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Albany, GA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Many communities in Lee County lacked accessibility features and infrastructure to bring residents together. To address this, the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission installed recreational equipment, outdoor art and other amenities in several municipalities. In Albany, the Commission commissioned a large sculpture of a turtle to compliment the town's other public art installations. In Leesburg, it installed park benches and message boards in the community's nature park, which joined outdoor games and cedar benches purchased by the local housing authority. And in Thomasville, the Commission created a pop-up porch, which extends useable sidewalk space into on-street parking spaces. The portable porch can be transported, reconfigured and installed in different locations, allowing residents to gather for conversation and events. The popularity of the parklet inspired a local arts organization to install their own portable porches for its annual art exhibition.

Schenectady, NY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: This project enlivened an empty lot downtown with murals, ADA-compliant benches, lighting and tables featuring game boards.

Omaha, NE

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Organizers with Spark thought an unused parking lot at the head of the North Omaha Trail had potential to be something more. So they set out to turn the site into a seed archive -- a building designed to store seeds for growing vegetables, flowers and other plants. Local artists decorated the new building and project organizers installed seating for the space. The seed archive supports the nearby Healthy Roots community garden, which provides fresh produce to local families. Additionally, the archive represents a win for biodiversity, since many of the seeds stored there will grow into plants native to Nebraska, including pollinator-friendly species.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Charlotte, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: Charlotte's Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a popular place for pedestrians, but the path through the Parkwood underpass tunnel was dark and uninviting. Working with local partners, Brand the Moth gave the tunnel new life. The organization commissioned two local artists to design a mural, which volunteers helped install during a community paint day. The new artwork represents Charlotte's people, communities and nature. Residents and visitors can now take a walking tour through the mural. Project organizers say they hope the public art project attracts more people to use the greenway.

Charlotte, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Access to high-speed internet

Description: Work-from-home protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the digital divide between those with high-speed internet access at home and those without a fast connection. To bridge that rift, the North End Community Coalition began a Wi-Fi lending program. The initiative allows residents to borrow tablets and hotspot devices for up to three weeks at no cost. In addition, the coalition partnered with local schools to provide hotspots and tablets to students. To bring connectivity to Charlotte's older residents, the coalition also wired two local senior apartment complexes for free Wi-Fi access. NECC has continued to work toward greater digital access by offering technology training. In 2022, the organization hosted an event with the Center for Digital Equity where North End residents received free laptops, met with digital navigators and had the option to sign up for reduced-cost internet service.

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