When it comes to the place you and your family live, why not make it the best it can be? Livable communities have features and attributes that make them good places for people of all ages.
Check out this one-page handout from the AARP Livable Communities initiative to see the kinds of features that help make a community livable. Use tools like the AARP Livability Index to assess some of your community’s strengths and areas for improvement.
As you notice ways that your community could be more livable, there are some simple actions you can take to make it better. Here are some ideas to get started.
Make your community more walkable
How easy is it to walk from place to place is your community? Can people ride bicycles safely around town? As you move around your town or city, look at streets, bike lanes, and sidewalks and note areas that could be safer with repairs, signage, or lights. Rally friends and neighbors to support change and contact your municipal government and local leaders with your ideas for change. After all, a community with safer walkways benefits everyone from children going to school to older adults who walk for exercise. The AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit and its accompanying worksheets can help you and your neighbors evaluate the safety of the streets and sidewalks in your community — and then share with local leaders your findings about needed repairs and improvements.
Help create a safer community by getting to know your neighbors and establishing or joining a neighborhood watch program. The National Neighborhood Watch program has advice for getting started. Work with your local police department to get ideas on how you can get involved to help your community be safer. Educate children about bullying and how to prevent it. And, since safety starts at home, use the AARP HomeFit Guide to find smart solutions to make homes more comfortable, safer, and a great fit for you or a loved one for as long as possible.
Get involved in local social and civic groups
Your community likely has a number of organizations devoted to business, service, or other purposes. Whether you want to foster peace and understanding through a local interfaith group or help run the snack shack at the high school football game, there’s likely a group that can help you do so. Getting involved and volunteering is a great way to help improve your community and get social interaction, as well.
To find local groups, consult a librarian in your area or read the newspaper and look for announcements there or on social media. Ask friends and neighbors about the organizations with which they’re involved. Show up to events and find out how you can get involved. Such groups are usually looking for new members to take on certain roles and responsibilities.
When you connect with and help the people in your community, you create a better place to live. Look for opportunities to be a good neighbor. Reach out to seniors or others who may be experiencing loneliness or isolation. Consider working with a local senior center, assisted living facility, or nursing home to arrange visits or participate in events to create more opportunities for social interaction.
From a new playground to a monthly clean-up day, if there’s something that you feel would improve your community, start an advocacy, or volunteer effort. To change ordinances or advocate for a cause, educate friends and neighbors and perhaps even start a petition. Meet with local leaders and speak at municipal government events. You might even consider running for office.
For initiatives like cleaning up parks or sprucing up areas around town, spread the word and recruit volunteers. Work with local officials to find out any regulations that apply or permits you’ll need. And always engage in safe practices. For example, use gloves to pick up litter and advise members to wear sunscreen and bring water for outdoor events in hot weather.
Making your community better starts with you. By noticing opportunities and acting on them, you can make life better for everyone who lives there. Get more ideas and inspiration here.