Four small organizations with big plans have been selected to receive Community Action Sponsorships from AARP Vermont to support their efforts to make Burlington a more livable city. AARP Vermont launched the Community Action Sponsorship Program in 2010 as a way to provide modest grant funds and technical support to community groups whose missions were consistent with those of the Burlington Livable Community Project. This citywide collaborative project seeks to prepare Burlington for the rapidly aging demographic shift – particularly in the areas of housing, mobility and community engagement.
After a thorough review process, the following projects were selected:
The Vermont Goat Collaborative, Karen Fruedenberger – $2,000
ISGOOD, Brian Cina – $2,000
Protect the King Street Neighborhood, Neil Mickenberg – $1,500
Northeast Disabled Athletic Association – Adaptive Sailing, Katherine Barwin – $500
Vermont Goat Collaborative — The Vermont Goat Collaborative began in 2011 as a community based initiative make a goat farm a “neighborhood” entity among New American elders and their families in Burlington. The Collaborative is comprised of representatives of the Bhutanese, Somali, and Burmese communities seeking to address the food preferences of Burlington’s immigrant families. The AARP grant will help further develop the farm into an inviting gathering place for both for family festivities and multi-cultural events through infrastructure improvements and the purchase of picnic tables and other accoutrements to make the farm inviting for intercultural gatherings.
ISGOOD – A grassroots neighborhood organization, ISGOOD established a neighborhood garden in 2009 which over the years has helped to foster a calmer, cleaner and more hospitable neighborhood. Engaging students in gardening activities has created a greater sense of community and immediately increased their investment in the street. The AARP grant will help expand the urban gardening strategy by further developing the community gardens and implementing signage designating the efforts of the ISGOOD Neighborhood.
Protect the King St. Neighborhood – This organization’s goal is to advocate both changes to and re-routing of part of the proposed Champlain Parkway so that it does not go through the King Street neighborhood. It is one of the poorest and most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Vermont and if the current Parkway is approved, it will result in significant increases in increase in automobile and truck traffic through this area. The AARP grant will support advocacy efforts primarily focused on grassroots organizing (lawn signs in the neighborhood, advertising calling for public support, legal support, community organizers and experts).
Northeast Disabled Athletic Association – Adaptive Sailing — This program is designed to provide anyone with any sort of physically handicapping condition to be able to sail in a safe and accessible environment. There are handicap accessible ramps, a lift which safely and securely allows participants to get in/out of the sailboats, and trained sailing companions and instructors for all participants. The AARP grant help enable older Vermonters and individuals with physical handicaps to enjoy sailing in a safe and accessible manner while engaging the local community in their efforts.
The Community Action Sponsorships are one-time funding for a 12-month period and awardees will receive technical assistance and training from AARP staff. The program is directed at grassroots groups within Burlington that seek to advocate or make specific improvements in the following areas:
- Affordable housing options for older residents
- Delivery of services to help older residents age in the setting of their choice
- Pedestrian infrastructure (sidewalks, amenities for walkers, public art, safe street crossings, navigation, etc.)
- Public transit
- Fostering intergenerational and multi-cultural connection
- Financial security for low income older residents
- Socialization and fostering community connection for older residents
- Education and awareness about LGBTQ elders
- Community accessibility for disabled residents
“We are very pleased to extend support to these projects as a way to foster local community development initiatives,” said Greg Marchildon, state director at AARP Vermont. “We received a broad range of proposals to consider this year and it was a very difficult selection process,” he said. “These sponsorships are intended to inspire and support grassroots groups that have a vision for their neighborhood or the city and how it can be improved.”