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Brattleboro, VT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Residents considered the Brattleboro Transportation Center's parking garage to be ugly and uninviting. To change this, the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance worked with local artists to create signage for each level of the garage. The new signs feature a different animal for each level, with each creature -- the osprey, river otter, American shad and sea lamprey -- significant to the Abenaki indigenous community and the Connecticut River ecosystem. Additionally, the Alliance held a pop-up event in the garage's elevator to display the prototype for a new Ask the River kinetic sculpture. Visitors to the garage could view the sculpture and give their feedback. Today, the full-size version of the artwork decorates the facade of the Transportation Center building.

Wayne, MI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Derby's Alley, located in downtown Wayne, was underutilized, but organizers with Wayne Ripple Effect saw its potential as a community gathering space. To showcase the alley, the organization held eight fitness classes, including Tai Chi and cardio drumming instruction. They also installed bistro tables, benches and overhead lighting in the alley. Since then, Wayne Main Street has improved landscaping in the alley and added signage.

Oxford, AL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Oxford's historic downtown is home to restaurants, shops, art galleries, historic churches and a first-class performing arts center. Its brick-paved sidewalks are great for strolling, but the area lacked seating options. To address this, Historic Main Street Oxford installed metal benches, as well as two bike racks. This enables Main Street visitors to grab an ice cream cone with a friend and rest comfortably in the shade. The new amenities came during a downtown streetscaping project, which included installing accessible sidewalks, new lighting and improved landscaping.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Jackson, WY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Public or private transit access

Description: Residents of a Jackson housing complex -- including several dozen older adults and people with disabilities -- had an unappealing wait for the bus. The local bus stop was surrounded field of weeds and littered with trash and debris, including an abandoned car. To make matters worse, it had no place to sit. To give bus riders a more comfortable wait, the Jackson Hole Senior Center cleared weeds and trash from the site. They then leveled out the site and installed an artistic bench with a garden area behind it. During construction, neighbors volunteered their labor. Going forward, they also offered to help clear the site of snow in the winter and maintain the landscaping. After installation, the Town agreed to place a second bench at the bus stop across the street.

Jackson, WY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Engaging people in transportation options/safety

Description: To make its car-oriented downtown more pedestrian-friendly, the Town of Jackson held a design workshop to test ideas for improvements to the town square. Held at a local senior center, the workshop allowed town staff to show older residents photos of downtown and get their feedback. The Town then incorporated suggestions from the workshop at a Park(ing) Day event. They converted a parking space into a parklet with outdoor furniture, planters and bike racks. In addition, they offered trishaw rides around the square during the event and for a few weeks afterwards. Town staff interviewed older adults at the event, asking about ways to make downtown more walkable. Organizers then reported what they heard to the town council to inform future improvements. Project organizers say the workshop and Park(ing) Day event built relationships with older adults, which will help keep them involved in the community design process going forward.

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