AARP Wisconsin: Proposal to beautify downtown with artistic pieces wins grant

Contact: Jim Flaherty, Communications Director
Office 608/ 286-6308 – Cell 608/ 698-0928, [email protected]

LA CROSSE, WI – A proposal by Downtown Mainstreet Inc. to decorate dozens
of planters in downtown La Crosse with colorful public art pieces has been
selected to receive an AARP Wisconsin “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant.

Currently, the 91 planters located throughout the downtown include colorful summer flowers and foliage. Using the $1,000 grant from AARP Wisconsin,
Downtown Mainstreet will continue a project that calls for paying local artists for
their time and materials to decorate the planters with mostly mosaic or clay
pieces in an effort to add color and warmth to the downtown area.

“We are so appreciative of the support AARP is providing us to beautify the
downtown business district,” said Terry Bauer, Executive Director of Downtown
Mainstreet, after learning the project had been awarded the grant.

Five planters located on Main and Fourth Streets have already been decorated,
with several more waiting in the wings. “Our hope is to get maybe 20 to 25 of
them done this year,” said Bauer, who plans to keep extending the project over
time to include as many of the 91 planters as they can get to.

Bauer said the feedback from the community so far has been all positive. “They
are really noticeable. People are enjoying them and rallying behind the project.”
Small Dollar, Big Impact grants are being awarded once a month throughout the
year to projects across Wisconsin that are designed to improve communities and
make them better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age. Judges
selected this project for a grant after reviewing dozens of proposals submitted
from all over the state.

“This project fits perfectly with the spirit and intent of the grant program, said
AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson. “Our goal is to support communities
as they make positive changes that inspire long-term progress on livable issues.
This project hits that nail right on the head.”

AARP Wisconsin’s launched its “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020
and is now in its second year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural
and urban parts of the state. All projects are expected to be completed within 60
days of the winner announcement.

“These grants are exactly what the name describes – short-term, low-cost
solutions that could have remarkable impacts on the shaping of neighborhoods
and cities,” said Darrin Wasniewski, Associate State Director of Community
Outreach for AARP Wisconsin.

“There are so many great ideas and proposals for making life better in
communities across Wisconsin. We know how impactful $1,000 can be. This is
our way of extending some seed money to get these projects off the ground.”
The grant program is open to some nonprofits and government entities. For more
information on the program, visit