At first, it seemed difficult to reclaim this public land that was gripped for vested interest. We had to rise above the inertia and create a community centred place that’s beneficial for all. It was critical to break a cycle of helplessness especially in a society where the hope is dim. People can lose that hope easily if they see no way to change the situation.
Therefore, we made a first good step by looking around this vacant lot that needed much attention. This land has been neglected for a long time filled with trash, overgrown weeds and debris. If this neighbourhood has gotten to this it means that they have become part of the problem, it was time to take action to change the scenery. So we planned for a community clean-up to make it more pleasing and safer.
We organized this clean-up on Saturday with the general structure, a beginning of neighbourhood regeneration.No one is too old, too young, or unable to help or contribute in some way. Everyone has a role to play. People made phone calls, informed residents, recruited volunteers, conveyed the municipal officials, the precinct police in charge and many other officials to assist us in a clean-up. We persuaded politicians to get involved in this cause and work with people in the neighbourhood who can then be helpful to them in other circumstances – if they put the neighbourhood wellbeing at the forefront.
This community clean-up is the beginning of neighbourhood regeneration. Some children as young as 10 or 11, came with their parents and worked in their capacity. They brought their own tools. This effort unified the community and generated social capital. It attracted volunteers from other neighbourhoods extending the amount of social capital across the borders of that populace. Samridhi who came to participate all the way from Godawari said, Though I don’t live in this area, I feel its everyone’s responsibility to keep our city clean.
Space was cleaned with many hands positive minds. It not only made the neighbourhood more pleasant to look at but shifted residents’ opinion of themselves. Residents had a chance to bond with one another and establish neighbourhood coherence beyond racial, ethnic, cultural, and other lines.
The realization of what can be accomplished if we work together with a common purpose made the residents more willing to address other issues. This community clean up wasn’t a one-shot operation. We built a strategy and structure to bring about long-term social change. Then the community became involved in the planning process with the help of experts.
We formed coordination for maintaining communication among all the groups to tackle the challenges cooperatively. This sincere effort to build a true sense of “ownership” or connection to the places became a force for good that surpassed ill intentions and stood strong for neighbourhood wellness. This space is now transforming into a community park Together we Turned a Place Around.
I took pictures throughout the event and all the community planning meetings to have a record of what went on and share them through social networking sites or feed pictures to the media.