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Greenfield, MA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of Greenfield removed 250-square-feet of asphalt from a downtown parking lot, converting it to a pocket park -- a space for people instead of cars. The Fiske Avenue Pocket Park features benches, a chess table, a bike repair station, a pollinator garden and a quirky bee sculpture. Project organizers say the new, centrally located green space supportz a central goal of the city's Sustainable Master Plan: to create a vibrant, walkable downtown. Additionally, removing the asphalt supported efforts to mitigate stormwater runoff. The project's success also helped the City secure a 200,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation.

Nashville, TN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To help older adults age in place in their community, Rebuilding Together Nashville made improvements to three community spaces in the Bordeaux neighborhood. The nonprofit gathered feedback from residents to choose which spaces to update. At FiftyForward Bordeaux -- a senior center -- volunteers installed a shade structure, allowing visitors to comfortably gather outdoors. They also added a shed onsite and updated the center's interior, including painting and installing shelving. The Infinity Center is an after-school center that hosts children's theater and community classes. There, volunteers replaced windows, sealed water leaks and repaired a dilapidated deck. Finally, they helped Brooklyn Heights Community Garden transition from a group of raised beds to a full-scale urban farm. Volunteers demolished and moved old garden beds and prepared the site for a new pack and wash station, greenhouse and production garden.

Appleton, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To give residents more spaces to gather and socialize, Creative Downtown Appleton created a parklet. Volunteers repurposed two on-street parking spaces to create the mini-park, which they outfitted with seating, tables and LED lighting. To make the space accessible to wheelchair users and parents with strollers, organizers installed a ramp. Additionally, they installed bike racks nearby. Visitors to the parklet are welcome to pick herbs for free, which Creative Downtown Appleton planted onsite. Project organizers say the space supports nearby businesses -- the parklet offers people an outdoor seating option so they can enjoy coffee or meals purchased locally.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Monroeville, AL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Organizers with Monroeville's Main Street initiative hoped to draw residents to the city's historic downtown district. To give people a reason to gather outdoors, they added wheelchair-accessible game tables and seating in several locations, including the grounds of the Monroe County Museum, two parks, the local YMCA and a senior center. The organization also purchased checkers and chess game pieces, which are available to visitors to check out. Part of a larger campaign to decrease littering and encourage community pride, organizers also installed trash cans downtown. And to increase facetime with constituents, the newly elected mayor also called on residents to challenge him to a game of chess or checkers. Organizers say the placemaking project is meant to unite the community by giving people a place to connect with each other.

Camden, AL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: To replace dilapidated seating options in Camden's historic downtown, Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center organized the Sharing Our Stories One Bench at a Time project. The effort involved purchasing, decorating and installing 11 mosaic benches around the Wilcox County Courthouse. Led by local mosaic artist Linda Munoz, residents aged 4 to 80 shared their stories, came up with themes and designs and cut and laid colorful glass onto concrete seats. The benches -- which feature imagery related to life in Camden -- represent more than just a beautiful place to sit. Project organizers say the new benches brought the community together and strengthened Camden's sense of civic pride.

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