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Carlisle, IA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: This project set out to enhance the City of Carlisle's walking trails and downtown area. To achieve this, the City installed benches, planters, bicycle racks and banner-sign mounts. Those improvements helped Carlisle contribute to its goal of becoming a more walkable city with an attractive, functional downtown.

Milwaukee, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: As part of the ongoing efforts to improve Gardner Park, the City of Milwaukee added a new community gathering space. Located in the Menomonee River Hills neighborhood, the intergenerational space features a gravel patio area, as well as wheelchair-accessible tables with built-in game boards, benches, an information kiosk and new landscaping. Previously, the City installed a new playground, walking path and fitness equipment at the park. Project organizers say in recent years the neighborhood has welcomed an influx of new families -- including those from the Hmong community -- underscoring the need for a public space for neighbors to meet and socialize.

Mobile, AL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Organizers with Via Health, Fitness and Enrichment Center envisioned a community green space where Mobile residents of all ages can interact. This project added two gazebos to the space, providing visitors with shade. Project organizers also installed a bike rack and dog watering station onsite and volunteers constructed a raised garden bed for growing flowers, herbs and vegetables. Since the transformation, Midtown Meets has become a meetup spot for local walking and biking clubs, a space for college students to take study breaks and a place for older adults to socialize. In addition, a new volunteer group, called Midtown Neighbors, continues to meet to work in the community garden beds.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Portland, OR

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Entrepreneurship and improved economic resilience

Description: Following COVID-19 shutdowns, Alberta Main Street wanted to encourage residents to visit small businesses in the Alberta District. To increase foot traffic in the neighborhood, they hosted a series of community events. Christmas, Halloween and other holiday-themed gatherings drew large crowds to the district. Additionally, they launched a monthly Last Thursday series, which showcased local artists' work and offered activities for families with children. Organizers worked to ensure each event celebrated the neighborhoods' diversity and culture, as well as its African American business owners. Alberta Main Street hopes future events help shield legacy businesses from displacement. In the future, they are also planning a grant program to help owners historically overlooked by traditional lenders.

Portland, OR

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Inclusive transportation solutions

Description: This pilot program taught Chinese-speaking elders to use smartphones to access information about bus schedules, routes and fares. APANO held three hands-on workshops in the Jade District, one of the most diverse areas of Portland. The neighborhood is home to the city's busiest bus route, which serves a housing complex for older adults. APANO navigators worked with youth leaders fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese to teach participants to use the local transit agency's TriMet app, as well as Google Maps. Workshop organizers hoped to reach 50 participants but the first training alone welcomed more than 70 people. Organizers also led practice trips to locations important to workshop participants. APANO reports that building confidence in public transit helped stave off food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, as older adults were able to travel by bus to obtain culturally specific grocery staples.

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