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Posts Tagged ‘urban planning’

How Can We Age Well in our Communities?

Posted in Models, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on October 11th, 2012

 Source: Place Makers via Planetizen

Photo: Julie70 via flickr CC

From Ready for the Geezer Glut? Then think beyond “aging in place” by Ben Brown:

Here’s a taste of how medical professionals are looking at the age wave, courtesy of Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, on an American Medical Association site in 2010:

The statistics are staggering. By age 65, around two-thirds of all seniors have at least one chronic disease and see seven physicians. Twenty percent of those older than 65 have five or more chronic diseases, see 14 physicians — and average 40 doctor visits a year. Situations like these are a nightmare for patients and the physicians who treat them.

Is any community ready for that?

What got me to thinking about this lately were two things. One was a timely diagnosis of the problem, especially as it applies to place, by Linda Selin Davis on The Atlantic Cities October 3 blog. Pointing to “the tainted legacy of age-segregated housing that is a $51 billion industry,” she nailed the unintended consequence of the “retirement community” movement:

We suffer from a severe lack of foresight, a shortage of personal and community planning when it comes to where and how to age. We’ve separated our elders from their extended families without replacing what their relatives might once have provided: a decent quality of life, until the very end.

The other insight feels like a solution, at least in a very targeted way. It comes from organizers of a senior cohousing initiative in Abingdon, VA called ElderSpirit Community. I’ve stayed in touch with them over the last decade because they provide one of my go-to antidotes for cynicism. Starting with few resources and little experience in neighborhood design, finance and development, they’ve assembled and successfully managed the intricate components of intentional community. And they’ve done that while measuring success against wildly idealistic standards. ElderSpirit members committed to a community designed for both physical and financial accessibility, for exploring spiritual purpose in broadly ecumenical ways and for supporting one another’s mental and physical well-being in the final stages of their lives.


Counting on volunteers to respond to those kinds of needs on a random basis doesn’t work. Some folks aren’t inclined to ask for help, so they don’t get it when they need it most. Meanwhile, dedicated volunteers over-commit and burn out quickly. The ElderSpirit answer – and the beginning of a new model for mutual support in community – is a system that matches people, skills and needs.

The community’s Care Committee established sort of a jobs bank of volunteers willing to take responsibility for tasks they felt best equipped to handle – transportation, say, or meals prep. Then they created a sort of buddy system, member-designated care coordinators to tap into the community support network. Each member was asked to pick two care coordinators, people they were comfortable confiding in and trusted to represent them. So when a need arises, the care coordinator activates the network.


Remember what Linda Selin Davis wrote in her blog post about “a shortage of personal and community planning.” That’s an understatement. Most Boomers will age in neighborhoods that are unlikely to sustain the kind of care network system ElderSpirit developed. They presume connectivity by car and exile anyone without the ability or desire to drive. The isolation that complicates every challenge in old age is designed into the places most Americans call home.

Arthur C. Nelson, director of the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, has been hammering away on this point for some time. Between 1950 and 2000, says Nelson, the share of Americans living in suburban areas rose from 27 percent to 52 percent; the suburban population grew by 100 million, from 41 million to 141 million; and suburbia accounted for three quarters of the nation’s population change.

The big push among advocates for seniors has been to build new homes and customize old ones for successful “aging in place.” Almost all of the emphasis has been on universal design, on assuring accessibility in individual homes through design and remodeling choices that make it easier to get around in wheel chairs, reach stuff in cabinets and on countertops and assure safety in bathrooms. But aging in places that isolate seniors in their homes, regardless of how easy it is to climb out of the bath tub, is not going to get at the bigger problem.  Especially in an era in which the very demographic forces that have served us Boomers so well turn on us when we need help most. Says Nelson:

The American dream of owning one’s own home may result in millions of senior households living in auto-dependent suburban homes which have lost value compared to smaller homes in more central locations where many of their services will be located.

We all should be for strategies that allow for successful aging in place. But for the strategies to offer meaningful advantages to both seniors and their communities, they have to begin with making the right places.

>> Read the full article by Ben Brown on Place Makers.
>>For an Australian perspective, check out the report Tomorrow’s Suburbs by the Grattan Institute.

Cities and their Regions: Catalysts for Change

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on June 9th, 2010

The Golden Jubilee Congress of the Eastern Regional Organisation of Planning & Human Settlements (EAROPH)

Congress Objectives and Philosophy

The main theme of the Congress is the impact of population change related to climate management and the associated issues that are being debated at an international level including infrastructure planning, water security, renewable energy and sustainable tourism.  The conference aims to draw these themes together to allow debate about their impact on the Asian Pacific rim. The key purpose of the conference will be to focus the various opinions presented by international speakers into a forum that allows for policy directions coming from the Congress to be directed to the EAROPH Executive, the Planning Institute of Australia and all spheres of Government within the region.

Local Government Caucus

A parallel session to be hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide, The Right Honourable Michael Harbison, will be conducted at the Town Hall on Wednesday, 3rd November 2010 to allow visiting Mayors and Executive Local Government Staff to address the topic of Leadership as a Catalyst for Change within the region.  It is proposed that the Lord Mayor will lead a forum of speakers during a morning session that will focus upon the need for strong leadership at a Local Government level to address the impacts of growing cities on environmental sustainability through ‘green initiatives’.  The afternoon will be devoted to inner-city inspections of buildings and sites devoted to the principles of sustainability. The conducted tour will be undertaken on the World’s First Solar Electric Bus, “Tindo”.

Student Forum

On Sunday, 31st October 2010, the combined Universities of Adelaide, Flinders and South Australia will come together to present a forum for students and young professionals.  The objective of this forum is to provide a platform for students and young professionals to raise issues and concerns related to congress themes. The guest speakers will include those delivering keynote addresses to the Congress. The forum wil be facilitated to enable students and young professionals to focus on the topics from their perspective and learn from each other.

October 31 – November 4, 2010
Adelaide, South Australia

Visit the website for registration and further information.

Urban Planet Atlas: Online Tool for Sustainable Development

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 13th, 2010

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre

© Stockholm Resilience Centre

The world is turning increasingly urban with more than 5 billion people projected to live in cities in 2030. More than 300 cities have already a population of more than 1 million and 20 megacities exceed 10 million. Urban landscapes everywhere are changing faster than we can understand the diverse forces that are conditioning these changes.  Coinciding with the “Better city, better life” theme of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, Stockholm Resilience Centre launched the first version of the online platform Urban Planet.

The platform, which was presented at the Swedish pavilion virtual exhibition, provides an innovative and attractive learning environment with interactive statistics, maps, and best practices in the field of urban sustainability. It focuses on the the close connections between social and natural systems, and on the fundamental role ecosystem services play for human wellbeing.  Urban Planet makes it possible for citizens, policy-makers and scientists to get involved early in the processes of creating a sustainable urban environment, says project leader Danil Lundback.

With case studies and real live illustrations from all over the world, the Urban Planet provides ways to involve different stakeholders in sustainable urban planning.

Read the full article.


A different way of viewing cities – paper on simulated urbanism

Posted in Research by fedwards on November 26th, 2008

Not necessarily linked to sustainability as such, this research paper discusses the interesting aspect of exploring cities through online games, such as Grand Theft Auto. This alternative viewpoint does get raised in sustainability as a new perspective regarding urban planning as a way to redesign the city to become more sustainable. This abstract was recently listed on Australian Policy Online. To view the full text click here.

Simulated urbanism and its effects on the negotiation of hyperreal cities
Rowland Atkinson and Paul Willis / Housing and Community Research Unit, University of Tasmania
Urban spaces have become blended even more seamlessly with their portrayal. Such representations are generated via a broad range of media which both influence and sculpt our sense of their constitution so that our sense of what the urban ‘is’ is inflected by a range of interpretations, atmospheres, inherited viewpoints, dialogues and scenarios derived from these media.

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