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Eufaula, OK

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of Eufaula hoped to draw people to local businesses by increasing foot traffic on Main Street. To do this, the City created a music trail downtown. They installed 11 pairs of outdoor percussion instruments -- including xylophones and drums -- along a half-mile pathway, which winds past community landmarks. Additionally, project organizers displayed a map to inform passersby of the location of each instrument. The project is part of larger efforts to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased social isolation among residents and left local businesses -- including many owned by Native community members -- struggling to stay afloat.

Lynn, MA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: While downtown Lynn offers shopping and dining, the city offers few recreational opportunities for older adults. To address this, the City of Lynn has made improvements to the downtown district to make the space more appealing to older residents. First, project organizers created a parklet near Lynn Commons, turning an on-street parking space into a mini-park with benches and shade trees. They also made roadway improvements, including adding curb cuts to make sidewalks safer and more accessible. Finally, they worked with a partner organization to hang 80 large-scale murals. Since the improvements, the City launched a series of walking tours featuring the murals, which are installed throughout the community.

Gary, IN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Residents of Genesis Towers -- an affordable housing complex for older adults -- often congregated in a vacant lot in Gary's downtown. This project set out to activate the lot into an accessible gathering space. Local students worked to gather input from residents about their hopes for the new park, and the City held design workshops. Plans for the space featured ADA-accessible walkways, seating, picnic tables and raised garden beds. Organizers also worked to provide free Wi-Fi access in the space, as well as a bike repair station. Organizers say the park is designed to host free or low-cost events -- part of the overarching goal of combatting social isolation through innovative public spaces.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Chicago, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: The El Paseo Community Garden in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood added a new gathering space, dubbed El Convivio or The Gathering. The goal of the project was to make the garden more accessible to Latino older adults living in nearby apartment buildings. Improvements to the space include an outdoor kitchen and patio with a fire pit, ADA-compliant seating, walking paths and an accessible planting station. Planters at the site were specifically designed to grow culturally relevant produce, including tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions. The picnic area's stucco and ceramic tiles mimic designs seen in Mexican haciendas. Garden leaders partnered with nonprofit architectural firm Human Scale to involve garden members in the space's design and volunteers from the neighborhood installed the new amenities. As El Paseo's leadership finalized El Convivio, they also worked with the City of Chicago to secured additional land to expand the garden.

Chicago, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Innovative home maintenance, repair and support services

Description: As part of efforts to provide affordable housing in Chicago, Elevate Energy set out to help an older adult homeowner renovate her two-unit building. The owner would be able to safely age in place in one unit, while renting the other unit out to a family in need of affordable housing. The improvements focus on accessibility upgrades and addressing deferred maintenance -- making the building less costly to keep up in the future. Project organizers rewired the entire building and replaced the roof -- improvements that helped project organizers attract funding from other sources to complete the renovation. They hope to use this project as a case study to demonstrate the potential for two-flats to enable aging at place and provide below-market rental housing.

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