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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.

Houston, TX

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: Organizers with the North Houston Management District noticed many of Houston's murals found in the city's more affluent neighborhoods. To bring quality public art to the Aldine neighborhood and draw visitors to the local library, the District painted an augmented reality mural. The artwork depicts the word knowledge on a colorful backdrop. Passersby can use a smartphone app to scan the mural, allowing them to experience additional multimedia content. The mural is the first augmented reality project of its kind in Houston. Project organizers say the creative placemaking effort is meant to build neighborhood pride and a positive local identity to lower-income, predominantly Black and Latino North Houston.

Chicago, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: The El Paseo Community Garden in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood added a new gathering space, dubbed El Convivio or The Gathering. The goal of the project was to make the garden more accessible to Latino older adults living in nearby apartment buildings. Improvements to the space include an outdoor kitchen and patio with a fire pit, ADA-compliant seating, walking paths and an accessible planting station. Planters at the site were specifically designed to grow culturally relevant produce, including tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions. The picnic area's stucco and ceramic tiles mimic designs seen in Mexican haciendas. Garden leaders partnered with nonprofit architectural firm Human Scale to involve garden members in the space's design and volunteers from the neighborhood installed the new amenities. As El Paseo's leadership finalized El Convivio, they also worked with the City of Chicago to secured additional land to expand the garden.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Bozeman, MT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Roadway/sidewalks/crosswalk improvement

Description: The City of Bozeman partnered with the Western Transportation Institute to create a pop-up trailer, which they lend to community groups who want to test out street concepts and advocate for permanent changes. The toolkit contains materials for temporary demonstrations, such as straw wattles, planter boxes, pavement paint and tires. These are useful for creating curb extensions and pedestrian islands -- features that calm traffic by narrowing lanes and increasing the visibility of cyclists and pedestrians. The City deployed the kit at the intersection of Tamarack and North Tracy, where residents often complain about speeding. Located near a park, senior center and the county fairgrounds, the intersection is popular with pedestrians and cyclists. When the City polled passersby about the interventions, two-thirds of the feedback they heard was positive. The City also set up radar speed detection equipment, which showed slower vehicle speeds during pop-up project.

Bozeman, MT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public or private transit access

Description: Streamline is a zero-fare, fixed route bus system that serves about 1,000 riders daily. Because of its popularity, the Human Resource Development Council -- which runs the service -- determined it needed to redesign Streamline's routes and explore ways to expand. To publicize new routes, the Council launched its Doors to Transit campaign. Volunteers painted 15 large, colorful doors displaying information about the new bus service, which the Council temporarily installed around the region. In addition, project organizers hosted a community event to inform residents about new routes and changes to timetables. To draw people in, participants had the chance to win gift cards redeemable at local businesses. Project organizers say these efforts helped reach potential Streamline riders and prepare existing riders for upcoming bus service changes.

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