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Upper Darby, PA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: A new mural brought renewed activity and improved safety to Upper Darby Township's downtown. Volunteers -- including older adults, artists, students and art teachers -- designed and created the 135-foot mural, which is located in a breezeway connecting a parking lot to retail and entertainment options. Its design incorporates greetings in 60 languages -- reflecting community members' native tongues -- and older adults' input helped ensure its imagery reflected the region's history. Project organizers also added new lighting and seating to the breezeway. Community response has been positive. I really enjoy the walk from the garage to the office building, one local worker said. It is cleaner and well-lit. The colorful mural provides an uplifting view and I believe that it encourages people to care a bit more about the area...There is such diversity in culture here. Going forward, the Township plans to use the site for small pop-up events, such as a Music at the Mural performance.

Rock Springs, WY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: Part of a multiyear effort to bring public art to downtown Rock Springs, this project added a new mural paying tribute to the area's mining and railroad history. The artwork then spurred redevelopment of an adjacent vacant lot, which is now a pocket park with seating, shade structures and landscaping. To help visitors learn about local history, Rock Springs Renewal Fund added interpretive signage for the mural, and for others installed nearby. Ultimately, the project's success inspired the City of Rock Springs to commission three additional murals for the pocket park. Today, the City hosts mural walks through the central business district.

Los Angeles, CA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: The Thai Community Development Center sought to beautify Thailand Plaza, a commercial center along Hollywood Boulevard in Thai Town. The more than 1,000 square feet of metal garage doors making up the plaza's faade were a target for graffiti. To solve this, the Center commissioned two artists to replace the tags with vibrant murals illustrating Thai culture. They also repainted the gates of the nearby Brahmin Shrine in deep black and gold. By doing this, project organizers hope to deter future vandalism in the area, inspire a sense of community and draw new visitors to Thai Town. Locals hailed the project during a celebration marking the district's 20th anniversary.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Danville, KY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: Danville has a significant population of residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Community Arts Center hoped to foster a greater sense of belonging for these individuals and to strengthen their sense of place. To achieve this, students from the Kentucky School for the Deaf created and installed a 100-square-foot mosaic on the exterior wall of the Community Arts Center, one of the town's most prominent buildings. The Center held workshops to teach the students about mosaic art and hosted a lecture series for the larger community. In a follow up survey of the students, a majority said they were excited to bring family to visit the mural. They also said the project boosted their sense of connection to the community.

Harrodsburg, KY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: As the City of Harrodsburg approaches its 250th anniversary, Campbellsville University's Conover Education Center surveyed residents about their preferences for neighborhood beautification. In response to their feedback, the Center made streetscaping improvements to Broadway Street. The organization installed commemorative signs at both end of the street, which identify the road as Kentucky's oldest. The Center also added solar lighting, four native shade trees and concrete planters showcasing holly bushes. The new amenities represent improvements to an area which hosts a local festival. Project organizers say the effort also gave longtime residents the chance to engage with local leaders and share their stories and history.

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