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Millinocket, ME

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: Residents and leaders in Millinocket, located at the foot of Mount Katahdin, are working to make the town a four-season destination for outdoor recreation. To encourage residents to get outside and interact with their neighbors, the Town held the Katahdin Snowdown, a winter event. Activities included ice skating, snowshoeing, snow art and a bonfire. Organizers offered visitors hot chocolate and coffee. In addition, the Town installed a story walk -- a series of signs along a local hiking trail that each display a portion of a storybook. Equipment purchased for the event -- including benches, pop-up tents, insulated coolers and speakers -- are now available for use at other town events. The outdoor event provided residents with an intergenerational social outing during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the years since, the Snowdown has become an annual occurrence.

Pocatello, ID

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: Not every Pocatello neighborhood has its own public park or gathering space. To give residents a way to gather outside, NeighborWorks Pocatello created its Block Party Trailer. Equipped with folding picnic tables, chairs, cornhole games, an outdoor movie screen, collapsible garbage bins and more, the 22-foot trailer helps neighbors easily host block parties and other outdoor gatherings. This will help people not only get to know their neighbors, but also just get them out into their neighborhoods, Neighborworks Community Equipment Manager Lisa Smith said.

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.

Hettinger, ND

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To expand recreation options for residents of Hettinger, this project activated Centennial Square, an underused space in the city's downtown. The Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce added outdoor games to the square, including Jenga and chess. Organizers say they hope the games plaza draw people downtown and provide opportunities for intergenerational activities. The biggest highlight of this project was the way that a few games brought together a diverse spread of community members of different ages, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jasmin Fosheim said.

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