By Leevones Fisher, Executive Director – Bay Area Women’s Coalition (BAWC)
Success starts at home and spreads abroad. This was BAWC’s first attempt at organizing a clean-up that featured “Yard of the month” on this street. This project promoted, protected, and developed natural resources to secure social and economic benefits for people living in the low wealth community located in the Mobile Gulf Coast Area.
Millions of Americans are celebrating clean, safe, and healthy communities during the Spring as they volunteer for cleanup projects. Unfortunately, the Trinity Gardens Neighborhood has been left out of the conversation – something we were determined to change. We wanted this year to become the biggest event we have ever attempted and to motivate residents to participate and plan to participate in the future.
We designed and implemented a plan that involved residents, friends, families, schools, churches, clubs, organizations, and local government.
BAWC’s street coordinators and block captains volunteered to complete the following:
- Distribute information at least 500+ beautification kits throughout the community with each of the following: (a) culturally sensitive educational information about the importance of keeping a neighborhood litter/debris free and the impact on watersheds and eco-systems; (b) general information about caring for yards, (c) calendar of garbage and trash pick-up, (d) trash bags, (e) disposal gloves; and (f) packets of seeds to plant flowers/vegetables in their yards.
- Identify partners such as churches, clubs, college students, and organizations to provide assistance to the elderly and disabled residents.
- Identify at least 12+ intergenerational residents who were willing to help disabled/elderly neighbors beautify their yards with flowers or edible plants such as collards, turnips, kale and trees.
- Designed and implemented a long-term maintenance plan for the elderly and disabled, especially homeowners greater than 95 years of age still living in the community.
We learned lots of lessons from this one event with the first being start planning early, as in today, for next year’s event. Make plans to widen your invitations to cover all schools, public, private, and higher educational (universities & colleges), to participate in the project during that week. We also asked all businesses, not just local, to adopt-a-spot and take care of it for a defined number of months while we worked with others such as local cleanup crews. Another lesson we learned was to be creative and inclusive.
By participating in clean-ups and beautification projects, residents feel important and it helps promote permanent participation in future projects. Although results may not be immediate, residents will see permanent changes on their street, especially in their own yards.
Remember success starts at home in your own yard and then spreads abroad. Below is Mrs. Hampshire, who is 101 years of age. She loves her t-shirt and wanted her team to beautify her yard with flowers and fruit trees.