the correct steps to do so!

Attention all board game lovers!

As we continue to anticipate great times ahead once the Optima Verdana® card room opens — when we will spend many an evening with friends huddled over a backgammon or Scrabble board — we can, in the meantime, feed our curiosity about the history of board games. It’s fascinating!

While much has been written about board games by scholars and laypeople alike, one of the best sources around is It’s All a Game:The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan. Written by Tristan Donovan and published by St. Martin’s Press in 2017, this smart, engaging book by a renowned games expert helps us understand how board games continue to captivate our attention and to bring us back to the proverbial table, in spite of the allure of myriad technology toys and the scourge of decreasing attention spans.

Optima Verdana’s sky deck featuring various game rooms among the pool, sauna and spa.

Throughout the book, Donovan explores the roots of board games’ consistent popularity. Analyzing the influence of social, political, and economic influences on board game designers and manufacturers, Donovan maps the evolution of our modern-day relationship with board games across time, geographies, and cultures. He also examines the impact this leisure activity has had on popular psychology. 

Donovan writes expansively on the history and evolution of ancient games and their current-day counterparts. He traces the Indian and Persian influences on chess and explains how the rules and game pieces evolved to reflect first Muslim and then European societies. He also examines how games like Monopoly developed as games that required both strategy and luck, paying special attention to how the original versions of these games reflected the times in which they were born, and how they changed over time.

Marvin Glass, a board game inventor from Chicago, in the a 1961 issue of Chicago Tribune Magazine

Donovan’s survey of gaming history is full of amusing anecdotes and eccentric characters, including a discussion of Marvin Glass, an eccentric and paranoid toy inventor from Chicago, whose infusion of plastics into board games like Operation and Mouse Trap brought the board game and toy industries together.

If you’re a trivia buff, you’ll also love It’s All a Game, since Donovan spares no detail about board games and their histories. And if nothing else, it will help you build a huge arsenal of interesting tidbits and stories to share when you find yourself gathering and gaming at Optima Verdana®!

Pet-Friendly Amenities at Optima Lakeview

We know how important pets are and we want to make them feel right at home when you choose to live in one of our communities. For anyone searching for the perfect home for themselves and their beloved animals, here are a few reasons why our newest development, Optima Lakeview, is the perfect option.

Optima Lakeview’s proximity to the lakefront and Belmont Dog Beach makes it one of the best locations in the neighborhood to own a pet. One of the most exceptional pet features in Optima Lakeview is the 2,000 SF heated dog park on the ground floor. The park, with its lush landscaping, comfortable seating and friendly astroturf is an ideal place for your dog to get exercise and enjoy the fresh air year-round. And after a romp around the park, take your furry companion to the community’s pet spa. With this convenient service, you can always make sure your buddy is sparkling clean before heading back to your apartment. 

Optima Lakeview’s onsite pet spa

Along with our spa, our wonderful team provides onsite grooming services for every pet that walks through its doors. And because we understand that many pets are home alone throughout the day, we offer our residents dog-walking services to make sure your beloved companion has ample time outdoors, even if you’re not available. For those unable to travel with their pet, Optima Lakeview offers in-home petsitting, so you can leave your little buddy in good hands and reduce the stress of finding a sitter. 

At Optima Lakeview, we invite our residents to expect the extraordinary. And what better way can we deliver on this promise than by making your pets’ lives easier and more enjoyable!

Trending Now: The Art of Playing Bridge

No one can dispute the remarkable benefits of participating in multi-player card games — from stimulating the brain to problem-solving with others, relaxation and relieving stress. And then consider the added perks of being in an exceptionally-designed physical space, flooded with natural light and furnished with comfy mid-century Modern gems. Taken together, what could possibly offer a better way to spend a few hours than settling into the Optima Verdana® card room with three other bridge enthusiasts for a friendly match?

For those who aren’t already in the know, bridge is a four-person card game played by two teams who compete to earn the most points by winning tricks: sets of four cards, one from each player. Players are dealt 13 cards each round, in which they bid on how many tricks they think they can win and determine which suit trumps the others. While the origins of bridge are not definitively known, a similar game called khedive appeared in Constantinople before 1870, and a nearly-identical game had been played in Greece prior to that. The game of bridge eventually made its way to New York society in 1893, and it has been a staple in our leisure culture since then. 

Today, according to the American Contract Bridge League, a whopping 25 million Americans over 18 know how to play, even though this is far fewer players than in the 1950s, when at least one person played bridge in 44 percent of U.S. homes. In the past several years, there has been a dramatic onboarding of new players of all ages, very much a result of sequestering at home during COVID-19.

The single best way to learn bridge — and to continue to improve — is simply by playing. And don’t be afraid to read bridge books, listen to podcasts and exchange tips with fellow players. Check out these great bridge resources for endless ways to make bridge playing part of your everyday life. And when you’re ready to take advantage of Optima Verdana®’s extraordinary space to gather and game, grab a fresh deck of playing cards, a few friends and enjoy!

Optima Verdana’s sky deck featuring the party room, billiard table, ping pong table and various game rooms.

Modern Decor For Your Home

At Optima, our affinity for modern design and style stretches through all of our Communities. In the past, we’ve explored the history and identity of modern furniture, but we’ve never touched on the defining elements of modern decor. So, if you’re looking to elevate your home with a modern eye, look no further:

Like design, remember that with modernism, form follows function; this means that every decor element you have should always reflect its intended purpose. Avoid inserting decor that doesn’t add supplementary function or purpose to your home. However, this doesn’t mean that your decor has to be limited; many modernist designs also embrace vibrant colors, unique shapes and various materials.

Embrace The Light 

One key trait of modernism is utilizing and celebrating a space’s natural light. For windows, modesty is key; even with curtains, use soft and sheer fabrics to keep it minimal. Another great way to stretch the natural light in your home and manipulate space is by adding mirrors to your interior. Hang mirrors where they’re most practical in your home. Rooms that have limited light and feel small may benefit from a large mirror, and it might make sense to place a mirror across from your home’s beautiful view or a statement piece.

brightly lit living room with an orange sofa, patterned rug, glass accent table, and other modern home decor
Vibrant colors and organic textures in an Optima Sonoran Village residence

Introduce Texture & Color

Whether you start with the living room or the bathroom, introducing organic textures to your home is a great way to welcome modern design. Bring the outdoors in with furniture and decor elements that feature natural wood and stone. Other warm textures like leather and natural fibers make fantastic options for complimenting other modern features of your home. Modern design and warm elements don’t have to conflict with one another.

To some, modernism is only associated with monochromatic tones like gray, white and black, but extending pops of vibrant color throughout your home is a great way to add life to the environment. Place a bright-colored rug in the center of a large room or go all natural and bring in lush greenery and foliage.

Modern decor and design continue to be timeless templates for accessorizing homes. Whether you start utilizing your home’s natural light or mix in a splash of color, there are countless ways to embrace modern decor throughout your home.

Autumn in Chicago & Scottsdale

Chicago and Scottsdale both provide endless activities and events throughout the year, but autumn is when the allure of both cities emerges more than ever. From Oktoberfest in Lakeview to a hike in the Sonoran Mountains, here are a few of the many activities you can discover throughout Chicago and Scottsdale this autumn: 

Chicago

Throughout the city, there are many locations to admire the vibrant autumn leaves as they change, and the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe is one. Across their more than 385 acres of land, they provide their fall-color tree walk and host the Night of 1,000 Pumpkins event in October.  

Another way to enjoy the cool autumn weather in Chicago is by visiting the nostalgic ChiTown Movies Outdoor Theater. Nearly every night, they showcase blockbusters, classics and every genre in between in the Pilsen neighborhood. For anyone looking to stay indoors, you can catch Broadway shows like Wicked and Anastasia downtown or enjoy cutting-edge shows in the Belmont Theater District, in the neighborhood of Optima Lakeview.  

The Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden

Autumn also brings an array of local festivals that reside throughout almost every neighborhood of the city. Two of the most popular events include Lakeview’s entertainment-filled Oktoberfest held on September 23-25, and Lincoln Square’s Apple Fest the first weekend of October. 

Scottsdale 

There’s no better way to enjoy the Sonoran desert and its autumn weather than seeing it up close! McDowell’s Sonoran Preserve, less than a 15-minute drive from Optima Kierland and 30-minute drive from Optima Sonoran Village, is the perfect desert habitat for both bikers and hikers, thanks to its more than 225 miles of scenic trails. Pinnacle Peak Park, a little farther North, provides even more panoramic views of the Sonoran Desert. 

McDonald’s Ranch Pumpkin Patch is a popular spot for anyone looking for classic, seasonal entertainment. Not only are they known for their bright pumpkin patch, but they also have a petting zoo, hay-bale maze, and various lawn games throughout October. 

The Spooktacular Hot Air Balloon Festival in Scottsdale
The Spooktacular Hot Air Balloon Festival in Scottsdale

The season also brings various themed festivals to Scottsdale. One of the most enjoyed is the Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival, where visitors can discover both unique artworks and new blends of wine. In October, the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale fill their grounds with a display of graphic hot air balloons accompanied by live music, delicious food and costumed guests for its Spooktacular Hot Air Balloon Festival

The autumn months don’t last long. So before time runs out, take advantage of all the fascinating seasonal opportunities found throughout Chicago and Scottsdale!

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL





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