The evolution of community is every generation’s project.
One of the main themes that has emerged strongly for me, through the nearly seven years of this blog has been what I have categorized up to now – aging and community design. Part of that story here has pivoted around the Age-Friendly Cities movement as proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007.
However, ten years on, given that world events have changed so much, it is no longer enough to discuss the future design of cities, towns and villages within the dimension of aging demographics as interpreted through Age-Friendly, without talking about other factors that really are of an inter-generational concern.
For example, alternative, affordable, or accessible housing, (however you call or frame it), is of keen economic interest to everyone lately, in the whirl and twirl of the Canadian real estate market. In this case, it is truly an age inclusive issue, even though the impact may have different context for each generational cohort in their own life stage situation, there may be shared, similar concerns based on their socioeconomic status and their ability to find work and pay the bills.
Setting the tone for age-inclusive
As I say in my new website narrative, often when we hear the term age-friendly community, it runs the risk of sounding like tokenism – a dialogue in a seniors-centric bubble. If you want to engage a broader audience to contribute to the conversation, I would strongly suggest we drop the word seniors. On top of this, we need to overlay the conversation by recognizing that there are also differing perspectives within the multi-cultural make up of our communities in Canada.
Recoding a longevity society. One of the areas we need to recode our thinking and set the tone for the next decade and beyond, is messaging the universal relevancy of a global Age-Inclusive movement – for those generations who are fast becoming caregivers to our elders while at the same time they are the future beneficiaries of the community design choices we make today.
In these current times, if we have any discomfort about the disruption around, well, just about everything, it’s to some degree because we’re still using old terms of reference while we are trying to recode the social norms we’ve lived with over the last six decades until now. The way we see the communities we live in is changing, and new language is emerging in that recode of our social systems and policies.
In community design, we need foresight to include inter-generational hubs for life, work & play and consider multiple variations on sustainable housing options for everyone. At the same time, we should continue to study and learn from other initiatives taking shape in communities around the world, and that is what I will continue to do.
Meanwhile here are some links from a few previous blog posts that highlight this topic area.
Photograph – Urban landscape, Japan exhibit at Venice Biennale 2011