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Free Four-Part Series Examining Ways to Make the Appalachia Region Better for All Ages

To help improve Appalachia cities, towns and rural areas, AARP and community collaborators in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee are holding a free four-part series of virtual presentations and discussions aimed at making the region more vibrant for people of all ages.

Participants will hear from state and national community planning leaders, create connections, build momentum, and share best practices to support development in the Appalachia region that promotes safety, mobility, affordability, and wellness.

All of the sessions are free, but registration is required at:
https://aarp.cvent.com/LivableAppalachia or by calling (828) 380-6242.

October 1, 10:00–11:30 AM
Our Towns:  Growing with Grace
The Appalachian region’s population is growing, with increasing numbers of residents ages 65 and over. New perspectives are now emerging on economic development to support aging populations and intergenerational relationships. This session will focus on strategies for smart, sustainable growth that preserves the natural assets of the land, public spaces, and culture.  

Keynote speaker: Gil Penalosa, Founder and Chair of 8 80 Cities


• Brooxie Carlton, director of federal programs for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
• Regina Sayers, ED, Appalachia Agency for Senior Citizens. 
• Sylvia Crum, director of communications and development at Appalachian Sustainable Development
• Bill Slagle, state director, Existing Industry Expansions, EDPNC (Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina)

October 15, 10:00–11:30 AM
Our connections:  Creating Broadband Networks
From online learning to telehealth, broadband connectivity has evolved to become essential for our communities. This session will focus on what rural communities are doing to bring broadband connectivity to underserved areas, and how local policies help or hinder this endeavor. It will also focus on efforts across all communities to provide low-cost access and devices to limited-income households, and to foster digital literacy among all age groups.

Keynote speaker: 
Chris Mitchell, director of ILSR (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) Community Broadband Networks Initiative 


• Tamarah Holmes, director, Office of Broadband at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
• Christopher Cardwell and Jill Juris Naar, Cyber Seniors, ASU
• Erin Gill, chief policy officer, City of Knoxville
• Jake Johnson, State House Representative, NC-113
• Carl Caudill, director of IT, Grayson County, VA

November 12, 10:00–11:30 AM
Our homes:  Affordable and Accessible Housing
Too many communities lack housing that’s safe and affordable, even though housing is central to other livability issues such as community connections and transportation. This session will explore how various policies help or hinder the development of affordable and accessible housing. Along the way, we will discuss the dynamics of community resistance as well as creative approaches that can help bring communities together. We will also look at the very real and ongoing need for programs that assist homeowners in maintaining their homes. 

Keynote speaker:
David Lipsetz, president and CEO of the Housing Assistance Council


• Joy Strassel, executive director of the Western North Carolina Housing Partnership, Inc. 
• Matt Weaver, associate director for policy and strategic development at Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
• Regina Sayers, executive director, Appalachia Agency for Senior Citizens
• Mayor Curtis Hayes, Mayor of Livingston, TN 

December 3, 10:00–11:30 AM
Getting there:  Transportation Solutions
Transportation provides connections to health and community services, social support, and basic quality of life opportunities during all parts of the age continuum. The topography and sheer size of the Appalachian region present unique challenges to successful transportation solutions, from transit systems and shared rides to road design and walkability. This session will take a broad-ranging view on transportation options for aging- in-place and dive into specific strategies that work in rural Appalachia. 

Speakers and panelists : 

• Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 880 Cities
• John Robert Smith, chairman, Transportation for America
• Robin Hutcheson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safety Policy  at United States Department of Transportation
• Tristan Winkler, French Broad River MPO Director at Land of Sky Regional Council
• Michelle Watkins, executive director of the Rockbridge Area Transportation System.
• Regina Sayers, executive director, Appalachia Agency for Senior Citizens
AARP Livable Communities

Approximately 45 million Americans are age 65 or older. By 2030, that number will reach 73 million Americans. At that point, fully one in five Americans will be older than 65. By 2034, the United States will — for the first time ever — be a country comprised of more older adults than of children. AARP Livable Communities supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and rural areas to be great places for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life.

Contact Us: Livable@AARP.org