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Readfield, ME

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Readfield's Age-Friendly Committee set out to enhance the town's public spaces and draw the community together. They purchased outdoor furniture to activate two spaces -- one outside the local public library and the other at Readfield Beach on Maranacook Lake. The beach's moveable Adirondack chairs give visitors a change to interact with each other. Additionally, the tables and chairs at the library allow residents to access free Wi-Fi service, even when the library building is closed. Library visitors of all wages can also rest there after enjoying the nearby story walk.

Milton-Freewater, OR

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: This project temporarily transformed an underused parking lot into a town plaza, dubbed Freewater Square. First, the Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance made repairs to the pavement and added electric and water access at the site. They then purchased outdoor furniture, shade umbrellas and games. Volunteers also built planters and installed a stage for performances. To beautify the plaza, project organizers also held a mural painting competition. After the transformation, the plaza hosted monthly events, including live music, movie nights, community art projects and game tournaments -- all of which gave residents a safe way to socialize during the COVID-19 pandemic. Small buildings host pop-ups, allowing the site the act as a small business incubator. Eventually, MFDA plans to revert the site to a parking lot. But project organizers say they will use ideas from the plaza activation to permanently convert a nearby vacant lot into a community market and activity center.

Ellsworth, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Ellsworth's once-bustling East End corridor had declined over several decades, with a 60 percent vacancy rate along Broadway Street. The Local Chamber of Commerce hoped to see the neighborhood rise again as a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use area. To promote its vision, the Chamber commissioned six murals celebrating local agricultural history. They also put up light pole banners and window clings with branding for the neighborhood and added benches, bistro tables and hanging planter baskets along Broadway Street. The Chamber then staged a historical walking tour, which garnered local news coverage and spurred the County historical association to consider designating the East End as an official historic district. In conjunction with these placemaking efforts, the Chamber launched a pop-up program for small businesses opening in the East End. Following that initiative, two of the participating decided to operate permanently in the neighborhood.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Baltimore, MD

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Lifelong housing and accessibility

Description: This project renovated an abandoned home. Organizers then gave the house away, mortgage free, to an older adult who has never owned a home before

Baltimore, MD

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: This project hosted a series of workshops where residents created a glass and ceramic mosaic. Art with a Heart then installed the completed artwork on the University of Maryland Medical Center's Midtown Campus. The mosaic depicts local people, houses and landmarks surrounded by a swirl of colorful flowers and features the words, We hear. We teach. We discover. We care.

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