Three Vermont communities have each received $3,000 in grants from AARP Vermont to jump start Winter Placemaking demonstration projects that focus on creating public spaces and streets that are safe and accessible for everyone. Proposals from Burlington, Wilmington and Poultney were selected from a host of applications for the initiative.
This is the third year of AARP’s Placemaking grant program. The program aims to help communities build social capital that can help lead to permanent change that supports healthy, active lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities.
This year’s grant process was launched at a two-day Placemaking workshop hosted by AARP Vermont in October. For this season, the program focused on helping communities embrace the winter months by reinventing a space that improves the safety, accessibility and overall appeal either temporarily or semi-permanently.
Vermont’s winter months can be long and dark and contribute greatly to social isolation, especially with Covid-related restrictions. So creating ways to encourage outdoor activities and social engagement is more important than ever.
“This is an opportunity for these Vermont communities to start small by test-driving a process in the community with the expectation that the project will be further improved upon and refined over time, and hopefully lead to permanent change to the built environment,” explained Kelly Stoddard Poor of AARP Vermont. “We know that simple modifications can powerfully alter the health, economic, social, and ecological value of a community,” she said. “When community members and local officials can actually see and experience a new or altered space, they are better able to understand what is possible and how it can improve their community. Projects like these have led to positive exciting new improvements in communities across the country.”
In Poultney, REclaimED (makers Space) will build a rest & recharge station along the D&H Rail Trail at 169 Main St. in downtown Poultney. During winter, the structure will offer self-serve hot drink making. It will be accessible year-round for information, relaxation and art.
In support of these projects AARP Vermont will provide technical assistance and publicity support as well as helping project leaders engage with other local, regional or state partner organizations that can contribute to their success.