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Livable Communities: Excellent Examples

These field-tested projects could inspire a livability project where you live

Project proposals submitted to the AARP Community Challenge need to deliver on one or all of the following drivers for change.

While almost all of the examples noted below are part of a much longer-term community process, there are elements of each project that could fall under the timelines and requirements of this challenge. We offer the examples as thought starters and encourage you to search around our website, AARP.org/livable, for other ideas. (P.S. The A-Z Archive is a good place to start.) 


1. Improve a community's built environment to benefit people of all ages and ability levels and connect to the social environment. 

  • Helping to construct shelters and way-finding stations

  • Transforming vacant or underutilized public spaces

  • Creating intergenerational playgrounds

  • Installing traffic calming measures like circles, street trees, crosswalk enhancements, etc.

  • Supporting volunteer driving programs

  • Projects to improve housing that supports people to age in place
  • Pop-up projects to highlight positive changes that communities can make to roadways (temporary or permanent bike lanes, roundabouts, etc.) and expand transportation options

Suitables example from the upcoming, 2017 edition of the AARP bookazine Where We Live:

  • In Jackson, Wyoming, ski poles are placed at intersections near the Jackson Hole Senior Center to help people cross the street
  • In Providence, Rhode Island, as part of a multifaceted neighborhood renewal effort, 99 basket-style planters were installed along the Elmwood area's main business district

  • In downtown Anaconda, Montana, the community hosted a "Pop-Up Parklet Demonstration Project" to demonstrate how a single parking space could be transformed into an outdoor gathering place

  • In King County, Washington, the White Center Bike Playground features a small-scale, closed course streetscape so new bicycle-riders can learn the rules of the road in a safe setting

  • In Bethel, Vermont, a temporary "better block" demonstration showed how a once thriving downtown could be revitalized

  • In Bucksport, Maine, a snow-shoveling competition helps motivate businesses to keep their sidewalks clear

  • In Washington, D.C., service-minded older residents live alongside families transitioning from foster care and others interested in living in a uniquely supportive environment

2. Expand opportunities for all residents, such as through jobs, volunteerism, educational opportunities and training.

  • Leveraging the skills and passions of community residents with volunteer program(s)

  • Helping residents of all ages by holding training and employment events

A suitable example from the upcoming, 2017 edition of the AARP bookazine Where We Live:

  • In Westchester, New York, a volunteer-run caregiving coaching program provides family caregivers with comfort and advice as they navigate the challenge of caring for a loved one

3. Drive community engagement and interaction across diverse community residents (via, for instance, efforts in the domains of culture/art, local communication, public spaces and placemaking, sports, education, well-being, healthy living, etc.)

  • Building and developing communication platforms to promote livable communities and age friendly work

  • Hosting activities to encourage healthy eating and exercise

  • Holding open streets programs and festivals to encourage people to walk and bike 

  • Building efforts to reach and collect input from citizens in creative ways

  • Organizing pop-up/tactical urbanism demonstrations to create parklets, etc.

  • Hosting intergenerational activities

Suitable examples from the upcoming, 2017 edition of the AARP bookazine Where We Live:

  • In Charlotte, North Carolina, the community launched Open Streets 704, a festival where streets are open so people can use the streets for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing and socializing

  • Also in Charlotte, Yard Art Day encourages residents of all ages to create and display art on their front lawns, balconies and — for the lawn- and balcony-less — even the tops of cars

  • In Clarksdale, Mississippi, Neighborhood Watch signs were finally installed after years of advocacy by residents, city officials and community partners

  • In Bowdoinham, Maine, the local commission on aging created a display of easy-to-use, helpful household tools

  • In Fairbanks, Alaska, artists create street art by painting the city's street-level storm drains 

Visit the AARP Community Challenge information and application page. »

Page published May 2017