Stuff. Most of us have a lot of it -- far more than we need.


Most of us have a lot of it -- far more than we need.

The first in a series of Neighborhood Conversations sponsored by WOSU Public Media took place recently in Clintonville, and it focused on how people can cope with having less stuff when moving to smaller abodes.

Empty nesters were the target audience for "Downsize and De-Clutter After 60," part of the Next Avenue CBus initiative at WOSU.

Next Avenue CBus is designed to bring together "curious learners" age 50 and older to gather information and advice relevant to them, according to WOSU's website.

Judy Minister of Minister Realty and Janelle Alloway, founder and manager of a business that focuses on downsizing and relocating, were the featured speakers.

Tom Rieland, WOSU Public Media general manager since 2002, welcomed the 40-plus people who attended the July 12 gathering at Mozart's Bakery and Piano Cafe, saying Next Avenue Cbus would hold future conversations in neighborhoods throughout Columbus.

"I went through this process a year and a half ago and moved to Clintonville and downsized, so it will be nice to find out what I did wrong," Rieland said.

In opening her presentation, Minister, who also is a member of the Clintonville Area Commission, asked those in the audience where they were from. A majority was from Clintonville, but several hailed from Worthington, Powell and other suburbs.

Minister said there is a growing trend for retirees or those approaching retirement to move to central-city neighborhoods such as Clintonville, the Short North, Harrison West or even downtown. In many instances, she added, these relocations take advantage of abatements on property taxes that helped entice developers to the areas.

Condos and townhouses in these neighborhoods can cost as low as $150,000, Minister told her audience.

The pluses of downsizing include lower utility bills and home-maintenance costs, reduced taxes and the freedom to travel, Minister said.

Deb Flower-Smith, who works at Minister Realty, spoke of making the "very emotional" decision she and her husband made recently to leave their Clintonville home for a much smaller condo in the Sharon Woods subdivision of the Northland area. The new neighborhood features "executive retreat homes" built in the 1970s that sell for between $130,000 and $140,000, the real-estate agent said.

"I had too many clothes," Flower-Smith said she soon realized. "Way too many clothes."

Alloway, whose business is called Life Happens, talked about ways to dispose of excess belongings, but also focused on just how attached people can be about the possessions they've gathered over a lifetime.

"Sentimental attachment is a very difficult thing," the downsizing expert said. "It's soul-cluttering. Don't touch the item. That's one of my biggest rules in purging. You immediately start to add attachment to that item."

One way of preserving the memory of a cherished but no longer needed possession is to simply take a photograph of it, Alloway added.

The website for Life Happens contains a list of places to sell items during downsizing as well as organizations where things can be donated.

Consignment stores, Alloway said, generally offer 25 percent of the resale price, so in many instances the tax deduction from donations makes more sense.