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Bismarck, ND

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: As part of Bismarck's Health in All Policies initiative, the City made improvements to its 16th Street Park, intending to create a sense of place and encourage residents to be active outdoors. To revitalize the park, project organizers installed a new bench, ADA-accessible picnic table and game table. Local artists also designed a mural for a building onsite and decorated walkways with sidewalk chalk art. To complete the activation, volunteers created designs by pushing colorful plastic cups through the park's chain link fences. Additionally, the City conducted a temporary traffic calming demonstration at a nearby roundabout in an effort to make the area safer for pedestrians.

Gooding, ID

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The Gooding Public Library Foundation converted an unused area of West Park into a community commons. Located near Gooding's library, city hall and police station, the site now features accessible picnic tables, shade canopies and lidded trash cans. The library now uses the site for a variety of activities, including story time and science experiments. Library patrons, workers on lunch break and other community members also gather in the space. The library now plans to install a little free library in the park.

Ashland, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: A survey showed residents in Ashland wanted more outdoor seating in the city's downtown. As part of larger efforts to revitalize the commercial district the City worked with Ashland Main Street to install decorative benches. The City engaged teams of artists -- including college students and staff from the local food co-op -- to design artwork for the seating. Then, with the help of volunteers, project organizers then installed one bench on every block of Ashland's nine-block commercial area. Each depicts imagery related to the community's identity, including scenes from local history or ecology. Paying homage to nearby Lake Superior, several benches have a water theme. Project organizers say Ashland is known as the mural capital of Wisconsin, and the benches work with other public art installations to draw people to visit downtown.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Millersburg, PA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2023

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: This project will provide benches and raised beds for a newly-created community garden, as well as install raised garden beds near senior apartment buildings.

York County, PA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Inclusive civic engagement efforts

Description: To better capture local history, the York County History Center launched its Share Your Story initiative. Organizers specifically hoped to include the voices of underrepresented community members, including BIPOC residents and people with disabilities. The Center constructed a mobile recording booth, which it set up in local schools and a senior center and at community events, including a Juneteenth celebration, a community theater performance and a local street fair. The listening booth's first outing allowed the History Center to record stories of lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say the stories they collect will inform museum exhibits, as well as the Center's online offerings.

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