Guide to Developing a Multi-Town, Regional Lifelong Community
Learning together in Surry, one community in the regional
Age-Friendly Coastal Communities
alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.
Using the guide...
For those communities considering whether a regional approach would facilitate and enhance their community outreach, this guide – it is hoped – will provide some useful considerations, guidelines, and stories from the field. Work on this Guide was facilitated by Nancy Davis, leader of the Age-Friendly Community Initiative in the Bethel area of Maine, as part of her work as a Fellow in the Lifelong Fellows Program. Six other regional Lifelong Community Initiatives in Maine and New Hampshire informed the direction of the guide and contributed their wisdom and experiences (to read more about each, go to the directory, below). The advice from these community leaders is the most valuable resource in the guide. All have agreed to answer any questions and brainstorm solutions to challenges that arise at any stage of your journey implementing a regional Age-Friendly or Lifelong Community.
Maine is a rural state, with more communities with fewer than 1500 residents than it has communities with more than 20,000. It is also a forerunner in the Age-Friendly Community Network. There are countless variations in how initiatives are organized. Some Maine communities have a natural, historical configuration of several towns working together: School Administrative Districts, community and municipal organizations, and the like. As an AFC struggles with founding principles – or even later in the game – it may find that geographical proximity and/or historical precedent suggest the value in organizing as a coalition of towns.
Bethel’s Age-Friendly Community Initiative (AFCI) was the first regional AFC in the United States, but there are now several others in Maine and New Hampshire and many of them contributed to this document. They represent a wide diversity of organizational approaches:
Regional approaches range from whole counties with 30+ communities to two communities with shared services.
Some are all-volunteer, grassroots initiatives; others are facilitated by community-based organizations
Some have representation by each town on their leadership team; others have close ties with the municipalities but without formal participation in leadership
One, the Mount Washington Valley Age-Friendly Community is the first regional approach in the United States to cross a state border, with 11 communities in New Hampshire and one in Maine.
Just as there is no single right or wrong way to organize your lifelong community work, there is no one "right" way to coordinate a regional approach. Each is different. But never fear! In this Guide, you'll find a checklist of things to consider before adopting a regional approach, a directory of regional approaches with contact information, and wisdom from the field that you can adapt to the context of your regional lifelong community.
Note: Below, and throughout our site, underlined text indicates a live link.
Developing a regional Age-Friendly, Lifelong Community requires careful consideration of a number of factors.
Learn more about the regional initiatives that contributed to the Stronger Together Guide.
Special thanks to Nancy Davis, Lifelong Fellow and Chair of Age-Friendly Community Initaitive, and the Regional Advisory Group that worked with her to develop the structure and content of this Guide: Anne Schroth, Age-Friendly Coastal Communities; Laurie Downey, Grateful UnDead; and Marianne Jackson, Mount Washington Valley Age-Friendly.