We are firm believers in putting nudge theory to work within organizations. Luum is a data-driven commute benefits software solution that runs end-to-end employer commute programs and gives them deep insight into how their employees commute. We’ve seen the ripple effect that even the slightest positive behavior changes around the commute can have for an entire organization and, subsequently, its city. Over the past five years, our hometown of Seattle has seen its transit ridership grow (one of two cities in the country!) and boasts a downtown drive-alone rate that hovers around 25 percent.
Opportunity exists to reverse structural inequalities and create inclusive societies. We are now presented an occasion to take decisive action and choose the kind of cities we want to see in the future. Short-term responses limited to reactionary planning are the symptom of current urban inequalities, and puts cities at risk of leaving many residents and communities left behind. In the long run, this impacts growth.
As we navigate the tectonic shift to a digital work economy, we have to answer a simple question. What kind of world do we want? We don’t have to wait to see whether robots and software win. The pace and spread of change are already having a seismic impact on work. If we better understand what’s happening today, we can solve for tomorrow.
We’re pleased to share that applications for the third year of the program are currently being accepted. In 2017 AARP launched the AARP Community Challenge Quick Action grant program to fund projects that build momentum for change in communities to improve livability for all residents. To date, we’ve funded nearly 220 projects in every state and several U.S. territories. Grants have been given to governments and nonprofit organizations and have ranged from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to thousands for larger projects.
Litigation has long been recognized as a tool for compelling change in individual behaviors and industry standards, often serving as a stopgap where existing government regulations are inadequate. For example, litigation against tobacco companies helped raise awareness about the health impacts from smoking and played a part in spurring stricter regulations on cigarette manufacturing and marketing.
In the climate change context, we’re seeing an evolution of different legal strategies being employed to affect changed behavior and standards.
We believe the scientific evidence suggests that interaction with nature is essential to achieving UN-Habitat and its New Urban Agenda, and policymakers should explicitly say as much. If we do not build some nature into our cities, we risk creating an inhumane, grey world for ourselves. Without nature, the urban century will fail.
When we first approached business owners about their interest in getting a ramp we were offering the them for a fee to cover some of our costs. But even at $50 most people weren’t interested. Some business owners told us that they don’t need a ramp because they don’t have any customers that use wheelchairs! Ha! So we had to figure out a different approach. We pulled together some volunteers, got some donated building materials, and went back with an offer of a free ramp.
Working with a coalition of more than 260 cities to help them engage residents to solve problems, we’ve learned a few things about what makes these relationships work and what can wreck them. When they work, long-term relationships between city leaders and citizens are the foundation for the collaboration that creates strong, vibrant cities.
Progress needs to be made in the evaluation of approaches to developing resilient communities. The evidence base for the effectiveness of these approaches is currently lagging behind practice. Funding for evaluation is generally too short-term to offer scope for capturing the developmental nature of community resilience related activity and evaluations on wider outcomes are lacking.
For city residents and businesses, trust is closely aligned with outcomes. When a city creates services that consistently provide the outcomes residents and others expect and rely on, at a fair cost, then a sense of trust is earned and reinforced. Residents expect that the bus service gets them to work and back home safely and on time everyday. When that occurs consistently, they will trust and rely on the bus as their main commute choice.
For too long, that was the story of the Oak Park neighborhood near downtown Sacramento, California. Through a concerted effort by a local non-profit in the community for the last 30 years, we are seeing real change and an upward trajectory. The Oak Park story provides lessons and hope for similarly situated communities across the country.
In Columbus, Ohio, we dedicated ourselves to planning with, not for, our older adults. For us, that meant committees made up of content experts (professionals working in transit, housing, development, aging, and elected officials) and experience experts (older adults and individuals with disabilities) totaling over 125 volunteers that lead our work. Our initiative started at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, outside of the typical “aging world” in order to challenge cross-sector leaders to work with an “age-in-everything lens.” In 2016, we completed our assessment through a city-wide random sample survey, focus groups held in six languages, and tabling at various events. In total, we heard from nearly 1,200 older adults over the course of six months.