Leonardo Dorcett: helping to make a better neighborhood

I'd like to introduce you to Leonardo Dorcett, a gentleman whom I've come to respect and appreciate, and someone who I believe deserves recognition for his work in the community. Work that most people don't know about. 

This is the first Petworth News Video, a partnership between myself and another Petworth resident, Justin Dent. Our goal with this new video series is to shine a spotlight on the people, places and events that help make Petworth a great neighborhood, and who often go overlooked. We hope you get to know Leonardo and the other people we'll feature, and have a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes to make Petworth a better neighborhood for us all.

If you know someone you believe is a change maker in the community who might be interested in being interviewed, please submit a nomination.

Petworth News Video: 
Leonardo Dorcett, a Petworth Change Maker

Leonardo Dorcett moved to Petworth eight years ago from Brightwood, and quickly made Petworth his neighborhood. Semi-retired but still working at this and that, Mr. Dorcett clearly has passion for his community. Living on Georgia Avenue, across the street from a small park between Upshur and Taylor, he began to notice that the park was often dirty with litter, leaves, snow and other debris that made it unenjoyable for residents. Instead of just complaining about it, he took matters into his own hands.

The park at 9th and Upshur, Taylor and Georgia Avenue.

For years now, Mr. Dorcett has gone out to the little triangular park and cleaned it, picking up and bagging litter, clearing leaves from the walkways, under the benches and in the bushes. During the holidays he's the first out there to help decorate the trees. And then the first to go out and clean up the decorations after the holidays.

Mr. Dorcett watches out for the park and the people in it. He knows the kids waiting for the bus, and admonishes those who drop a bottle instead of tossing it in a garbage can. Walking his dog around the park, he chats with the homeless men who hang out on the benches, making sure they're ok. He talks with the regulars, the people from the neighborhood, and on Fridays makes sure that 9th Street is cleaned up and ready for the Petworth Community Farmer's Market.

Mr. Dorcett often hires kids from the area and others from his own building to come out and help collect leaves, paying from his own pocket for their work. He doesn't ask for reimbursement or recognition, he just wants to make sure the park is clean.

For several years now, Mr. Dorcett has talked about the lack of city services at the park. He wants the city to step it up and do more.

He thinks the park needs more trashcans (there used to be two additional cans in the middle of the park, but they were removed). He's spoken with Muriel Bowser when she was the Ward 4 Councilmember, he's spoken at the ANC 4C meetings and reached out to DPW, DPR and other city agencies. He's spoken with Brandon Todd, the new Ward 4 Councilmember and he's pushed to get the DPW "Green Team" to come out to the park to take of litter, leaves and snow. 

His efforts in working with city agencies have paid off, somewhat. The Green Team now comes out and cleans the park, but they're not consistent, and they don't clear out the trash and tree leaves from the bushes, so Mr. Dorcett still takes care of that. 

I'm not sure who notices that this little park stays as clean as it does. Perhaps people think the city comes out regularly.

It's Leonardo Dorcett who comes out regularly, who pays others with his own money to help him keep the neighborhood park clean. It's Leonardo Dorcett who is a change maker in the Petworth community, and who deserves a moment to shine.

My thanks to Leonardo Dorcett for agreeing to be interviewed and filmed, and to Justin Dent for his amazing video skills.

If you know someone you believe is a change maker in the community who might be interested in being interviewed, please submit a nomination

Justin Dent is the founder of Dent Digital, a video production company located in Washington DC.  He lives with his wife and daughter in Petworth and enjoys a cold beverage at the Citizen from time to time, don't be a stranger! You can find him on Twitter and Instagram, and some of his videos on Vimeo.