(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 327: What Makes and Age Friendly Place?
This week we’re joined by Danielle Arigoni, AARP’s Director of Livable Communities. Danielle chats with us about how AARP is working in every state to help cities become more age friendly, how the pandemic is affecting older Americans, and how we can think more holistically about aging in place.
Below is a full (unedited for now) transcript of the show.
Jeff Wood (1m 31s):
Danielle Arigoni welcome to the Talking Headways podcast.
Danielle Arigoni (1m 37s):
Thanks so much, Jeff. Glad to be here.
Jeff Wood (1m 39s):
Well glad you’re here with us before we get started. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Danielle Arigoni (1m 43s):
Sure. In my current role, I am director of livable communities at ARP. I’ve been here for about three, almost three and a half years. Prior to that, I worked for a good long time in the federal government, both at us department of housing and urban development. And before that at EPA always kind of at the intersection of land use and housing and transportation and environment and equity and all those good things. I’m a planner by education. So I went to university of Oregon with a degree in planning there and then later on to Cornell for a degree in planning there too.
Jeff Wood (2m 13s):
Cornell is such a popular school for planning an undergrad program and a grad.
Danielle Arigoni (2m 17s):
Yep. Great, great folks that will come out of there.
Jeff Wood (2m 20s):
Awesome. What got you interested in cities and housing and transportation and being part of that conversation?
Danielle Arigoni (2m 27s):
Sure. Yeah. I kind of stumbled upon the topic at undergrad at university of Oregon. I went as a sociology major, I think inherently, I was kind of curious about people and how they interact with one another, but the land use part of it, I think was planted in my brain at an early age. I actually grew up on a ranch at the outskirts of San Jose back when there was still some agricultural land today and come from a long line of California, ranchers and farmers and whatnot. And I distinctly remember around nine 10 when the suburban kind of sprawl began to encroach our ranch and ultimately frankly, forced us to sell. And it was slated for a research and development park and ultimately ended up being more subdivisions.
Danielle Arigoni (3m 8s):
But I think that intersection between how these two land uses are in conflict, frankly, when they’re poorly designed really made it lasting impression on me. And then when I grew to understand more how land use has such an incredible effect and impact on people’s daily lives and how we interact with one another, I think that’s where it all just kind of came together.
Jeff Wood (3m 29s):
Yeah. The story of San Jose and the Valley down there is just kind of a bummer when you think about it, you know, there’s been so many books written about it, but you know, all of the orchards that are gone, all the ranches that are gone, it’s just, it ain’t always me.
Danielle Arigoni (3m 42s):
It breaks my heart. It, you know, famously is called the Valley of heart’s delight. And now it’s, you know, this Valley of, of heartbreak. And I grew up literally between a cactus field, which sounds weird that it’s harvested for prickly bears. And then the other side of me was an apricot orchard, which is quintessential California, Silicon Valley agriculture. And that’s all gone now. So yeah, it really is a tale of what went wrong. I think particularly given, you know, the single use zoning that was in place for much of San Jose history, the auto dependent way in which it grew, you know, there’s some bright spots on the horizon now in terms of downtown San Jose, but still it’s, it’s a tough road to look back on. Yeah,
Jeff Wood (4m 19s):
For sure. So I’ve done work with ARP livable communities before we had Rodney Harrell on, on episode 71 of the show to talk about the livability index, but perhaps you could tell us a little bit more about the program and the public policy Institute as a whole.
Danielle Arigoni (4m 32s):
Sure. So I don’t sit in the public policy Institute. I sit in the community state and national division. And what that means is that we support our 53 state offices to do their work. So that’s, I think an unexpected and undervalued and underappreciated element of what ARP does is we actually have a state office in every single state plus DC, Puerto Rico and Virgin islands. And the way that the livable can use work has really unfolded. I think over the last several years is doing no small part to the leader of our group, actually, who is a former planner herself who really sees the value in supporting communities where they’re at and making these decisions and recognizing that there’s a lot that needs to be done in order to help people live their best lives at every age.
Danielle Arigoni (5m 15s):
So what we’ve been doing over the last 10, 12 years is really learning from what our state offices have been able to pilot at the local level. And we saw things like early interventions in place-making and pop up bike lanes really grow and blossom. And that has now risen to the point where for the last three years, it’s been a strategic priority for our organization and where we are increasingly able to reach local leaders through our weekly newsletter or through our publications. And most importantly, through our state offices to really help support them where they’re at in making better decisions around housing, our decisions around transportation in public space and more
Jeff Wood (5m 54s):
So if we go up to the even higher level, what is AARP? Because there’s commercials about AARP, you get mailers at certain times in your life. People get frustrated that they get mailers at certain times of their life when they don’t think they should be getting a mailer from an AARP, what exactly is a ERP and what is it for? What does it do? I think there’s probably some misconceptions out there about what it is.
Danielle Arigoni (6m 15s):
Well, absolutely there, I’m glad you asked that question. So first of all, we represent 38 million older adults. We are an advocacy organization and we are really poised to support and empower people to live their best lives at every age. So we both advocate on behalf of older adults and that really runs the gamut from social security to advocating for older adults in the stimulus bills that came out all the way down to much more sort of organic locally based issues around pedestrian safety and housing quality and things like that. We are also a membership organization as you point out. So we do provide information resources and the famous discounts that come with the air card. But that’s the broad landscape on sort of how can we improve the lives of people individually?
Danielle Arigoni (6m 58s):
One by one? I think the local authorities work is a recognition that we can’t actually do that very well. If we are creating places that allow people to live well, have options, have choices and have safe and accessible places in which to live out. We hope their best lives really.
Jeff Wood (7m 16s):
Yeah. And the placemaking part seems so important because as folks get older, there’s changes that happen in their lives. What are some of the changes that people can experience when they are getting older and hopefully, you know, aging in place?
Danielle Arigoni (7m 28s):
Yeah. Well, you just hit on. I think what for me is the crux of this whole issue is we are actually as a country aging. And then of course that’s no surprise. We’re all individually aging, but what’s different about what’s happening now is that we’re actually approaching a demographic tipping point in 2034. We will be a country, comprised more people over 65 than under 18 for the first time ever. And that really causes us to look at the kind of communities that we’re building now and ask are they being built in ways that help people adjust to those changes as they come? And if we’re not doing it now, do we expect that we’ll be doing it better in the future and the answers we’re not going to get there unless we start making decisions now. So some of the changes that we think about in particular is mobility is a huge one.
Danielle Arigoni (8m 10s):
Obviously I think everyone on this podcast, particularly listening to this podcast would understand that we know that older adults outlive their ability to drive from anywhere from seven to 10 years. And that for older adults who are no longer able to drive and who have no other alternatives that can really mean in some cases, a death sentence is overstating it, but not too much. We know that that really contributes to increased isolation, which has very real health effects. It’s actually the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and it contributes to about a 50% increase in dementia. So the effect of being isolated by virtue of not having transportation really does affect physically and mentally the health condition of older adults.
Danielle Arigoni (8m 53s):
There’s a whole other sort of body work around housing and the degree to which our housing market is equipped for the kind of changes that we can expect. And I think everyone expects that, you know, things like vision deteriorate over time or perhaps stamina deteriorates over time. But some of the housing changes that we try to lift up the, we try to encourage, don’t just respond to people who have mobility issues or who have stamina issues or balance issues. So we know, for example, that houses that have zero step entries are going to be better for people who have mobility concerns. But we also know that houses with zero step entries are better if you’re pushing a baby stroller or pushing a grocery cart.
Danielle Arigoni (9m 35s):
So, you know, some of the changes that we look for in communities that respond to the needs of older adults actually really benefit everyone. And that’s kind of at the heart of our liberal community’s work is we’re trying to create places both inside the home and out in our public space that are more attentive to the needs of all ages and all abilities.
Jeff Wood (9m 55s):
This might sound like a silly question, but you talked about that tipping point in 2034. I’m wondering if the planet is just going to make us all disappear.
Danielle Arigoni (10m 4s):
Are you asking, do we have bigger fish to fry or there being problems there?
Jeff Wood (10m 8s):
No. I mean, you know, thinking about demographic changes and the situation in places like maybe Japan or Korea where the birth rates are lowered and older Americans are, you know, in the United States, at least are becoming a larger population group. You know, what does that mean? Is that a bell curve is 2034, the height of civilization in the United States, then it all goes downhill.
Danielle Arigoni (10m 27s):
It’s a really good question. I guess I will tell. I think, you know, we’re already seeing communities around the country that are, are seeing what this looks like in which they have more older adults than they have youth and where they see youth fleeing, frankly, because there aren’t the kind of economic prospects, which means that you don’t have these kinds of dynamic intergenerational places. You don’t have opportunities for older adults to tutor kids and for kids to teach older adults how to use their smartphones. You know, you don’t have these opportunities for young adults to provide care for older adults who might need it. So again, there are communities where we’re already seeing that dynamic in place. And I think to the credit of people who live in those communities, they recognize that they don’t necessarily want to live in a community that is predominantly older adults.
Danielle Arigoni (11m 11s):
They actually really miss and value and treasure communities that are good places for everyone. So a lot of the livable committee’s work that we see being done in communities is with the idea of creating places that work for young families, as much as it does for retirees.
Jeff Wood (11m 25s):
You talked about earlier the multiple States. I mean, all of the States that you all work in and you have offices in all those States, I was really impressed by the amount of work that was put into getting these world health organization kind of standards implemented in a lot of these cities and have reports. I mean, I didn’t even know about San Francisco’s document until I was reading the research for this interview. And I noticed most of these plans were connected to the world health organization framework. So I’m curious what that framework is and how did it get adopted and also how do you get to the point where you can actually advocate in all of these places? It’s pretty
Danielle Arigoni (11m 54s):
Impressive. I must say. Yeah. So let me, let me break that down a bit because we’ve made some changes in the last few years to accommodate the growth that we’ve seen. So the world health organization for many years has run something called their global network for age-friendly cities and communities. And in that they’ve developed what they call their eight domains of livability. And these are really driven by global concerns and feedback about what makes for an age friendly place. So a number of countries around the world are pursuing this. I think there’s something like more than a hundred, perhaps 150 communities that are part of this global network. We had ARP our, the U S member affiliate for the WHL, which means that we took their eight domains of livability. And we implemented to them here in the U S and adapted them ever so slightly, fundamentally, nothing has changed.
Danielle Arigoni (12m 40s):
The eight domains are the same across the world, but what we’re able to do as the U S affiliate is to open up a network of us communities that are committed to that future. So some communities are members of the global network through who some of the members of our network, and some are members of both from our perspective, we don’t really care so long as people are thinking about these issues and preparing accordingly. But what that means for our us network, the ARP network of age-friendly States and communities is that we have a very customized set of resources usable by us affiliates, us members who were undergoing this work. And so I’ll break down the process a little bit of what that means to be an age-friendly community.
Danielle Arigoni (13m 22s):
An age-friendly community is one that is committing to a better outcome, a better future. There’s never going to be a point in time where we check the box, give them a gold star and say, you’re done with the work. It just doesn’t happen. It’s an ongoing kind of commitment to continue to improve and respond to the needs of older adults. It’s a five-year process though. And so it really begins with an age-friendly community. First of all, getting the support of their elected leadership. They have to have a letter for the mayor or a letter from the city council or County council saying, we commit to this work. That’s the first step. Then they begin a process much like most planning efforts. Hopefully if they’re well-designed begins with listening, they do a survey of older adults. They do surveys of the community and find out what are the needs that you have.
Danielle Arigoni (14m 3s):
What’s not being met, what’s working well. And what could we do more of in year two, roughly of that process, they develop an action plan. And that’s the plan that you were talking about with San Francisco? So the best plans that we see are ones that are very clear and they say, here’s what we heard from our committee members. Here’s what we’ve got right now. And here’s what we commit to do differently. The best plans are one that have very clear objectives and activities and goals and metrics. And there’s a lot of them out there that have that. So that then sets the basis for three years of implementation work. At the end of this five-year process, then communities develop what’s called a progress report to look back on the progress they’ve made. So we have probably about 40 50 communities that have reached that five-year Mark.
Danielle Arigoni (14m 48s):
We are actually currently constantly kind of trying tell the story of what’s in those products reports, what have we seen communities like de Moines be able to achieve or Philadelphia who’ve been at this for a while because the results are pretty impressive. There’s a few things. I think that make it particularly impressive. One is in medications, particularly the smaller places, this work is very much volunteer driven. So you don’t have to be the city of San Francisco with, you know, millions of people and a huge trillion dollar budget or whatever it is I exaggerate. But in order to do this, yeah, you don’t need to do that. To have those dues work. It’s helpful, but we have communities of a couple hundred people that are developing action plans. And even just by aligning resources, by bringing diverse stakeholders to the table, by creating a vision for what they want to achieve, they’re able to achieve change.
Danielle Arigoni (15m 38s):
They’re able to materially improve the quality of life for older adults. And it’s remarkable. I think the framework that who created and that we have seen communities adapt and use, we’ve been at this since about 2012, we had a couple dozen communities back then join in. We have over 500 now. So the demand for it has been pretty intensive last few years.
Jeff Wood (15m 59s):
Yeah. It’s pretty impressive. The eight domains, housing, outdoor spaces, transportation, social participation, health services, social inclusion, civic participation, transportation, and information communication. Do you know how these were chosen?
Danielle Arigoni (16m 13s):
So who led that process? They really do sort of a global survey. They worked globally to identify what those eight domains are. What I think is interesting about them. I mean, I think I’m a planner, right? So I kind of click into and default to the built environment ones, the housing, transportation, and public spaces. But I’ll tell you honestly, that I have grown to fully appreciate things like respect and social inclusion as a domain, because when a community, it almost gives me actually kind of goosebumps to think about because when a community truly dives into that and figures out what it means to them to be a community that is respectful of and inclusive of older adults, that changes the mindset. Totally. That’s just the beginning of a very different kind of conversation that can be had in communities around the needs of older adults.
Danielle Arigoni (16m 59s):
I think there’s, there’s kind of a starting proposition that I have seen where older adults are perceived to be frail and needy and burdensome. And frankly, when you start with a frame of respect and social inclusion, that positions you very well as a community to think about older adults in a very different way, one where they are recognized for the contributions that they make to a community, whether that’s their purchasing power or their political power or their volunteer power, or just the power of their institutional knowledge and what that means for the community. I mean, it really is a game changer and how older adults are considered and planned for in the community context. Do you have an example of that? Yeah. I mean, I think what we’ve seen as examples, like a community that in their respect and social inclusion domain will purposely include and develop activities where they’re pairing youth with older adults.
Danielle Arigoni (17m 51s):
So I’m going to get the community wrong, but there’s a community in Maine. I think that specifically sought to create those linkages between older adults. So the example that I gave in a kind of a cavalier way before is truthful older adults are available and there to help read to younger kids and help them with their very basic elementary school needs. They want to contribute. They want to help. Similarly older adults really need help with technology sometimes. And, you know, kids know another way around smart phone, better than anyone. So just by creating that sort of intentional connection point between those generations, that signals a very different kind of expectation of older adults interviews that really does lend itself to a more respectful, more inclusive community.
Jeff Wood (18m 32s):
My grandmother was always fascinated by my phone, my dad’s phone, it’s called the magic box and it’s pretty great, you know, she’s like, Oh, you can do that. Okay.
Danielle Arigoni (18m 40s):
Yeah. And on that point, Jeff, I mean, I, you know, a lot of people assume that everyone has a smartphone. Everyone has high-speed internet in the home. And that is just not the case. I mean, we learned in a hard way during COVID that many, many older adults do not have high speed internet in the home, even if they did, they don’t have a computer in the home and they don’t have a smartphone. So the only way they’re getting news is through the landline. Yes. I said, landline, they still exist or through personal visits or phone calls or the newspaper or the local news. So, you know, w we just can’t sort of assume the technological reach is there for all members of society equally.
Jeff Wood (19m 16s):
Yeah. My grandmother listens to the radio. That’s how she mostly gets her news. KCBS in San Francisco.
Danielle Arigoni (19m 21s):
Well, and since you mentioned that, I mean, I’ll say that, you know, that one of the domains that you mentioned was communication and information, and that again has been a real eye-opener for a lot of age-friendly communities is an understanding how are older adults getting their news? You know, the mayor’s not going to get the news out about where vaccines are taking place by posting it to Facebook. The mayor will need to get on the local radio on the local cable news program and get that information out. And it’s the age friendly communities that have taken the time to understand that, that have figured that stuff out before times like this.
Jeff Wood (19m 53s):
Yeah. And that leads to kind of, the next question is how has the pandemic affected the ARP community overall?
Danielle Arigoni (19m 60s):
I mean, I think we all know that older adults have been hugely disproportionately impacted by COVID. I saw a statistic at one point. I’m not sure the current number, but something like 90% of deaths occurred among older adults and many of those in nursing homes. So I think this has been a real wake-up call for communities about the needs to better monitor, manage, and ensure the quality of nursing homes. But I think the other real lesson learned here has been in isolation and loneliness and what it really means to be isolated for prolonged periods of time. We’ve all had little taste of that now in the course of COVID. And I think that can be instructive of just how much work needs to be done to make sure that we’re creating forums and physical places where people can safely gather and connect with one another, because that’s the real killer.
Danielle Arigoni (20m 44s):
I mean, frankly is prolonged isolation when people don’t even know what your needs are, that there’s no way for those to be addressed. I will say what we’ve learned about our age friendly communities in the course of COVID-19 is that many of them have been able to transition very seamlessly to this new world that think about communities that used to do, you know, coffee meetings once a month, where they gathered the senior center, they’d have a speaker come in. You know, it’s both a way to engage older adults with one another, and it’s a way to get information to them. They were able to pivot that over into zoom meetings, or as I mentioned, local cable programs, because they learned that that was the way really to get the information out, to get the word out to community members.
Danielle Arigoni (21m 25s):
We also saw that where older adults had turned to their age friendly community programs or their villages to provide transportation, because once people stopped driving again, how do we fill in the gaps for that volunteer driver programs have been a solution. We saw a lot of our age friendly communities shift from volunteer driver programs to volunteer food delivery programs and prescription delivery programs. So we’ve seen our age friendly communities really rise to the challenge and rise to vacation and stepped in to address the needs of older adults.
Jeff Wood (21m 57s):
Yeah. I noticed, you know, early on during the pandemic, so my grandmother, she lives in Lafayette, which is in the East Bay and she’s 108 now. And she, yeah, she lives at her house still, but she has people that stay with her, you know, basically 24 hours a day. But at the same time when the pandemic hit, she wasn’t quite sure what the big deal was. And obviously at that age, she actually remembers her dad getting sick in 1918. So, wow. So I guess she was five years old at the time, but yeah, so it was really hard because, you know, I would go visit each week. My sister would go visit each week. My other sister would come up as frequently as possible from Bakersfield. And, you know, she wasn’t sure why we weren’t able to come visit. And then my parents, you know, they were trying to stay away because they didn’t want to give her the virus.
Jeff Wood (22m 40s):
But then eventually they were just like, well, I guess, you know what? We just need to go and visit because the social isolation is going to be even worse than the virus, almost to her mental health. And she can’t see, she lived by herself until maybe about couple of years ago. So, you know, it’s something that was interesting to me is like, it’s almost more important to have that contact and have people visiting, have people see you than it is to worry so much about the virus. I mean, obviously we are worried about transmitting it, but at the same time, like my parents, they needed to go over there else. You know, she was probably going to, you know, not be doing well. I’d imagine.
Danielle Arigoni (23m 14s):
Yeah. I will say this has forced some really difficult individual decisions to have to be made on the part of older adults and families take care of love them. I mean, there’s no right answer here, right? Like which risk exposure is greater. That’s, that’s something only an individual can make. But what I have seen also on the heels of this is an appreciation and an awareness and an interest in being able to have more alternatives for older adults in terms of where they live. So your grandmother is exceptional and probably the exception in terms of live independently for many other people in her situation, she would probably be in a congregate living facility. And yet what we’re seeing is I see to my neighborhood, you’re actually more interested in building things like ADU, where you can have an older adult living near you.
Danielle Arigoni (24m 1s):
It’s easier to provide care for them. It keeps them out of congregate living facilities. And if people were on the fence before about the value of these 80 use, I think more people are convinced now than ever that there’s really a role for them in our communities.
Jeff Wood (24m 14s):
Yeah. That’s an interesting point. I mean, housing is such a huge part of the discussion, especially here in the Bay area, but all over the country. And I’m wondering how much that discussion about ADU is catching on in other places, because I know it dominates here because of the legislation that’s been passed. And obviously you all wrote that guide book with Karen Chapple, who is a famous planner here, but, but I’m wondering how that, how much that impacts the rest of the country and, and how you all see it in your capacity from a RPS perspective.
Danielle Arigoni (24m 41s):
Yeah. We, we see a huge promise, a huge amount of promise in ADU. We did a guide. I’m not sure if this is the one you’re referring to or not Jeff, but called the ABCs of Aus and what it is. It, it breaks down in like 20, 25 pages, why and how ADU use fit in the community. And I think what we know is that based on the survey we did a few years ago, there is an interest in homeowners and building an ADU. There’s an inadequate supply of them. And we know that the three top reasons to build an ADU as was stated then was an opportunity for additional income. So for older adults, for whom property taxes are going up, and maybe it’s financially difficult to keep stay in their home or their neighborhood. So I just don’t think it can be helpful to have someone live nearby, to provide care for or to provide care for them.
Danielle Arigoni (25m 26s):
And then frankly, just not to be alone, to have someone close by whether that’s friends or family living nearby, we’re going to be doing our survey again this year. And it’ll be interesting to see if those numbers have changed based on the experience of COVID. I suspect that they have, because there’s a real opportunity, I think, to think differently about housing. We know that people want to be able to age in their community. Our surveys say that upwards of 75% of people want to be able to do that, but less than half of the people in our survey say, they think they’ll be able to. So for those people that can’t age in their home and they want to stay in their community, 80 user great option to provide an alternative to do just that, particularly in places where there are so few non large single family homes to choose from.
Jeff Wood (26m 12s):
Yeah. And I think most of the listeners of the show will know kind of, you know, what an ADU is generally, but it’s always interesting to talk about the different forms they might take. And I think your guide is really good at kind of pointing that out in terms of, you know, it might be a garage, it might be a second floor. It might be a secondary unit. It might be a granny flat. It might be this, that, and the other thing. So they can take so many forms. And I think this discussion about, you know, housing and density and bulk and all that stuff kind of pushes out an actual, real discussion about who we’re actually trying to house. Right. And so I think that’s part of the discussion as because, you know, we have these, these really ridiculous drag-out knockdown fights about housing, but we’re not talking about who we’re trying to connect that housing with.
Danielle Arigoni (26m 52s):
I was a hundred percent agree. And I think that’s a big part of why we with this guy, this is maybe used to kind of put the human face on it and to create a little bit more understanding your pool really benefits. And I’ll be honest, you know, it can be the older residents in the community who are the most invested in keeping things exactly as they’ve always have been. And I don’t want to, you know, sort of undersell that point or misrepresent that I’m not saying that’s always the case, but it can be. And so it was definitely important then that we, as ARP came out to say, here’s a different way to think about it. You know, let’s think about if you want to stay in your community, where would you go? How could you stay in your community better yet, if you want to have a caregiver live nearby, what are the options for that person?
Danielle Arigoni (27m 34s):
What can they afford to live? Let’s make it about you as the older and your needs. Because when we unpack it in that way, it gets us to the table where we can all see some common solutions. And I think in many ways that is emblematic and a good example of our age group work as a whole. When you think about what are the challenges that you face as an older adult, you know, you walk out the door and cars are driving too fast, so it makes you feel unsafe as a pedestrian. Well guess what lots of people are experiencing that same effect. So how can we as a community help to change the condition so that your life is better and along the way, we’re also making life better for other people too,
Jeff Wood (28m 14s):
Along those same lines, in terms of the housing discussion. I mean, there’s also this whole discussion and you mentioned it kind of briefly, but the idea that people can either age in place or they can move, but then there’s this other discussion about downsizing or moving houses because of that, how much impact is the size of a place have on people’s need to move? I mean, sometimes if you have a two story house and you can only live on the first floor, for example, that upstairs becomes kind of a burden.
Danielle Arigoni (28m 39s):
It does. Yeah. I mean, we, we’ve actually done studies that show that evaluate what are the kinds of conditions or what are the kinds of changes that people need to make to their home in order to age in place. And some of those really troubling and problematic conditions are things like master bedroom on the second floor bathroom on the second floor, hallways and doors that are too narrow. There are some things that just are really hard to fix to be perfectly honest. I mean, it’s difficult to move to have your only bathroom beyond the second floor and nothing on that first floor, but through our guide, another resource that we created called the topic guide, we talk about what are some big changes like that that might be called for, but also maybe are there smaller changes that can be made inside a home to make it a better fit as well?
Danielle Arigoni (29m 22s):
Some of the things that we talk about again, using kind of knowledges brain, you know, how do you think about lighting? Where are you placing your microwave? You know, where are you placing dishes so that you minimize the risk of things falling? How can you better store things inside your front door so that when you walk in and take off your snow boots or your flip-flops those numbers that are tripping hazard later on, like are basic kind of components and ways to think about your home that are pretty low-hanging fruit that make them safer and better for all ages. In addition to a really big, hard stuff, like zero entry, doorways, and getting a bedroom and a full bathroom on the first floor, all of those things are needed.
Danielle Arigoni (30m 4s):
Let’s start working on it earlier than we actually need them in our home.
Jeff Wood (30m 8s):
I watch a lot of HDTV and a lot of the home renovation shows, I feel like you need some sort of like a magic elf in the corner talking to some of these people sometimes because of the choices that they make. I know it’s mostly the homeowner that makes these choices, but sometimes it can be a little bit frustrating to watch them. And especially, you know, when you have those open plan places where people put their dishes and things like that, and it’s like, that might fall on you. It’s also going to get dusty the things where, you know, you want some universal design that you see a step in some places. I wonder if that’s a show that you all would be interested in producing, like, you know, VH1 used to have that pop-up video, where they had like the little beggars on top of, yeah. Maybe something like that,
Danielle Arigoni (30m 49s):
Tell you what we have something kind of like that we actually have a store called home fit AR it’s an augmented reality tool in the app store that lets it only works on Apple phones right at the moment, but it lets you hover over your room. And what it does is it’ll ask you questions about, you know, is that a roll under sink for your bathroom? For example, you know, it kind of maps you through a few different elements of a home fit home in three rooms in your house. So that’s not quite a pop-up video, but we’re getting there. But if that’s exactly right, I mean the whole point is like, I know it’s really difficult and people are not prone to think 20 years down the road. Cause that’s just not how we’re wired, particularly in the United States. But the reality is that if you do think about your needs from a broader set of capabilities, even visitability who might be visiting you, that might require your home to be organized or navigable in a different way that can get you to different outcomes, area rugs.
Danielle Arigoni (31m 44s):
They’re terrible. Like I love them. I still have in my home, but I do so really, you know, fully aware that this is not an age friendly feature in a home, or if I’m going to put one down, let me, let me really Mount it solidly with double-stick tape to make sure that it doesn’t present the hazard that it might otherwise.
Jeff Wood (31m 59s):
Yeah. Well you all, you know, in addition to the ADU document, you have lots of other ones parks and you also did a zoning one with CNU. Do you have a favorite document that you all have created in the last few years?
Danielle Arigoni (32m 9s):
Oh, that’s completely unfair. That’s like, I love that. Yeah.
Jeff Wood (32m 12s):
That’s what we do. We’re unfair.
Danielle Arigoni (32m 16s):
I’ll be honest. I have a special place in my heart for the parks guide and it’s called creating parks and public spaces for people of all ages. And we did it with trust Republic, land and eight 80 cities. And I love this guy so much because I love parks. I love being outside and I was not able to fully put on the right kind of lens to evaluate how parks are or are not working for people of all ages, all abilities. And this guide is designed to do exactly that. So it actually provides six or seven different tools, including the livability index that we talked about at the top, but also does things like uses the park serve tool and uses our walk audit tool that put information and tools in the hands of local leaders who can go out and evaluate parks in their community right now and come up with solutions to make them better for people tomorrow.
Danielle Arigoni (33m 4s):
Like it is very actionable, very usable. So I’m very proud of that as well as the ABCs of abs guy. That’s another favorite too.
Jeff Wood (33m 11s):
Yeah. I liked the zoning guide. I mean, I know it’s pretty recent and it just came out, you know, maybe a month ago or so, but yeah, I mean, I like that type of stuff where you can talk about changing the community from that higher level. Not that I don’t like parks and not that I don’t like it use, obviously I do. I love all this stuff cause it’s city related urban related, but that’s really cool that you all were able to put that together as well.
Danielle Arigoni (33m 32s):
Yeah. I’m really proud of this and he got it. I can tell you, this was a two year labor of love and both Lynn Richards. And I will say that and mean it from the bottom of our hearts, we were part of this cause it went through a lot of permutations. It’s not a surprise to you. It’s pretty hard to protect nickel, speak into very accessible lay person speak. So we spent a lot of time trying to get that right. But the other part of it was that we were able to capitalize on what C and you knows works in commercial corridors and adjacent neighborhoods. We know that things like parking requirements matter a lot, you know, adjacency requirements, sidewalk, provisions, all of these little kind of interstitial decisions that get made about the public sphere or about the intersection between public sphere and private buildings.
Danielle Arigoni (34m 12s):
All of those really make the difference in terms of creating communities that feel inclusive, that feel dynamic, that feel vibrant and that are the kind of places that we all want to be. And again, when I say we all want to be, we all want to be there all ages, people of all abilities from all backgrounds. So how could we make communities that serve all of us better? That’s what that guy is all about.
Jeff Wood (34m 33s):
You also support communities through challenge grants. How does that work and what kind of projects do you all support?
Danielle Arigoni (34m 38s):
So I’m really excited and proud of our community challenge grant program. Many people might not be aware that we actually invest in communities in every single state in the country. And we’ve been doing that for five years now, we’re in our fifth year. And what we do with our grant program is to support and invest quick action grants that can really be used to demonstrate change. So we go out to communities once a year, we’re in the middle of that application window. Now it closes April 14th. And what we do is we ask them, what is it that you need? Or what is it that you’re trying to sort of demonstrate in your community, but that is part of a larger plan. So if you’re seeking to make your community more pedestrian safe, if you’re seeking to diversify your housing options, if you’re seeking to improve your public spaces or your downtown, what is one small piece or what did one catalytic demonstration of that, that we can help invest in and that we can help fund that will help you build a broader set of support for that work?
Danielle Arigoni (35m 35s):
What we have seen across the board is that our grants largely go to public space enhancements, which makes perfect sense. So we funded things like accessible bench programs, signage trails, bike racks, murals, lighting, planter boxes, community gardens, stages. I mean all of these kinds of features that they create that public space of energy and that contribute to the energy of public spaces and draw people in. I would say public spaces certainly has been our biggest category. Second category has been transportation. So we see a lot of innovation there around certainly pedestrian safety. Bikeability improving people’s ability to use transit.
Danielle Arigoni (36m 16s):
So how can you, for example, one of the really creative projects that we saw last year was I think it was called the adore program where they used recycled doors to say, this transit is your doorway to destinations. And so they use recycled doors at transit stops with information mounted on where those transit lanes are going to, to demystify. How do you use the bus? You know, if you’ve never used the bus ever, or how to use it in many years, it’s a pretty daunting prospect. How do you get on, how do you pay? How do you know when to get off? Where’s it going? When does it come? So we’ve seen a lot of really creative grants around that as well. So yeah, there’ve been some great projects that we’ve funded over the years. We have seen across the board that they’ve been very effective, both in attracting additional funding, which is part of the thing that we hope for.
Danielle Arigoni (37m 1s):
We know that we can’t build mega parks, can’t do giant projects, but our contributions can help to attract further funding or public funds. If that was, I was on the bubble, that was in question, seeing that our grants are able to get over policy roadblocks and get, get policy change, to be adopted because you’ve now made the case. For example, you know, with traffic calming techniques, we’ve, we’ve funded temporary traffic circles, we’ve funded bull bouts, temporary bike lanes. You know, once you have the data that shows that those things really work, it’s much easier to get the policy change adapted and put in place. And then finally, we’ve seen a hundred percent of our grantees say that this has really gone a long way to helping us build awareness about these issues and attracting new engagement, whether it’s from communities or whether it’s from elected leaders or whether it’s from other organizational partners.
Danielle Arigoni (37m 50s):
So I’m super proud of our, our challenge grant program this year. We’re funding it again. We have a couple areas that we’re leaning into a little bit more, one of which is COVID-19 recovery. So we want to see how our grant program can help communities to recover from the economic devastation of COVID 19. We know that our downtowns are suffering. We know that our main streets are on the ropes right now. What are those investments that could help those communities come back and come back stronger and better. And also interested in diversity and inclusion. We know that across the board, I can think of a dozen grants just off the top of my head that have really lifted up and celebrated a diverse populations within our communities, everything from a park of East African refugees in San Diego that really was built and designed with in mind with them at the table, everything from that to transit programs, that translated language into the Iraqi language so that our new Iraqi refugees could better use public transit.
Danielle Arigoni (38m 46s):
But this year we were really leaning in more and we really want to see how grants that we make can be even more inclusive of diverse populations and make the difference in how all of us fit together and work in our communities.
Jeff Wood (38m 58s):
That’s awesome. Where can folks find that? Where can they apply if they want to kind of take a look and see if their project might fit your criteria?
Danielle Arigoni (39m 4s):
So there’s a couple of links. One is arp.org/community challenge. That’s where you can find out more information about who’s eligible. What are the deadlines and how to apply. And if you’re curious to learn if your community has had a grant in the past, or yes, there have been grants of a particular type. In the past, we have an interactive map called livable map.arp.org that lets you go in and search by topic by keyword, by jurisdiction, even by population size, to see a little bit more about what we funded in the last five years, four years, rather,
Jeff Wood (39m 37s):
What’s the best place to get all these resources that you all have.
Danielle Arigoni (39m 40s):
So our front door is ARP that works slash livable. That is the place where you can go to learn more about our age-friendly network program. That’s where you can download or request print versions of our publications. That’s where you can sign up for our weekly newsletter, which I’d highly encourage our, all your listeners to sign up for. It is a practitioner focused newsletter. So at the top of the hour, we talked about some of the things that ARP as a monolithic organization does. We put out a lot of publications, our little newsletter on livable communities is very much practitioner focused. So it’s targeted at local leaders. It’s targeted at folks on the ground who are working in communities and we try to make information very relevant to them, new resources, new publications, new announcements, and the like, and that’s also where you can find through AOP to org livable.
Danielle Arigoni (40m 29s):
That’s also where you can find our interactive map links to the livability index and much more awesome.
Jeff Wood (40m 34s):
Well, Danielle, there’s so much here to learn and understand, and I appreciate you coming on the show. We really appreciate your time. Thanks so much for having me and thanks for joining us. The talking head waste podcast is your project out the overhead wire on the web with the overhead wire.com. Sign up for a free trial of the overhead wire daily, our 14 year old daily cities news list by clicking the link at the top, right of the overhead wire.com. And please, please, please put the pod. We’re going to pitch on.com/the overhead wire many thanks to our current patrons for their ongoing support. And as always, you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, overclass Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. And you can always find a traditional home at USA dot Street’s blog.org.
Jeff Wood (41m 16s):
See you next time at talking headways.