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Des Moines, IA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: In the early to mid-1900s, the Waveland Trolley was an integral part of Des Moines' transportation system yet has long since been replaced by more modern options. The Des Moines Historical Society's Waveland Trolley Project set out to commemorate the city's rich history by transforming a long-neglected space into a walkable outdoor transit museum. The park-like setting is located on the former site of the trolley loop, where streetcars would turn around at the end of their route. The outdoor museum features benches, bike racks, panels displaying historical information and a life-sized sculpture of the Waveland Trolley.

San Diego, CA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Part of Vision Zero work to reduce pedestrian fatalities, City Heights CDC worked to create a sense of space and improve safety at a dangerous intersection. The City Heights neighborhood is an enclave for refugees from Somalia and other East African countries. Residents -- particularly those 50 or older -- often gather in parking lots and on sidewalks at the busy area along University Avenue, which home to shops, markets and mosques. This placemaking project created a safe gathering space, separated from vehicle traffic. Working with residents' input, the CDC designed the space to reflect the neighborhood's culture. They installed seating, planter and tables with board game tops and painted a mural onsite. Organizers say the space helps combat social isolation and is a catalyst for investment in the neighborhood.

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

Poplar Bluff, MO

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2023

Project Category: Trails

Description: The project will add a connector trail for walking and biking, enabling residents to get to the Mark Twain National Forest.

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