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As part of the 2017 AARP Community Challenge, Team Better Block partnered with the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, Locust Street Art, and Futures Academy, along with local residents, stakeholders and volunteers to improve the quality of life for people of all ages in the Fruit Belt neighborhood.
Buffalo's project focused on one block in the Fruit Belt neighborhood. The Fruit Belt is largely residential, and is clearly defined by its borders. To the west is the Buffalo Niagra Medical Campus, to the south the Kensington Expressway, to the east is Jefferson Avenue, the main corridor for Buffalo's African American community; and to the north are City Honors High School and the Masten Avenue Armory. The project site was centrally located in the neighborhood, at the intersection of Carlton and Lemon streets. The main component of this project was building a new age friendly community garden space and connecting the greenspace to the school across the street.
The main challenge addressed was how to turn a vacant greenspace into an active area for people of all ages in the Fruit Belt neighborhood. Through community feedback, we formed a foundation for the Fruit Belt neighbors to use this space as a gathering area for daily use and public events. During the Better Block event, we recorded how some of the installations were used. Twelve new age friendly planters were installed and filled with locally frown flowers. Six new tables were used for eating lunch and painting pumpkins. Twelve new benches were used for resting, eating, and enjoying performances taking place on stage. Spontaneous dancing broke out on the newly built stage and performances were showcased by the African American Cultural Center Dance and Drum Performance Company.