Sunday, May 18, 2014

Our First Neighborhood Cleanup - What Next?

I've just filed the official report with Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania. The first ever Academy Neighborhood Cleanup, held on Saturday, May 17th, had 22 volunteers, who collected 23 large bags of trash. We also picked up one tire and one old television set. Best of all, we had fun and got to meet some of our neighbors.

There are also some code violations that are going to be reported to the city, but I'd rather not detail them here. City officials have assured us that the violations we call in will be dealt with swiftly, so hopefully that actually happens.

If you spent time Saturday cleaning THANK YOU! Working together we accomplished a lot. I also need to thank the folks at Penn Dot for supplying us with gloves and bags, and for allowing us to use a Penn Dot dumpster to get rid of all of the trash. 

Ideas for next time: 

1. An earlier date. There is a weekend, usually at the end of April, that is kind of known as "cleanup weekend". There were a number of events in Erie that weekend, generally coinciding with Earth Day. I didn't know that weekend was the unofficial "cleanup weekend" when I scheduled ours for May 17th. I mean, everything worked out pretty well, except for the fact that some of the large items people left out during Erie's "large item pickup" have been sitting there since that program ended. And actually, as I write this, they are still sitting there, hopefully to be dealt with early this week. 

2. A meeting place to start the event and a meeting place after. It was suggested to me that everyone get together to start the event, so everyone can meet and pick up their supplies. I think this would be a great way to build camaraderie. A small picnic, or at least coffee and donuts for everyone who volunteered, would be nice to have afterwards as well.

3. Beautification. The cleanup was great, but it would be nice to have a beautification aspect to cleanup day. This would be something we could talk about at meetings before next year's cleanup. 

4. Let people know earlier. Hey, everyone! We're having a neighborhood cleanup Saturday, April 25th, 2015!

5. Actually wear the bright orange safety vests Penn Dot gave us. Because we weren't cleaning along a highway, I thought we weren't supposed to wear them. As my group worked its way down E. 30th, I realized we really were pretty close to traffic. Also, one of the goals of the cleanup was to have a PRESENCE and it is impossible to miss anyone wearing one of those vests! I have a stash of them, ready for next year.

Once again, I'd like to thank the people who organized their friends and neighbors on their block for the leadership they exhibited. Our neighborhood is a better place today.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Neighborhood Cleanup - Less than two weeks!

The first ever Academy Neighborhood Cleanup is Saturday, May 17th. Here's an update:

First of all, you can share this poster to help get people involved.

Second, we have gloves and bags, donated by The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation office on Peach Street. We are also allowed to use their dumpster to get rid of the trash we collect in our neighborhood. I will be transporting a truckload (hopefully exactly one truckload) to the dumpster when we are finished.

Here's everything you need to know about the First Academy Neighborhood Cleanup, which is taking place Saturday, May 17th.

When?: Saturday, May 17th 2014. We'll start as early as 9 a.m. and there will be events going on all day at different times. 

What?: What will we do? Several things including:
     1. Working with block leaders to make a "sweep" of small areas near our homes picking up small (and large!) items of trash.
     2. Taking notes about, and photographs of, larger problems and code violations that can be reported to the City of Erie Code Enforcement Office.
Why? The first, most obvious, reason is to actually make the neighborhood look nicer. There are several other goals, however. One is to send a message to people that don't care how the neighborhood looks that they are outnumbered. A second reason is to generate some positive publicity for the neighborhood and the organization. (I'll be sending out a press release and contacting the Erie Times-News and the television stations prior to the event.) Third, once we have an "official" event, we can start asking outside agencies to get involved. Penn-Dot is donating gloves and garbage bags. It might not seem like much but I will be getting in touch with any other local, state, or private agency that I think will be willing to help us. 

Who? You! We need people who can give five minutes, people who can give three hours, and any amount in between. Being a block leader is probably the easiest way to help. We need four more block leaders. The block leaders responsibility is to simply take charge of a small area near their own home, and ask a few neighbors to help out. Reaching out to people in person will be key to making the event successful. Register today by emailing

Don't be confused! There is a cleanup day, with a number of other local organizations, that already happened in April. Next year, we will coordinate our Academy Neighborhood Cleanup with this local effort.