Age-Friendly Sonoma County is committed to ensuring that Sonoma County is a great place to grow up and to grow old. We are here to help our cities become more “Age-Friendly” fostering health, well-being, inclusion and
participation – across the lifespan.
An Age-Friendly Community benefits the whole community.
To support this process, we are meeting with city leaders to inform them about the Age-Friendly Sonoma County initiative, learn about areas of existing natural alignment and provide Age-Friendly resources that we believe will be helpful to their planning and services.
Below are some current highlights of this city’s process…
Our First Meeting – Sebastopol City Leaders and Age Friendly Sonoma County:
Monday, June 20th, 2016
We had a wonderful first meeting with Mayor Sarah Glade-Gurney and City Manager Larry McLaughlin and look forward to further conversations in the coming months.
How will the city incorporate an on-going Age-Friendly perspective in city planning and strategic goal considerations?
“In its normal course of business, the City of Sebastopol has already, and consistently, taken a number of actions that are naturally aligned with the “Age-Friendly” initiative. These include pedestrian accessibility and safety such as eliminating City sidewalk gaps, enhancing crosswalk safety, and having a continuous assessment of neighborhood traffic-calming measures. In terms of our public facilities this includes assuring accessibility of all City buildings and other facilities, including parks. This work will continue. Recently we have encouraged more participation in the political process by live streaming our City Council meetings, for those who cannot attend in person, and having earlier start times to assist those who can and want to attend in person. We are also including the future needs of the Senior Center in the advance planning for a new civic center and library, and in assessing the City’s parking needs. These are all part of an on-going, “real life” approach, which is meeting many of the WHO-identified Age-Friendly goals.”
- Larry McLaughlin, City Manager
“Sebastopol has worked, for the last eight years or so, on shifting our in town culture from driving to walking including the Sebastopol Walks Program, Ped Line, etc. This consciousness not only protects our natural environment, it also makes life more enjoyable and promotes health, activity and outward focus. In our planning process, we look to create parklets, outdoor gathering places and "greenway" passages with the intention for "Health in All Policies."
We are very interested in health. Opportunities to exercise abound: from solo activities to group classes galore, some of which are customized for older adults and people who are less mobile (i.e. chair exercise, balance training, etc.). We love fresh, local and organic food which is featured in many grocery stores, the popular Sunday Farm Market, the Ceres Project, restaurants and CSA's. We are also fortunate to enjoy a plethora of medical services, from traditional western medicine to alternative approaches. Health and wellness services are a significant business cluster in town.
Another recognized component of health is the sense of belonging. We are a community rich in opportunities to connect and be involved, rather than suffer the isolation and loneliness that so often accompany aging. For example, there are numerous ways to volunteer time and/or offer financial and other resources including: social clubs and meet-up groups, board positions, Rotary and other civic organizations and more. We also have SEB bumper stickers which enable our residents to express civic and community pride.
People love living here - I hear that every time I canvass door-to-door. Many Sebastopol residents 65 and older have lived here for a long time – 10, 20, 30 even 40+ years! Many others researched livable communities and chose Sebastopol as the place for their retirement years. We are enthusiasts and activists and I believe that happiness has got to contribute to health and long life.”
– Mayor Sarah Glade Gurney
Sebastopol’s Existing Age-Friendly Alignment
Strategic Goals for City Planning and Development:
Age-Friendly Sonoma County has identified many of Sebastopol’s current strategic goals to be naturally aligned with an “Age-Friendly” lens. To support this process, we provided Mayor Gurney and City Manager Larry McLaughlin with Age-Friendly resources that we believe will be helpful to them.
Several naturally aligned goal areas include: transportation planning including additional bus transit stops; affordable housing improvements and development; sidewalk, traffic light and pedestrian crossing planning and improvements; maintenance and improvements of parks, recreation areas, streets and facilities; downtown enhancements to maintain and improve walkability and connectivity; expanding employment and civic engagement opportunities and more.
Slow City Sebastopol
Sebastopol is designated a Slow City (aka cittaslow) which includes the following vision statement:
Together, we work to encourage a balanced, human-paced lifestyle and to maintain a vibrant community that is environmentally, socially and economically connected, healthy and resilient.
This valuable Slow City vision and commitment to develop “community-friendly infrastructure” provides a natural alliance with the heart of creating “Age-Friendly Communities.” And “Age-Friendly Community” benefits the whole community, all citizens across the lifespan.
Current Age-Friendly Assets:
Sebastopol Volunteer Transportation Program
For more Age-Friendly Community Assets, please refer to: The Sonoma County Area Agency on Aging’s Senior Resource Guide (in English and in Spanish).
Additional Sebastopol City Resources:
Map - Sebastopol City and County Unincorporated Areas
Becoming More “Age-Friendly”
Given that adults 60 years and older comprise 33% of Sebastopol’s total population, the 2nd highest percentage in Sonoma County, it is essential that the opportunities and challenges of an aging population are incorporated in all aspects of planning and development. This is true regardless of whether Sebastopol or other Sonoma County cities decide to pursue the formal path of becoming a World Health Organization “Age-Friendly Community” or not.
Age-Friendly Sonoma County is here to provide resources and support to city leaders and a growing number of Age-Friendly community advocate volunteers. We are here to help ensure that Sonoma County is a great place to grow up and to grow old, promoting well-being across the lifespan.
Age-Friendly Sonoma County Volunteers - Sebastopol:
County Steering Committee Member – Sebastopol Representative:
These volunteers will provide leadership for the countywide Age-Friendly initiative including guiding principles for the first two years of the WHO/AARP program process.
Sebastopol Age-Friendly City Task Force Members:
These volunteers will guide the Age-Friendly process for their city. They will include city residents and other individuals who live in the surrounding unincorporated area that identifies with this particular city.
Age-Friendly Community Advocates:
These volunteers will provide Age-Friendly advocacy through shorter term, more focused and one-time activities that support the work of the County Steering Committee, the City Task Forces and other related Age-Friendly events.
To learn more about Age-Friendly Volunteering, click here. We look forward to hearing from you!