So, as co-chair of the Active Living By Design Knowledge Network and EDRA Board Member I have been asked to write a blog to be posted this month. I am also a member of the Environment –Gerontology Knowledge Network because I see them very much connected. My research for the last 6 years has focused on Aging in Place and analyzing what it is about a community that makes it age-friendly. Most of my work has focused specifically on Norman, Oklahoma where I live and the location of the University where I teach. The papers I’ve presented at EDRA conferences for the last 4 years have focused on aging in place and it has brought about some great discussion with other researchers--both student and faculty researchers. What makes EDRA such a great organization is the fact that those who participate in those conversations come from all different professional and academic backgrounds: architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, planning, environmental design, and communications to name just a few. Out of these discussions has come collaboration for intensives which looked at many different aspects of defining and designing age-friendly communities above and beyond just the home design. I must say that this process has broadened the horizon-line on what is needed to create these age-friendly environments.
Now the one thing that has been disappointing is the lack of conversations generated in the Knowledge Network environments. Part of that is my fault. I admit that I did not really work at generating discussion in either network and that is my goal for this next year. I look forward to getting interest and discussion generated online as well as at the conference. If any of the members of these networks have any insight into how to get more input from Knowledge Network members, please let us know. I feel we have generated lots of interest in these topic area interest groups in seeing how the network memberships have grown. How can we capitalize on the membership growth in supporting each other’s research and the quality of the outcomes of this research in terms of the presentations and intensive participation at the conferences? Can the Knowledge Networks play a role in this process? I look forward to seeing everyone at EDRA45NewOrleans and carrying this discussion on face to face.