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Cuba City, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: For more than ten years, Cuba City's planning documents promised an intergenerational gathering space downtown. This project made good on that promise, converting a gravel parking lot into a gathering space. Organizers hoped the Presidential Plaza Project would increase walkability and draw traffic to Cuba City's Main Street business district. To activate the space, volunteers installed a bike rack, outdoor games and picnic tables with umbrellas for shade. A Wi-Fi hotspot provides free internet access for visitors. To beautify the area, residents painted a large mural on the pavement, which pays tribute to frontline workers' contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. A later addition to the mural depicts the Mississippi river and includes an area for visitors to play hopscotch.

Green River, UT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: As Epicenter worked to complete its Canal Commons affordable housing development, organizers set out to create an accessible greenspace for future residents. Located in the desert city of Green River, the pocket neighborhood lacks access to walking trails, sidewalks and parks. To address this, Epicenter installed concrete walkways. To allow residents to gather outdoors at night -- and avoid the hot, desert sun -- organizers installed LED lighting along the path. Wayfinding signage helps residents navigate the path, as well as the larger neighborhood. The space also features a picnic table, ADA-compliant benches and raised garden beds. Epicenter prioritized universal design elements for the greenspace to ensure people can age in place at Canal Commons.

Washington, DC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The Well at Oxon Run, a 1.5-acre farm, outdoor classroom and community space, has been a huge asset for the Congress Heights neighborhood. The Well, however, lacked a waterproof, covered area for events and classes. DC Greens added a roof to the Well's wood-framed pavilion, creating a comfortable venue that is usable year-round. Following the roof's installation, the space has hosted yoga, chi gong and body therapy classes, as well as community drum circles and other events.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Albuquerque, NM

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The Barelas Community Coalition hoped to create a welcoming, multigenerational gathering space to allow community members to eat, play, and learn together. The organization constructed a shade structure, added a bench, installed solar lighting and displayed signage at a public courtyard. The outdoor area is part of the Las Esquinita complex, an indoor commercial space that includes a small food hall and artisan market. It is also located next to a new food truck park, which the Coalition helps manage. Today, the space serves as a public art venue where resident can communicate their ideas, wants and feelings alongside an existing mural. Project organizers say the project helped secure long-term support for their activation efforts and allowed the community to rally around local revitalization activities.

Albuquerque, NM

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Engaging people in transportation options/safety

Description: To help Albuquerque residents stay physically active and access nutritious food, the Mid-Region Council of Governments repurposed an underused parking lot into a pop-up community wellness and walking hup. Volunteers repurposed wooden pallets to construct benches, tables and planters. They also planted fruit trees and added bird feeders to the site. To give residents a space to meditate, organizers also created a wellness labyrinth onsite. Using paint, they delineated a walking path across the parking lot and created an artistic crosswalk nearby. Additionally, the Council created and displayed interactive walking maps -- available in both English and Spanish -- along with pavement decals displaying QR codes. The QR codes allow smartphone users to access information online about walking and nutrition programs. Organizers say the project is a first step in larger efforts to address health disparities experienced by the community's Latino, Hispanic and Native populations.

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