In my work, I have helped several clients develop proposals for “NORC” programs. NORC is a funny-sounding acronym that stands for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. It is one of several similar terms which describe the concept and goal of people being able to remain in their communities as they get older. So when I received a postcard in the mail inviting me to a “community conversation” on how to help my little burb become a “community for a lifetime”, I was curious.
I was surprised and heartened that there was a large turnout. Most of the attendees were of retirement age. I was hoping there would be more baby boomers there as well.
I was also surprised to learn that my burb has the largest percentage of baby boomers (almost 30%) and of people age 65 and older (17.7%) of all the cities in Dakota County. Obviously, this is something residents of all ages, government, nonprofits and businesses should be paying attention to and making plans for.
After brief presentations about transportation, city services, health and wellness, housing and in-home services, we broke up into small groups to brainstorm. I went to the group on Communities for a Lifetime since it seemed to encompass all the other topics. Our discussion touched on many subjects, including challenges faced in geographically spread out suburbs where basically nothing is in walking distance. For those who can’t drive, transportation is a huge issue. There were several energetic, creative, and intelligent people, both boomers and older, in the group who seemed willing to work as citizens and get involved.
Dakota County is embarking on this community building and planning process in different cities. This is certainly a step in the right direction. I will be following this effort in my “own backyard” and am hopeful that we can begin to make a difference for the older residents of today and of the future.