Photo by Eric Kruszewski for AARP
AARP has found that the best way to implement livable community strategies is to find, inspire and equip citizens and local officials to lead the way. The successful implementation of a livable communities plan often begins with a workshop that engages key stakeholders. AARP state offices have helped organize and promote several such events.
The report Engaging Community: Strategies for Involving the Right Players in Developing Livable Communities shares specific experiences from AARP Kansas, AARP Vermont and AARP Arkansas. Reading about those case studies can help community planners and local leaders determine how to best use community workshops to engage stakeholders who are interested in creating a livable, age-friendly community.
A successful workshop typically involves:
1. Engaging the right players
It's important to reach out to a wide range of potential stakeholders, including elected officials, government staff, non-profit organizations, citizen activists and other groups and individuals representing multiple categories and focus areas (such as health, biking, sustainability, transportation, planning, parks and recreation, and so forth).
2. Focusing on a topic or specific area
There are many ways to make a community more "livable," but finding a key "hot button" concern to frame the effort is better than trying to be all things to all people. For one community the area of focus might be pedestrian safety while another may see obesity prevention as its most pressing need.
3. Targeting a quick "win"
The goal here is to do something immediately after the workshop, ideally within 100 days, in order to generate community interest and maintain momentum. (The 2017 AARP Community Challenge provided funding for several dozen such "quick action" projects.)
Report published Fall 2013
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The AARP Roadmap to Livability Collection (shown below) is a hands-on, six-part, how-to series full of strategies and solutions that make a community great for people of all ages. Download or order the collection for free!