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Toledo, OH

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To transform a vacant lot into a pocket park, Salem Lutheran Church installed benches at the site. Inspired by the improvements, community members contributed donations to construct concrete pads for the benches and add trash receptacles nearby. The Church also built a pergola to provide shade at a nearby bus stop, making it the only stop with shelter in the immediate neighborhood. Project organizers engaged local teenagers to help with installation, who volunteered alongside residents. Salem Lutheran Church has since continued its efforts to revitalize North Toledo, hosting a summer youth program to build a community garden for the neighborhood.

Castleton-on-Hudson, NY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The Village of Castleton-on-Hudson regularly hosts a Repair Cafe event, where volunteers repaired any item brought to them, if possible. One problem: the event takes place on the second floor of a Village Hall, which has no elevator. This posed an accessibility issue -- locals often complained about climbing the building's difficult staircase. To solve this, the Village moved its Repair Cafe to Noyes Engine House. They also worked to activate a vacant lot next door, installing a community bulletin board, benches and planters onsite. The improvements support wider efforts to revitalize the village's downtown, with the goal of drawing more people to the central business district.

Orange County, FL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To promote safe, physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Curry Ford West created a pop-up park on a vacant lot. During a community event, two-hundred volunteers constructed a labyrinth onsite made of brightly painted recycled pallets. The park remained in place for a month. Project organizers say the park and labyrinth helped connect the community during a time when people were separated. They also report the pop-up project helped demonstrate to local government leaders the importance of community green space. In the future, Curry Ford West hopes to install more pop-up parks as part of its advocacy for more public spaces in Orlando.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Lemmon, SD

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Staff at the Lemmon Public Library saw a need to reduce social isolation in town, particularly among older residents. To address this, they set out to improve the library's public gathering space. Project organizers created a new bakery cafe, purchasing folding tables with stacking chairs, an acrylic pastry cabinet, a cake cover and cupcake display, tablecloths and pump pots for coffee. Since the cafe's opening, the library has used new tables and chairs at hundreds of events and the space has accommodated pop-up shops. The opportunity to bake for the cafe led some residents to launch their own baking businesses and one retired baker was inspired to plan a workshop for women starting businesses. Sparked by the success of the cafe, library staff have since pursued other opportunities to expand community space, including providing library patrons with an outdoor area for reading and gathering.

Lemmon, SD

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2023

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: The project will purchase a portable dance floor, which residents will be able to check out from the library for local events.

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