Sunday, June 08, 2008

building community, one plant at a time

part of our experiment with the planters in front of our home was to see if by being present, and by adding to our neighborhood in an intentional way, we would become part of the neighborhood, and part of keeping it clean and safe.

today i noted a trend as i applied the second coat of paint to remove the tags that appeared last weekend. each time i've sat outside with paint brush in hand, someone says hello, or at the very least, notices. there are times when i'm the first to greet, but often passersby are curious and slow their pace when they see me. today, two men noticed my handiwork, and stopped to say, "that's nice." i turned to greet them, and one pointed to the new planters supplied by our neighbors (more on that story, below) and asked, "are you adding more?" i shared that they were from our neighbors, and that we were all trying to fill the sidewalk with green and beauty. he smiled and said warmly, "thank you so much for doing this. thank you."

he and his friend walked away, and to my surprise, they entered the door nearest ours. they were our neighbors.

neighborly planting
about a month ago, a guy was sweeping furiously outside our door and along the sidewalk. i'd never seen him, or anyone clean the sidewalk, so i asked if he lived nearby. he nodded and pointed to the building next to ours, and we began to swap stories about the junk people dump on our sidewalk. i shared our plan to fill the sidewalk with green, and told him about the planters that had been stolen, and of our determination to continue. our scheme intrigued him, and he offered to participate, saying that he and his roommates would buy big planters that couldn't be stolen easily. he became animated and dramatic, exclaiming, "one day you'll come out and you'll see us adding plants all along the sidewalk."

i wondered if he and his partying crew (they once had a dj with a stereo system hooked up to his bicycle performing a gig on the sidewalk) would made good on their promise, and then last week when we returned from seattle, there they were: two large planters with CACTI. brilliant. the chance that someone will scoop out these plants and walk away is slim. fingers crossed.


jini said...

it's really working! good job you two. there will always be some people who have to tear down or mar the surface, but this could be the start of everyone on the street working together!

david silver said...


the more green, the more clean ... especially on our street.

jewlee said...

that is so rad beark!!! I love it. Meeting people and beautifying it helps make a street a neighborhood!!! Yea for you guys.

sarah said...

thanks, du. it feels pretty nice to see the change happen before us.

Ivan Chew said...

I'm rooting for ya!