“Old really is new”

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Eye from Albany
May 2007

“Old really is new”

By Paul M. Bray

“Old really is new” exclaimed Rick Iannello, Executive Director of The Albany Guardian Society and publisher of a new public policy quarterly entitled “CCQ Capital Commons Quarterly”. In fact, regardless of age we are all riding a wave of change and are all in this together.

Iannello points out that “aging is more than old age, social security and healthcare”. In fact, the aging cohort is about fostering new technologies, developing new types of housing, re-patterning suburbs to be more “urban”, kin care and revitalizing traditional cities among many other aspects of our lives and societal common enterprise.

CCQ which I am editing is a web-based (www.albanyguardiansociety.org) and print publication dedicated to having informative and thought provoking articles on various aspects of how the aging population is redefining itself and intersecting in and changing our community.
The first issue of CCQ has articles on high tech having a significant impact on the development of age targeted technologies, the role of the nonprofit sector in economic and social development planning, accessory housing to address an intergeneration housing crisis and a re-patterning of a first generation suburb for environmental, social an health purposes. Each shares a common theme of changing needs and means to accommodate these needs.

Taking academic bio-tech and IT research to market is the economic model of our time. Public money is flowing into academic institutions to build up their research capacity with the hope of seeding tech economies with plenty of jobs generating tax revenue. There is the sense of crap shot in our global economy as there are many reasons why tech research, for example, at world class research facilities like GE’s in Niskayuna and IBM’s in Westchester does not generate jobs and tax creating production. On the other hand, in our post industrial world, what other options do we have?

In the first issue of CCQ R.P.I. Prof. William J. Foley in his article “Aging Through Technology: Market Opportunities and Linkages” helps us understand the efforts “to unleash the potential of technology for innovative development across the continuum of health care, housing and services for the aging”. Prof. Foley points out placing health care technologies into everyday lives will change our current health care institutional system forever.

To effectively realize the benefits from age targeted technological research and probably any socially targeted tech research, new levels of collaboration will be required between institutions of higher education, medical institutions, the business sector, providers, advocacy and user groups and state and federal government. Prof. Foley writes “state government needs to be the force behind the formation of collaborative mechanisms”.

The nonprofit sector called “the $4 billion growth industry that cares” in the Capital Region needs to be a big part of the aforementioned collaboration. Dr. Judith R. Saidel from Rockefeller College explains this in her CCQ article, “Lessons Learned about Nonprofit Sector from Austin, Texas”. One lesson Dr. Saidel identifies is “that the stakes in high tech economic growth for community well-being are enormous for all community members, including seniors.”

Land use regulation is responding to our changing expectations and needs, as Albany Law School Associate Dean and Government Law Center Director Patricia Salkin and Town of Colonie Supervisor Mary Brizzell explain in their respective CCQ articles.

So-called Euclidian zoning separated land uses (where we live, where we work and where we shop and recreate) and led to the post World War 11 suburbanization of the nation. As the aging sector and environmental, social and health expectations grow a demand for more urban communities is taking shape. CCQ is a vehicle for looking at how this change is taking place and opportunities it offers.

Dean Salkin explains in “Act Now: Accessory Dwelling Units Can Aid in Intergeneration Housing Crisis” how local governments can use their land use authority to meet basic housing needs that span three generations: aging parents; middle age homeowners with rising tax and energy costs and 20 something children struggling to achieve economic independence. She declares, “An intergenerational approach to housing through accessory dwelling units for family members may enable any one generation to ‘host’ another generation, enabling all to enjoy the interdependence of home ownership.”

On a townwide basis Colonie Supervisor Mary Brizzell responded to “an evolving awareness about how the decisions we make about land use and transportation affect our natural environment, our social environment and our physical health.” With a new comprehensive plan and zoning regulations Supervisor Brizzell writes in “Changes in Suburban Land Use Pattern” about transitioning to “a more village like development, where people can walk from the pharmacy to the coffee shop”.

CCQ is designed to be a resource for understanding our changing world and to foster a higher level of informed conversation not only about the Albany metro area but all regions with similar phenomena. Check it out on the web.

Paul M. Bray is an Albany attorney. His e-mail address is pmbray@aol.com