Mount Washington Valley
(communities in New Hampshire and Maine)
Regional Survey Response
WHEN DID YOU ORGANIZE AS A REGIONAL APPROACH?
From the beginning. We recognized the weakness of our municipal structures and that our service agencies, chamber of Commerce, high school, newspaper, hospital, and other major enterprises function on a regional level.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TAKE A REGIONAL APPROACH?
Resources and leaders work and think on a regional level - not by town. We also could identify strengths in one town and spread them more rapidly to other towns.
HOW MANY MUNICIPALITIES ARE INCLUDED IN YOUR REGIONAL APPROACH?
PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR REGION
The Mount Washington Valley is a tourist region extending from Ossipee to Hart's Location, Jackson and Chatham with one large municipality - Conway. The population is very mixed with low -income year-round persons in the service industries and second home owners and newly retired high-income residents with health, wealth, and the ability to volunteer and use the skills they acquired over a lifetime.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ORGANIZATION OF YOUR REGIONAL APPROACH?
Led by a local organization (Gibson Center). Comment: Gibson Center for Senior Services provides organizational support on a volunteer basis and is the fiscal agent for MWV Age-Friendly grants.
IS EACH OF YOUR MEMBER MUNICIPALITIES AN INDEPENDENTLY ENROLLED MEMBER OF THE AARP NETWORK OF AGE-FRIENDLY STATES AND COMMUNITIES?
Yes. We were told they have to be. It is not a very functional or meaningful membership. If you asked the Selectmen if they are members, about one-third of the towns would know or say yes. We are working on that by including a summary of work in every town meeting report.
PLEASE DESCRIBE ANY KIND OF FISCAL RELATIONSHIP/CONTRACT
There is none but there needs to be, however, for sustainability. The amount of work and resources (printing, advertising, website management, grant writing) will not be offered as volunteer time with a new Executive Director.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE BENEFITS AND DOWNFALLS OF THE REGIONAL APPROACH?
The benefits are the collaborations and larger impact of any project reaching across town lines. Replication and spread of impact occur more naturally and we are using natural leadership positions to set goals and reach them. I cannot imagine doing this as single towns.
WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PEOPLE CONSIDERING A REGIONAL APPROACH?
Talk first to your local leaders of service agencies - VNS, hospitals, schools, regional public health, librarians, pastors, conservationists and Recreation departments. Convince them that you are not in any way trying to tell them what to do but knit together the regional efforts and magnify the benefits and reach.
Find the fastest, low-cost goals in whatever domains you choose - announce and celebrate those achievements.
Start a PR committee from the beginning to get your name and brand out there.