flexible Structure

The best way to predict
the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

Developing a sustainable Lifelong Community differs based on the unique assets available to you. Multiple approaches exist for structuring your initiative and its leadership team for long-term success. A key factor to consider is flexibility. The structure that works today may not be the one that carries you forward. Plan with the future in mind but be ready to change as the assets available to you evolve.  

One of the first decisions you will make to create a flexible structure is how the core team will come to agreement about goals, strategies, and day-to-day implementation. Many committees agree on a consensus model. To arrive at consensus, the team discusses the issue until it finds a resolution that can be supported by everyone, even if it isn’t each person’s first choice. The goal is to come to an agreement that everyone can live with, if not embrace. However, there can be times when the committee members cannot come to consensus. In those cases, it may be necessary to take a vote. Whatever method you decide to use, it is critical that all of the core team members:

These are some hints and tips from Lifelong Maine communities for ensuring that your structure is flexible enough to respond to changes in municipal leadership and to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Note: Below, and throughout our site, underlined text indicates a live link

Old Orchard Beach Community Friendly Connections, co-chair, Lee Koenig, receives the Spirit of America award, presented by fellow co-chair Cathy Chaisson and Town Manager Diana Asanza. 

Embed Lifelong Communities within Municipal Structure

This can take several different forms:

These approaches have benefits for ensuring Lifelong Community goals will be carried into the future. For example, Age-Friendly Eliot was tasked by the town manager with developing a property tax abatement program and reviewing Accessory  Dwelling Unit requirements. Their recommendations were accepted by town officials and passed at town meeting. As an appointed committee that earned the trust and respect of the town manager and elected officials, Age-Friendly Eliot was able to influence policy for generations to come. 

The Georgetown Trekkers was fun for all ages

Emphasize All Ages in Lifelong Communities

From birth to 120+,the Lifelong Community approach reflects the full community. Everyone can relate and be excited. For example, during their assessment, Age-Friendly Georgetown asked school children how the community could be more age-inclusive and has since developed programs for all ages, such as the Georgetown Trekkers, a summer hiking challenge customized for different ages. 

Aging Well in Waldo County leadership team

Plan for Leadership Succession

Change happens. Lifelong Community teams that strategically plan for transitions on the core team are better prepared when a leader steps away. 

Key resource on SUSTAINABLE 


Implementing sustainable change in your Lifelong Community initaitive means embedding age-inclusive considerations in the fabric of your community, in local organizations, municipal departments, and among residents. Although it  can seem daunting to achieve, David Noonan's article, The 25% revolution - How big does a minority have to be to reshape society? in Scientific American concludes that we only need to reach about 25% of the population in our communities to effect change.  After a few successful wins and some well-deserved publicity, you will be surprised at how quickly awareness grows and how excited your partners will be to join with you. After all, who can be against communities that are great laces to grow up and to grow older?

We love the work of Cormac Russell has done using an asset-based approach to develop solutions to community problems.