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See More Grantees Like This One

Charlotte, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Before the advent of air conditioning, a Southern home was not complete without a front porch with a swing. To replicate the experience of gathering on a porch, the City of Charlotte installed swings at two bus stops in place of the more traditional bench. Located along Belmont Avenue -- a corridor where many older adults rely on public transportation -- the two-person swings provide a space for riders to socialize as they wait for their bus. Inspired by the popularity of the swings, the City is exploring other opportunities for placemaking around local bus stops.

Southport, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The stories of those buried in the John N. Smith Cemetery in Southport have never been shared with the broader community. As the only African American cemetery in the region, the John N Smith Cemetery Restoration and Preservation group created an outdoor museum onsite. The museum teaches residents about the racial and economic discrimination that Black members of that community have faced, as well as contributions residents made to the community. Project organizers designed and installed interpretive signage, as well as benches and a display board for public announcements and other information. Designed to be accessible for people of all ages, the space recounts an important part of Southport's history and culture.

Gastonia, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services beautified a public space near Gastonia's Schiele Museum and the town's library. To encourage residents to get out and walk, the Department added a sidewalk mural at the library, which depicts astronauts on a spacewalk. Museum staff installed an outdoor exhibit about the Solar System. In addition, project organizers commissioned a local metalworks shop to create benches with a celestial theme. Other placemaking enhancements included adding planters and new graphic designs to adorn the nearby transit shelter, as well an amenity map display to help visitors locate nearby trails and greenspace.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Grantees

Chatham County, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: When the owner of the Bynum General Store in Pittsboro retired, neighbors established a nonprofit organization called Bynum Front Porch, which turned the shop into a community center and performance space. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, grant funds -- and the power of high-speed internet -- enabled the venue to livestream its monthly storytelling workshops and musical events. Bynum Front Porch set up a recording equipment in the space, allowing the nonprofit to reach older adults, former residents and others unable to gather in person. In the years since, Bynum Front Porch has continued to stream live performance and archive shows on its YouTube channel.

Henderson, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: The Flint Hill Kittrell Vance Community Development Corporation hoped to help foster economic development in Henderson's Flint Hill neighborhood, a low-income community. To create a sense of place there, the CDC created the Henderson Art Walk. First, volunteers worked to install murals and crosswalk art reflecting the area's history and culture. Local youth also took part in an oral history project, recording stories from their elders. A local website hosts an archive of the stories, along with photos of local public art installations. Then the CDC launched its walking tour, which highlights local Black history and culture. The walk leads visitors past local galleries and museums, as well as murals and crosswalk art. One mural honors Ben E. King, a Henderson native best known for writing and performing the song Stand by Me. The success of this placemaking project has inspired similar efforts in nearby communities and has spurred the CDC to create more public art.

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