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AARP AARP States North Carolina Livable Communities

Let's talk about "Livable Appalachia"

Come get inspired! Find out from local and national leaders how to make communities more livable for people of all ages.


AARP and community collaborators in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee have joined together to create a free four-part series of virtual presentations and discussions. We want participants to create connections, build momentum, and share best practices. The goal? Developing communities in the region that vibrantly support aging safely, affordably, and well.

Session Dates:
October 1, October 15, November 12, and December 3
All sessions are free, but you must register in advance:
(828) 380-6242 or

All sessions are virtual and will include time for questions. 

Williamette National Park Trails

October 1, 10:00–11:30 AM
Our townsGrowing with Grace
The Appalachian region’s population is growing, with increasing numbers of residents ages 65 and over. New perspectives are now emerging on economic development to support aging populations and intergenerational relationships. This session will focus on strategies for smart, sustainable growth that preserves the natural assets of our land, public spaces, and culture for people of all ages.  

Keynote speaker: Gil Penalosa, Founder and Chair of 8 80 Cities


  • Brooxie Carlton, director of federal programs for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Regina Sayers, ED, Appalachia Agency for Senior Citizens. 
  • Sylvia Crum, director of communications and development at Appalachian Sustainable Development
  • Bill Slagle, state director, Existing Industry Expansions, EDPNC (Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina)
Telemedicine nursing appointment

October 15, 10:00–11:30 AM
Our connectionsCreating Broadband Networks
From online learning to telehealth, broadband connectivity has evolved to become essential for our communities. This session will focus on what rural communities are doing to bring broadband connectivity to underserved areas, and how local policies help or hinder this endeavor. It will also focus on efforts across all communities to provide low-cost access and devices to lower-income households, and to foster digital literacy among all age groups.

Keynote speaker: 
Chris Mitchell, director of ILSR (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) Community Broadband Networks Initiative 


  • Tamarah Holmes, director, Office of Broadband at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
  • Christopher Cardwell and Jill Juris Naar, Cyber Seniors, ASU
  • Erin Gill, chief policy officer, City of Knoxville
  • Jake Johnson, State House Representative, NC-113
  • Carl Caudill, director of IT, Grayson County, VA
ADU 1.jpg

November 12, 10:00–11:30 AM
Our homesAffordable and Accessible Housing
Too many communities lack housing that's safe and affordable, even though housing is central to other livability issues such as community connections and transportation. This session will explore how various policies help or hinder the development of affordable and accessible housing. Along the way, we will discuss the dynamics of community resistance as well as creative approaches that can help bring communities together. We will also look at the very real and ongoing need for programs that assist homeowners in maintaining their homes. 

Keynote speaker:
David Lipsetz, president and CEO of the Housing Assistance Council


  • Joy Strassel, executive director of the Western North Carolina Housing Partnership, Inc. 
  • Richard Duncan, Executive Director, RL Mace Institute of Universal Design
  • Regina Sayers, executive director, Appalachia Agency for Senior Citizens
  • Mayor Curtis Hayes, Mayor of Livingston, TN 
Trafficlights in the city at night time
Trafficlights in the city at night time. Urban road view with blurred bus
LeManna/Getty Images/iStockphoto

December 3, 10:00–11:30 AM
Getting there:  Transportation Solutions
Transportation provides connections to health and community services, social support, and basic quality of life opportunities during all parts of the age continuum. The topography and sheer size of the Appalachian region present unique challenges to successful transportation solutions, from transit systems and shared rides to road design and walkability. This session will take a broad-ranging view on transportation options for aging- in-place and dive into specific strategies that work in rural Appalachia. 

Speakers and panelists : 

  • Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 880 Cities
  • John Robert Smith, chairman, Transportation for America
  • Robin Hutcheson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safety Policy  at United States Department of Transportation
  • Tristan Winkler, French Broad River MPO Director at Land of Sky Regional Council
  • Michelle Watkins, executive director of the Rockbridge Area Transportation System.
  • Regina Sayers, executive director, Appalachia Agency for Senior Citizens

About AARP North Carolina
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.