Each day, Pecan Park Elementary School students living between Claiborne Avenue and Valley Street walk to and from school on a sidewalk that is trashed, overrun with weeds and fallen leaves, bubbled up by tree roots, missing water meter covers, standing water and just plain unkept. So, on November 21st residents of the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson organized a neighborhood project day called “Coop-a-doodle-doo! Working together, the goal was to take back the sidewalk that leads to Pecan Park Elementary, so the children can use the sidewalk instead of walking in the street!
The day brought together nearly 90 participants to clean up five blocks of sidewalk to create a space that is clean, beautiful and fun to walk on. Most of the volunteers were residents of the community, which was inspiring. They took on ambitious tasks which included cleaning out storm drains, cutting down rotten trees, boarding abandon houses, mowing overgrown lots, planting a sidewalk flower garden, painting fire hydrants and street signs, building a footbridge where tree roots destroyed the concrete, and installing trash bins along the sidewalk.
One resident whose fence was painted by volunteers that day, ended up fring chicken and brought drinks to the potluck lunch to show his appreciation. Abounding Grace Church had a food giveaway event planned for the same day, and when learned about the Coop-a-doodle-doo, decided to participate by bringing all of their prepared food to the event. The Cooperative Community of New West Jackson gifted bags of sweet potatoes, turnip greens and collards from Footprint Farms. Voice of Calvary supplied enough tools to get the jobs done. Harrell Tree Service and Big Ace Demolition lent their big equipment and time to remove big trees and heavy brush. The Center for University-Based Development at JSU helped get student volunteers and donated snacks for the event. The day truly demonstrated community in action!
Two weeks later, residents are still talking about the success of the event. In the past two weeks, Nia Umoja (Lead Organizer) says she has already seen and heard positive changes in the community since the workday. She says students love crossing the bridge to go to school and the children are using the sidewalks to get to school now. She also says water is able to flow into the storm drains easily and the streets are not flooding because the gutters are free of debris. There is also less trash and more people beginning to clean around their property. The City has also been out to repair water breaks that have been running for months since the event!
In the near future, the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson plans on transforming the sidewalk into an interactive cultural and educational “art walk”. This will include inspirational art and games like hop-scotch and checkers that children can play when they walk to and from school, as well as natural play spaces stationed along their way.
For more information about the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson please call 601-454-2143 or email firstname.lastname@example.org