Close the Gap for Livable Communities event recap


On Thursday November 1st over 90 community members came to The Venue at the Highlander for Close the Gap for Livable Communities. An event organized by Heartland 2050, AARP Nebraska, and AARP Iowa. Representatives from AARP, the 24th Street Corridor Alliance, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. The conference was focused on sharing best practices around  the work of planning and designing communities to support an aging population and to connect those communities through multi-modal transportation options.


Danielle Arigoni, Director of AARP’s Livable Communities, gave the keynote address. Danielle discussed her role, national trends in housing for aging populations and policy goals to increase the livability to ensure age friendly communities. A major theme of the day centered around how public transit plays a large role in supporting an aging population, current efforts underway to increase connections between people and place.


Bradley Anderson, AARP Iowa State Director and Kent Sovern (right in photo), Retired AARP Iowa State Director presented about the Des Moines MPO’s Complete Streets & Better Block Project; which advocates for sidewalk and infrastructure improvement to facilitate services and ¬†accommodate an aging population. In addition, the Better Block project works towards revitalizing city blocks into interactive, welcoming areas of the city.


Juanita Johnson, President of the North 24th Street Corridor Alliance, and Aron Williams (left in photo), muralist, talked about the 24th street mural project. The North 24th Street Corridor Alliance was a recipient of the AARP Livable Communities grant. The grant supported the installation of a mural at 24th and Burdette Streets in North Omaha. The mural gave recognition to the Tuskegee Airman and created an opportunity for neighborhood engagement. Public art is one method to create an interesting walk that helps build walkable neighborhoods.


Megan Walker, associate transportation planner at MAPA shared about regional transit options and resources that are supported by members of the Coordinated Transit Committee. Megan also shared a Metro how to ride video and para-transit options.


Following presentations a panel focusing on connecting people and places was held with the following panelists:

Lisa McMichael-Ollie Webb Center

Lisa Picker-Heartland Family Service, Chair of MAPA Coordinated Transit Committee

Mark Bulger-Omaha Association of the Blind

Megan Loberg-Simmering-Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership


At the end of the day there was a recap given of the presentations and resources that helped attendees leave with a understanding of what actions and steps can be taken to move forward as a community to create an age friendly region.

Thank you to all that attended and to AARP Nebraska and AARP Iowa for their support.