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Hilo, HI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: Like in many communities around the country, older adults in Hilo were particularly isolated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help older adults connect with friends and neighbors, the East Hawai'i Cultural Center created an outdoor mobile stage. The modular stage hosted free and low-cost theatre, dance, music, hula, poetry performances and lectures at venues throughout the community, including several at two senior centers.

Sacramento, CA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2023

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: This project will transform a park by staging a vibrant pop-up community celebration and organizing workshops where older adults can become involved in decisions about how to improve their community.

Austin, TX

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin's Healthy Streets program closed streets to vehicle traffic in several residential neighborhoods. This enabled neighbors to go for walks and ride bikes without needing to dodge traffic. To help residents become advocates for slow streets, project organizers held online meetings with neighbor groups to teach them effective ways to share their opinions with City leadership. Local artists also created street murals to decorate the low-traffic spaces. This ultimately helped keep Healthy Streets alive -- the Transportation Department announced it would wind down the program due concerns about cost and staff capacity. But community advocates documented the benefits of the street closures and urged the city council to keep the project. In 2021, the council voted in to make the program permanent. Project organizers also created a report with best practices to help other communities replicate open streets projects.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Jackson, MS

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of Jackson set out to demonstrate the value of vibrant public spaces. This project was part of larger open streets efforts, which close streets to vehicle traffic residents to gather, walk and play there. First, the City created a parklet on Congress Street in St. Paul's downtown. The temporary mini-park fit in the footprint of an on-street parking space. The City outfitted the space with outdoor furniture, allowing residents to relax and socialize. Organizers say the parklet also drove business to local restaurants, providing outdoor dining space for customers. To gauge residents' reaction to the space, the City conducted a survey during the pop-up. The City has since worked to develop guidelines for parklet creation, allowing local businesses to set up their own outdoor spaces.

Jackson, MS

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Trails

Description: The City of Jackson is working to develop the Museum Trail -- a four-mile, multi-use path designed to improve community health and wellness, connect areas of interest within the community and promote active transportation. Building on this work, the Jackson Heart Foundation improved wayfinding along the corridor by installed railhead and mile markers. Organizers say the signage helps visitors understand where the trail begins and ends and provides them with information about ongoing work to improve the path. Volunteers also created a mural at the trail's entrance. And to promote the trail, project organizers launched a new website and offered branded tote bags for donors.

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