SILVER TSUNAMI, NO SILVER BULLET

cheering-e1413835429397by Maggie Lyons, May 2017

 

The availability of affordable and accessible housing and transportation options for the older adult population in the United States is a critical matter for planners and policymakers. This growing segment of the population, more and more commonly referred to as a “Silver Tsunami”, has needs that must be properly planned for if seniors are to remain active, healthy, and productive—all considered key components of aging successfully. The alternative in which seniors cannot easily access affordable housing, transportation, healthy food, medical care, recreation, and social activities is likely to result in financial and medical difficulties, degrading the quality of life for the individual and ultimately putting a strain on all levels of government resources.

Within the current Denver region housing market, there is a chronic and acute shortage of affordable age-restrictive housing, particularly proximal to existing and planned high-capacity transit facilities. Despite the need for increased housing of this type and the value of strategically placing such housing near transit sites, there is seemingly a complacency or inability among key players and developers to supply this housing product.

There are many unanswered questions across the nation and within our own City that many leaders and residents, young and old, are grasping for answers to: How do we define the terms “senior” and “affordable”? What are the current status, strengths and challenges to increasing senior housing options in the Denver region? What roles can the public and private sectors can play in increasing affordable, mobility-minded senior housing?

As with the term “senior”, using the blanket term “senior housing” is ambiguous, as the term is inclusive of numerous product types. The housing market is responding to the new and continuing demand of the various senior segments, and the creation of niche markets rather than one single market for senior housing developments. While no silver bullet solution exists that will serve all, the following best practices may be a place to start in addressing this problem and answering the critical questions within the Denver region:

  1. Complete a Senior Housing Inventory and Assessment.
  2. Complete a local senior resource inventory and assessment.
  3. Revisit, modify and update policies and zoning codes.
  4. Consider incentivizing the increase of Universal Design standards and accessibility measures in all new construction, even non age-restrictive units.
  5. Consider restructuring and combining local housing and human services departments.
  6. Address the need for the increase of affordable senior housing, specifically, through the use of creative funding.
  7. Establish target sites for the development and/or preservation of various types of age-restrictive and affordable senior housing.
  8. Assist groups of seniors in developing creative housing solutions.
  9. Strengthen support around local home modification assistance programs.
  10. Form partnerships between developers and service and health providers.
  11. Advocate for construction defects litigation amendments to be passed.
  12. Respond to NIMBYism of senior housing in the community through the development of an educational toolkit for local governments and organizations.
  13. Educate seniors on financial strategies and savings opportunities to prepare for and support aging successfully.

Cities and regions across the United States are facing a critical challenge—how to meet and coordinate demands for a growing and changing senior population in housing, mobility and services.  Developers, planners, local governments, service providers and communities have many opportunities to collaborate on a range of solutions and starts with coordination and communication in order to remove established barriers to senior housing and mobility, as well as to continue to build upon identified strengths and opportunities. Individual communities and larger regions can make efforts to research, assess, and implement national best practices, as well as to pioneer creative and innovative solutions, as some communities in the Denver region are already doing. The challenge of senior housing and mobility will not be solved with one “silver bullet” solution. Instead, through cooperation and organization between many different stakeholders, a variety of solutions can be defined and pursued for the Denver region.

 

Congress for the New Urbanism Accreditation

The Congress for the New Urbanism offers a professional accreditation program for individuals seeking an in-depth understating of the attributes of human-scaled urban design. Congress for the New Urbanism Accredited (CNU-A) professionals are informed advocates on behalf of the Charter of the New Urbanism and the principles it stands for at the regional, neighborhood, and block level.

The CNU accreditation program was initiated in 2008 in partnership with the University of Miami School of Architecture. The goals of the program are to “spread and elevate our best practices; recognize the talent and commitment on display within the movement to create walkable, sustainable places; and establish New Urbanism as the standard for leaders working to build better places.” Earning the credential is a tangible demonstration to your colleagues, employer, and clients of your knowledge and dedication to improving the built environment through the practice of new urbanism.

To help prepare for the accreditation exam, candidates may choose to take the online course The Principles and Practice of New Urbanism, which is administered by the University of Miami. The course is not a requirement to take the exam, however. In 2017, the course is scheduled to be offered during the dates below. Exam dates coincide with the end of each course.

Course Dates                                                     Exam Dates

January 26 – April 20                                     April 6 -20

May 18 – August 10                                         July 27 – August 10

September 7 – November 30                         November 16 – 30

 

Requirements of earning and maintaining the CNU-A credential are as follows:

  1. Pass the CNU accreditation exam online
  2. Maintain an active CNU membership at the Urbanist level or higher
  3. Complete at least eight hours of CNU-approved continuing education per year.

 

Please consider taking the step of becoming CNU accredited in the next year.

For additional information about the process of becoming CNU accredited, please see the Candidate Guide or contact CNU at accreditation@cnu.org or 312-551

Digital Placemaking : Designing Public Spaces for Connection

How do we make it less weird to interact with strangers on the street? It is a question I ask myself constantly. I believe the answers exist in the interplay between place, design, technology, art and culture. And it is something that all communities, no matter the size, need to be thinking about.

Age five is when I officially started exploring how placemaking enhances our shared experience. The project involved wrapping multicolored lights around my porch’s railing for Christmas. I remembering begging my parents to take me on a drive every night just so I could look at it from the street. To me, it was a demonstration of the magic that can transform spaces into places.

My first successful placemaking project within a civic institution was in the sixth grade. I convinced my teacher, Mrs. Boyce, to let me wrap my desk in lights. This simple act made me excited to wake up in the morning and go to school to learn. It made school fun.

With this background, it makes sense that for the last two years I have been working with both public and private partners to reimagine spaces in our communities. Specifically, my team and I have been working on a project called OhHeckYeah; a first-of-its-kind interactive street arcade. The arcade features custom built video games that use the power of art, culture and play to build connections between strangers on the street.

The project was seed funded by ArtPlace America and brought together artists, technologists, city agencies, foundations, business leaders, business improvement districts and musicians in its construction. In fact, the Colorado Symphony scored and recorded an original soundtrack for the games.

In its first showing, the video games were displayed on three larger-than-life LED screens in the Denver Theatre District. The games were played on the adjacent sidewalks by having the players move their body, side-to-side or forward-backward, to control the characters on the screens.

In the first two months, over 40,000 plays happened on the street; connecting people of all different backgrounds, ages and ethnicities. It confirmed the research that play builds trust between strangers. It also exposed an opportunity to rethink how technology can build connection in the physical world.

After watching thousands of strangers play together on the street, I believe in the potential of this work to develop and strengthen the social glue that binds our communities together. Thought-leader, Seth Godin, in his article for TED points out that our new economy, “the connection economy,” is stepping in as the days of the industrial age begin to fade. He argues that the new productivity is the productivity of connection and this economy rewards coordination, sharing and trust.

I would argue that connection has always been an important ingredient in powering all our economies. And trust is what enables the connection to happen. But why is it so difficult to connect with strangers if it is so important to moving our communities forward?

I believe the answer to this can be found in the simple experiments of my early days. We need to design places that make people feel comfortable; where all types of people feel they belong; and by adding some magic—something they simply can’t get at home—to make it less weird and more fun for people to interact. If we can do this, then we will have built successful public spaces where people, from all backgrounds, come together.

Author: Brian Corrigan, Founder + Director of OhHeckYeah: An Immersive Street Arcade

OhHeckYeah: This Is How We Do It from OhHeckYeah on Vimeo.

CNU Charter Awards 2016 Winners

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is a non-profit organization that promotes walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. We believe that cities should be designed for people and should respect human scale and encourage human interaction. The second CNU-Colorado Charter Awards honor projects that are designed in this spirit and make Colorado a more livable place.

The CNU-Colorado Charter Awards Winners are below!

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Announcing the 2016 CNU Colorado Charter Awards

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The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is a non-profit organization that promotes walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. We believe that cities should be designed for people and should respect human scale and encourage human interaction. The first ever CNU-Colorado Charter Awards honor projects that are designed in this spirit and make Colorado a more livable place.

The CNU-Colorado Charter Awards honor a select number of winners across four categories:

  • Best Built Project in Colorado
  • Best Unbuilt Project in Colorado
  • Best Tactical Urbanism or Urban Intervention Project in Colorado
  • Best Student Project in Colorado

A jury of distinguished designers, architects, planners, and engineers from Colorado and beyond will review the entries and select the winners. Winning projects are recognized for their excellence in fulfilling and advancing the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism (http://www.cnu.org/charter) in a Colorado-specific context.

Important Dates:

  • July 1, 2016 – Announce 2016 Awards
  • August 10, 2016 – Submission Period Closes (Extended Deadline!)
  • August 26, 2016 – Jury Decision Announced
  • September 22, 2016 – Awards Ceremony in Pueblo, CO at the Annual Downtown Colorado Inc. Conference

Learn more about the CNU Colorado Charter Awards and how to apply!

Beer Urbanism: How Craft Breweries are Contributing to the Vitality of our Beloved Denver Neighborhoods

DON’T MISS THIS FUN AND FREE EVENT!!!

JUNE 29TH @ DIEBOLT BREWING CO. – 5:30-7:30PM

3855 Mariposa Street, Denver, CO 80211

Speakers and Panelists include:

Steve Kurowski, Manager of Colorado Brewers Guild

Raphael Espinosa, Councilman of Denver’s District 1

Neighborhood Brewery Reps from: Diebolt Breweing Co., Call to Arms Brewing Co., Factotum Brewhouse, and Bruz Beers

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By now, Denverites are well aware of the Craft Brew scene. It’s become a state-wide tourism feature and many of the originals have outgrown their start-up spaces. Many breweries have chosen to locate in former industrial areas that are “up-and-coming,” but what about the new breweries that are choosing to locate within the fabric of our beloved Denver neighborhoods? Why did they choose their location? What are they doing to contribute to the neighborhoods? Are people choosing to live within neighborhoods that have amenities such as small, craft breweries? Have local breweries spurred other economic development in our neighborhoods? What are the issues they’ve had to overcome? Come hear from some of our Northwest Denver neighborhood breweries for answers to these questions and more!
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See event poster for additional information details.

Small Town Planning: Issues, Challenges, Innovations, and Best Practices

In this panel discussion there will be two sessions. In the first session, we will hear the presenters talk of the issues and challenges they address daily in each community. In the second session, the presenters will summarize some of the innovative tools they have used in order to address these issues and acknowledge best practices.

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