AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. The AARP Livable Communities initiative helps towns, cities and counties nationwide to become more livable for residents of all ages.

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Q & A:

  1. Name one unique fact about your organization that others might find surprising. Although AARP was founded in 1958 as the American Association of Retired Persons, aging and retirement has changed so much since then, and our membership is made up of people age 50 and over (not 65 and over as some think) that we now go by simply AARP. Today, AARP has offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  2. What is your vision of a “walkable” future? Nearly eight out of 10 people over the age 45 want to “age in place” by continuing to live in their own homes and a full 80 percent believe their current community is where they will always reside. However, with millions of boomers approaching their 70s and many not being able to drive or afford the costs of owning a car, communities need transportation alternatives for residents who don’t or no longer drive. Walking is a healthy, affordable, sociable transportation alternative.
  3. Name one project that you hope to achieve in 2015 to meet your organization’s vision. Among the ways we work locally is to host Active Living Workshops where AARP staff and volunteers, and specialists from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute (WALC) lead a community walk audit in a particular city, town or neighborhood and make specific recommendations for what residents and local leaders can do in both the near and long-term to make the community more livable and walkable. By year’s end we’ll have completed eight workshops in 2015.
  4. Using only five words, how would you describe AARP Livable Communities? How about four big words and three small ones? Livable Places for People of all Ages
  5. Name one project that you are most proud to accomplish in 2014? Our website org/livable and our monthly e-newsletter were revamped and relaunched – and the results earned us first place and finalist awards for “Best e-Newsletter” (in one program we tied with Architectural Digest) and best microsite or specialized website. These two platforms help spread our message about walkability by posting interviews with experts and providing “how to” resources.
  6. What EBW! monthly theme has resonated with your organization and why? Definitely July’s “Intergenerational Walking” theme. Although our focus is on the needs of older adults, our desired outcomes truly are for people of all ages. After all, a street that’s made safer for an older adult to cross is also safer for a child walking to school, a parent pushing a stroller, a bicyclist, a jogger, a commuter, a shopper. In other words, a walkable community benefits everyone.