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Missoula, MT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Roadway/sidewalks/crosswalk improvement

Description: Missoula County officials hoped to demonstrate options for improved pedestrian access to East Missoula's downtown. Staff and volunteers put out straw bales, planters and trees to calm traffic, as well as create a temporary bike and walking path near a popular store and service station. They also set up a pop-up park. They also set up an area with picnic tables, canopies and umbrellas. Food trucks and a banner helped attract visitors to the event, along with sidewalk games, face painting and mural making. Attendees could see how possible future safety improvements would work and were invited to provide feedback. Project organizers report the demonstration helped secure buy-in from nearby business owners, who had previously expressed skepticism about changes to the streetscape. Since the event, the County has working to permanently implement the interventions envisioned during the event, including forming long-term plans to reconstruct a major highway corridor.

Buffalo, NY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Preservation Buffalo Niagara wanted to improve the pedestrian experience in Buffalo's Grant Street commercial corridor, which has suffered from disinvestment. With the goal of beautifying the neighborhood, the organization installed trash receptacles on light poles and hung string lights in front of local businesses. The community has a proud history of diversity, including 20 years of welcoming resettled refugees. To celebrate the community's diversity, PBC installed multilingual wayfinding sign and distributed flags representing business owners' countries of origin. To ensure upkeep, they also provided tools to help volunteers maintain the sidewalks and support a community gardener.

Blaine County, ID

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: Like many places, Blaine County struggled with community connectedness and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. To combat this problem, The Senior Connection created the Wood River Valley Daffodil Festival. Over three autumn days, a multigenerational group of volunteers planted 30,000 daffodil bulbs at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden. As planned, the flowers blossomed during the festival, which took place the following spring. The volunteers included older adults, school classes, landscape companies and other community businesses. The festival -- which features food trucks, live music and garden tours -- is now an annual event.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Devils Lake, ND

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Park enhancements

Description: This project expanded an existing pond in Ruger Park and stocked it with fish. It also added a pier, parking, a sidewalk, benches and landscaping.

Rolette County, ND

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: Project organizers planted fruit trees and native plants, enhancing a new garden on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa powwow grounds. The community gardening space featured turtle-shaped pots, which hold flowers and plants -- such as sweet grass and silver sage -- needed for traditional medicines. The Committee hopes fruit from the trees will feed community members and visitors to the annual Powwow celebration. Additionally, the popularity of the turtle-themed planters inspired a fundraising idea. Powwow organizers plan to create similar planters to sell in the future, with proceeds going toward running the Powwow.

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