I had the privilege yesterday of going down to Macon, Georgia to speak and learn – learn about the terrific work that the Georgia Council on Aging is doing to create communities for a lifetime and speak about the also terrific work going on in Indiana communities planning for the coming demographic changes. Cherylle Schramm, Council chair, and Kathryn Fowler, exec. director of the initiative, introduced this daylong conference attended by 150 policy makers, elected and appointed governtment officials at all levels, aging service providers, and advocates and activists from around the state. Demographer Warren Brown provided a fascinating overview of Georgia’s historical and future population changes and subsequent speakers addressed the multiple implications, ranging across all sectors of life and the economy – transportation, housing, health and health care, and local government. Good friend Kathryn Lawler, of the Atlanta Regional Commission, inspired the audience to entertain some radical and transformational ways of re-engineering communities that, currently fail to meet the needs of those who don’t own automobiles – an issue affecting not only those in congested Atlanta metro but also those in rural Georgia. She provided some glimpses into the February 09 charrette conducted by the famous architectural firm DPZ for six Atlanta neighborhoods. The charrettes produced six fascinating development scenarios for making these places truly elder-friendly. While the recession has stalled development plans in every one of the focus areas, the plans will, I am sure, eventually reach fruition.
With my colleague Mia Oberlink, we presented an overview of Indiana’s leading edge efforts to create more livable communities throughout the state, employing the AdvantAge Initiative planning model. I had an opportunity to announce some proposed legislation under development by State Senator Vi Simpson – Hoosier Communities for a Lifetime. The legislation would establish a permanent commisson that, in its first year, would create a protocol for Indiana communities to achieve formal designation and, down the line, apply for funding for transformational projects to create age-friendly communities.