I recently read a fascinating article in Cleveland Magazine: Erick Trickey's Tear it Down! From the opening line, "Cleveland won't be reborn until it buries its dead," a reader can see both the hopelessness of old neighborhoods blighted by abandoned homes, and the promise that those neighborhoods still contain. If only those ruined shells of homes can be made to disappear. (photo to the right by Billy Delfs)
I won't go into further details on this article, on the pros and cons of any initiative to eliminate ruined homes from our neighborhoods. On that I'll just say that if we want to have neighborhoods, we must make them neighborly. However we do it, that starts with getting rid of the junk houses. Not to mention the vermin, vandalism, and violent crime that tends to come with them.
Once an abandoned home is torn down, the lot it's on will often go into a local land bank, from which it can be sold to developers. But one other possibility Trickey mentions that people in my profession might support is the community garden. In a typical community garden, neighbors grow their own vegetables and herbs, maybe even create small farms. (photo from Isles, Inc.)
Trenton, NJ-based Isles, Inc. has a program for developing community gardens and playgrounds. In their program, community and corporate volunteers team up to clear vacant land, set up playground equipment, and help families plant their first gardens. The neighborhood becomes greener and more pleasant; the neighbors find more value in where they live and work harder to maintain it; and surrounding property values tend to go up. Everybody wins!
If a community garden were to be developed in your area, would you volunteer to help out? Would you encourage your company to chip in?
Contact me if you'd like to talk more!