A neighborhood is special because of the people who live there -- and it's made better by the people who help it thrive.
I came along Paul Montesano yesterday working on the median of New Hampshire Avenue with a rake and a pick-axe. Just one guy standing out in the middle of the road tearing up the weeds and grass.
Paul told me that he took it upon himself to come out and try to clean up the median, try to make it healthier and better for the streetscape. "I want to plant some bluestems," he said, "maybe try to get put in some golden rods. I want to show people that with a little effort we can keep it looking nice."
Paul and his family have lived in Petworth since 2008. He said ultimately he wants to start an "outdoor neighborhood service group" or a "collective" of neighbors who are willing to come out and help out. He's thinking of calling it the "Activate Petworth" collective.
"The idea is if you pick up trash on your block, or shovel other people's snow, or participate in park cleanups, then you're already participating (you just don't know it). This thing works better with more people," Paul said. He said he hopes the work on the median can generate some enthusiasm for such an idea.
"One simple way of garnering enthusiasm for basic neighborhood upkeep -- for example, the medians, Grant Circle, any small plot of space -- would be to link a person or family with a single shrub or parcel and have them responsible for weeding and basic upkeep." He was thinking while being a formal organization, it would require a minimal committee. "Maybe others have better ideas," he said.
He's going on a trip soon, so work on the median will continue when he returns. "I'll have to pick up with phase two of the weeding, then mulching and transplanting when we return. The initial hard work was finished yesterday."
"One person, a pick ax and five hours for a roughly 20 foot length of median," he said. "Hopefully this works out. Could be cool."
Related Article: It's about being a good neighbor (May 22, 2015)