Key Takeaways From Day 1
- The work of age-friendly communities can be good for tourism
- There are multiple approaches to conducting surveys and gathering information about different targeted communities, and not all assessments need to be “scientific”
- Communities have different approaches for undertaking their work based on varying priorities and needs
- Age-friendly efforts can and should address the needs of residents of all ages, not just those of the over 65+ population
- Complete Streets is a big component contributing to an age-friendly approach to the built environment in all states/municipalities
- Recognition of the convergence of millenial and boomer generations since the millenials are the second largest cohort next to the boomers
- Addressing the needs of diverse populations is critical. (LGBT is an often-overlooked segment. Also, consider language barriers.)
- Compile and use data to create a compelling story about the change in demographics
AARP Age-Friendly Community Updates (Part 3)
Philadelphia is the first city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to have a Complete Streets policy. City leaders continue to advocate for safer streets and accessible resources for all ages, and recently launched the planning and research agenda Age-Friendly Philadelphia to help older adults remain healthy and engaged with the community.
Washington, D.C., is focusing on ensuring all minority groups are able to voice their concerns and needs and has actively engaged the faith-based community to support the effort. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray created an age-friendly task force to more effectively cater to the needs of community members.
Des Moines (Iowa), population 500,000, is finishing up its second year as a part of the age-friendly program and is finalizing an assessment report to examine the city’s progress thus far. So far, the biggest challenge has been getting volunteers to do some of the work in the assessment.
Newport (Vermont), population 5,000, is extremely rural, averages 18% below the national poverty line and is rapidly aging. The community is experiencing a significant influx in development, which is contributing to the age-friendly initiative and helping to mobilize residents into an advocacy role.
St. Louis County (Missouri) has 90 separate municipalities, which presents difficulty in working toward unified goals. Preparing for an older population is a major component of St. Louis’s 2013 Strategic Plan Update, which is mostly data-driven. The city has done some GIS mapping and analysis and plans to conduct research into homes in the community with features of universal design.
Macon-Bibb County (Georgia) is almost finished with its second year of the program and is moving from the planning stage to the implementation stage. One major plan in the works is to transform Second Street, a main road in the downtown area, to accommodate the needs and lifestyles of all community members. The city/county government is in a state of transition, which introduces some roadblocks in moving forward with any major policy changes.
Wichita (Kansas) is still in the early stages of the planning process. Community leaders worked out a five-year strategic plan after completing a workshop with Dan Burden. Wichita is in the process of electing a new mayor, so the community assessment will have to account for that change in leadership by incorporating more community buy-in. As the city is politically conservative it will be important for Wichita’s leaders in the cause to show some action before additional planning can be completed.
Maintaining Momentum Through Changing Political Leadership
Karen Cooper, AARP Georgia associate state director for community outreach, offered insight into the unique situation of Macon Bibb County, Georgia, which is undergoing a merging of the Macon and Bibb county governments. Cooper spoke about how AARP Georgia is working to maintain momentum on the age-friendly initiatives in Macon Bibb County through the shifting political leadership that is occurring.
Kelly Stoddard Poor, AARP Vermont associate state director, also presented on maintaining momentum through changing political leadership. She said it is important to focus on long-term goals, while also being mindful of short-term campaign goals that depend on which leaders are in office at the time. She offered advice about effectively using grassroots advocacy and the media to raise awareness of the age-friendly initiative.