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Citizens seek to clean up South Side

Published: Thu, August 18, 2011 @ 12:02 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern



A South Side citizens group wants to clean up its neighborhood, starting with several blocks around Taft Elementary and Wilson Middle schools.

“We have brand-new, multi- million-dollar schools and nothing but blight around them,” said Patricia Dougan, project director for the 7th Ward Citizens Coalition.

The unkempt appearance can give the impression that “this is not a healthy or friendly neighborhood,” she added.

The coalition is gathering volunteers for a neighborhood cleanup Saturday and Aug. 27.

“We’re calling all residents to pick up their pitchforks and rakes. We’re not storming city hall, but we’re storming the neighborhood,” said coalition president Chris Travers.

The cleanup is only the start of what Travers and Dougan hope to be a long-term partnership with the schools.

“When it gets cold, we’ll try to start book clubs and tutoring,” Dougan said. “We’re adopting the schools.”

When it comes to revitalizing a neighborhood “you find a jewel and move out from there,” she said.

Jennifer Jones, the city’s Litter Control and Recycling coordinator, said her department will provide some materials to volunteers.

“Rather than strictly focusing on litter, we’re also looking at cutting grass, too, because those lots attract litter and crime,” she said.

Dougan said volunteers are needed not only for cutting grass and boarding up vacant homes, but also to serve lunch and distribute water and gloves. Many organizations already have agreed to volunteer, including local block watches, DeMar Realty, Youngstown Contracting, the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative and the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods.

“And we’re challenging all graduates of Wilson to show up and help,” Dougan said.

She said the neighborhood can’t rely on city government to take care of every problem, especially as the city coffers continue to dwindle.

“We have to fight for what we have and take care of it,” Dougan said.

The cleanup begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and another cleanup will begin at the same time Aug. 27.

Volunteers should meet at Taft Park, adjacent to the Taft Elementary School, at East Boston and Homestead Avenues. Lunch will be served about 1 p.m.

The coalition will discuss details of the project at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. today in the Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana auditorium, 3660 Shirley Road. For more information, email info@7wcc.org.


1whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

keep up the good work, have to start somewhere....

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2VindyPost(436 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

(that's right whitesabbath...have to start somewhere)

Saturday, Aug. 29th 9:30 AM
Taft Park E.Boston/Homestead

Great Approach!! ...Patricia Dougan and Chris Travers, others.

Well, Here it is "a plea is out there". Volunteers needed. Many, many folks on vindy.com are from the Southside area either graduated from Wilson or Mooney or spent time at Eateries, Bars, Pemberton Pool & Baseball, Rollercade, etc. Spread the word! We hear of the good ol' days and what this neighborhood "used" to be...how about take this one (1) day into consideration? Or do we need 13 year-olds from a church ministry across the US like Idora neighborhood? I may, and didn't even live there! It truly was a fantastic neighborhood with great families, morals, and values. There is Hope. They just need Help. Articles like this and spear-heading is key. Perhaps stop with the negativity (just one day) and give a much needed helping hand. It may rub off to others.
Just an encouraging thought. :>)

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3rushblvd(15 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

This is a great idea that these neighborhood groups are doing.. It not only cleans up a blighted area, but it changes the attitudes of those around it. I think 1-hr out of someone’s day is not asking a lot--
Count me in....
Vindy good reporting---need more Positive stories and less negative

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4pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

@severthis - This article is not a "plea", it is an announcement. To let people know that a group who actually CARES about their neighborhood and their kids, is taking the initiative to come in and help clean it up, and inviting them to get out there with us and make their neighborhood a better place.

Cleaning up a neighborhood and keeping it that way is about self-sufficiency, you're right. And perhaps THIS will be a catalyst to get the residents of this neighborhood motivated to do just that. You're correct about something else, as well. It may not be the "responsibility" of others to do this. I don't have kids in either Taft or Wilson, and don't even live in that particular neighborhood. HOWEVER, I care about those kids. I care about their safety, and I care that they can know that there is something better for them and their future, than what they see right now.

THAT is what this is about. So rather then being cynical, if you're not going to come out and help, then at least wish us well.

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5TonyB(38 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

This reminds me of the story about giving fish and teaching how to fish.

The current conversation among providers of social services and recipients is not working. Some social service agencies seem intent to define their clients and residents as passive beneficiaries of community benefits.

For example, by giving away free clean up campaigns to those in need simply rewards irresponsible behavior. Why should people clean up their neighborhood when there are do gooders that look down their nose at them and then will clean up the neighbor for them?

Rather than professionals and community leaders jumping in to improve the material and physical assets of a community, they could focus on improving the social and civic infrastructure of that community

For example, people could be invited by the community leaders to join in and take part in a new conversation on the basis that everyone has a contribution to make which is valuable to their community, irrespective of disability, gender, race, age, or religion.

How about having a conversation to ask residents what they would do in terms of community projects? Lets engage people in project planning, decision making and implementation.

If the vision is an engaged citizen then the way to get there is to create ways for people to be learn and be active.

Please, no more free fish. http://tbmw.org/

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6crimelander(122 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Let's not deter people from trying.

The reason why help should be coming from city hall is because they have the collective resources and legal power to deal with the problems. What they lack is space in the County jail (perhaps they should open their own?)

Yeah, throw the land abusers, absentee landlords out of compliance habitually, the dope dealers, etc. in jail. That would be cleaning up the area.

Instead we'll run around cleaning up syringes, chore boys, glass crack pipes, spent condoms, broken glass, Mc'Litter, soda and chip wrappers. We just clean up the crappy bed pans while the chronically ill mental deficient trouble makers continue to roam around making more mess.

The city and these groups need to do EVERYTHING and simultaneously.

Get city officials down there and have them writing up citations until their hands are numb. Keep the pressure on the problems and clean up at the same time.

Establish a plan to address this in mass scale.

Otherwise, the weeds and high grass will be back before winter, so will the trash and the trash causing problems.

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7pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Someone said it above, and I'll say it again - it has to start somewhere.

We care enough about the kids in this neighborhood to want to try and clean up their path to school.

Simple as that.

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8AnotherAverageCitizen(1194 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

If you want to see the volunteers, go see them. Don't just wait for pictures.
There will be no riots. Just good folks out trying to do the right thing. Too bad there is such negativity out here.

My praise goes out to all who step up and clean up. What a GREAT idea.

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9pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Thank You, AAC!

And there will be pics posted both on our facebook group page and at mahoningvalleytalk.com by tomorrow night or Sunday morning.

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10pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

@ Thomas53 - you can see the pics, they are posted on our Facebook group page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/10521... .

We had somewhere between 30 - 35 volunteers. We got quite a bit of cleanup accomplished, and had lunch afterwards. Even fed some of the neighborhood kids.

It was a good day.

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