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West Memphis, AR

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The town of West Memphis hoped to promote community connections, cycling and walking. To achieve this, the town set up three parklets in its Main Street District, located near an expanded bike trail that links West Memphis with neighboring Memphis, Tennessee. Parklets -- mini street oases created in the footprint of a parking space -- provide places to sit, talk and gather. The West Memphis parklets each feature LED lighting and public art. Sculptures created from donated bicycles distinguish two of the parklets. The other parklet features new wooden benches and an oversized sculpture of a guitar, meant to pay homage to the town's musical heritage.

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.

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early to mid-1900s, the Waveland Trolley was an integral part of Des Moines' transportation system yet has long since been replaced by more modern options.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.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

San Diego, CA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Engaging residents alongside thought leaders in problem solving

Description: To raise awareness about the needs of older adults and the ways communities can be more age-friendly, consumer advocacy organization CARR created boomer.ology, a conversation-starting board game. The game is based on the 8 Domains of Livability framework used by the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. CARR designed the game to be set up at public events. To play, participants move their game pawns across the board based on their answers to a series of questions on housing, transportation, outdoor spaces and buildings, social participation, health and community services, respect and social inclusion, communication and information and civic participation and employment.

San Diego, CA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2023

Project Category: Walkability

Description: The project will recruit older volunteers to conduct five walk audits in residential areas to identify potential locations for sidewalk and crosswalk improvements.

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