Lifelong Mableton, a project of the Atlanta Regional Commission, has brought national attention to our community. Vital Pictures, a media company with a strong history of exploring social issues, visited Mableton last year as part of a documentary project being produced for PBS called Coming of Age in an Aging America. The documentary explores the issues we will all face as the older adult population grows. Coming of Age in an Aging America is an extensive public media project aimed at creating conversation and action to productively shape America as an aging society.
The documentary takes a look at efforts to redesign communities that promotes social engagement, are walkable, and offers services and a sense of place for a diverse intergenerational population. Particularly as Baby Boomers age, the demographics of suburbs have changed. 75% of older Americans live in the suburbs. Older Americans want to stay where they are, near the places and people that are familiar to them. Yet, living in the suburbs creates challenges. One of the biggest challenges we are all so very familiar with is transportation. Suburban life very often depends on being able to drive a car. Yet, data shows most people are living 8-10 years beyond their ability to drive. The documentary examines how communities reconcile such challenges?
One of the most ambitious transformations in a suburban community trying to proactively face such challenges is taking place in Mableton. Through a program called the Lifelong Mableton Initiative, the community is actively trying to become a healthy place to live for all ages. Lifelong Mableton is one of only 14 Administration on Aging pilot projects nationwide. Launched by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), an Area Agency on Aging, it will re-shape Mableton’s traditional suburban.
ARC launched the Lifelong Mableton Initiative in the fall of 2009 to work with the Mableton community in its efforts. Mableton was one of ARC’s original Lifelong Community charrette sites. The goals of Lifelong Mableton are identical to those of any Lifelong Community: promote housing and transportation options, encourage healthy lifestyles and expand access to information and services. ARC is working with a diverse group of stakeholders in Mableton to reach these goals. Funding for the project comes through a Community Innovations for Aging in Place grant from the US Administration on Aging. It is one of only 13 communities in the nation to receive the three-year grant.
The documentary is still in production, but you can see clips about Mableton at the Vital Pictures website. Take a look — you might just see some of your friends or neighbors on film and you’ll learn a lot about how communities can be better homes for residents of all ages.