Multigenerational Planning Now

A great narrative found on the American Planning Association site on the importance and involvement of the several generations in a community to ensure the sustainability of that community. This gets us far deeper into the community discussion than the overused reference to “It takes a village to raise a child”.


#1: Multigenerational planning creates new coalition-building opportunities.

#2: Civic participation and engagement is fundamental in multigenerational planning.

#3: Multigenerational planning uses smart growth principles.

#4: Multigenerational planning applies universal design principles.

Much of the literature discussing sustainability, smart growth, and the creation of livable communities focuses on a single age group, such as the aging population, families with children, or young professionals. Multigenerational planning is a holistic approach that takes into consideration the needs of all age groups throughout all stages of planning (from needs assessment to visioning, plan making, design, implementation, and evaluation) and how government policies, zoning, and building codes can be changed to ensure generational equality and access. Multigenerational planning:

  • strives to make cities and neighborhoods accessible, safe, and inclusive for children, youth, families, adults, and the elderly;
  • allows people to age in place, be it in their homes or neighborhoods;
  • promotes civic participation by both the older and younger generations; and
  • tackles the common and specific concerns of each age group.

This briefing paper begins with an exploration of a variety of planning issues and principles related to multigenerational planning, including an overview of key demographic changes in U.S. household composition; common needs, interests, and concerns of these different yet similar populations; and the role of planners in addressing these needs and concerns. It concludes with four major key points for planners to consider when addressing the needs of multiple generations in the planning and development of healthy, sustainable communities.

Specifically, this brief explains how multigenerational planning creates new coalition-building opportunities; why civic participation and engagement is essential for all age groups; and why an understanding of the needs of multiple generations is essential to smart growth and sustainable design and development.

Thanks to the American Planning Association for a thought-provoking and evidence-based discussion!

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