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Case Studies

The Importance of Volunteers for Reimagining Cleveland

When trying to implement any project with a limited amount of resources such as money, time, and manpower, having volunteers is a godsend. Having volunteers allows projects to be implemented that otherwise wouldn’t be done if volunteers weren’t available. Reimagining Cleveland utilizes volunteers from the community to beautify their neighborhoods while simultaneously improving the environment of the area. Some of the existing projects in Cleveland include the Brooklyn Centre Community Orchard, the Watterson-Lake School Community Garden, and the Simmons Park though there are many projects throughout Cleveland as these only number a few of the examples.

Brooklyn Centre Community Orchard

On the corner of West 34th Street and Louisiana Avenue is the Brooklyn Centre Community Orchard. Organized and managed by Johanna Hamm, Darren Hamm, and Brian Avery, the orchard was a result collaborated design and implementation from members within the community. Johanna summarizes the project, “This project is intended not only to bring fresh, healthy fruit into our neighborhood, but to reconnect people with the source of their food. By reclaiming lost lands and traditions, we ultimately envision residents establishing a stronger physical and spiritual bond with their natural environment.” The orchard layout was rendered and designed by volunteers from the community. Other community members volunteer their time by digging up holes for the trees, planting the trees, and maintaining the trees through watering, spraying, and pruning. Those community members with expertise in horticulture lend their talents as well for plant care and maintenance knowledge. The community members also provide general routine maintenance like picking up litter and mowing the grass.

Watterson-Lake Learning Garden

Watterson-Lake School is located in the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood on 1449 West 75th Street. The idea behind the community garden is that the size of the garden would be determined by the number of volunteers that would work in the garden – the more volunteers the projects can round up, the larger the garden will be which was described in the project plan. Obviously, volunteers are quite important for this project to work. Besides tending to the garden and growing the vegetables itself, volunteers will also be responsible for doing the construction work around the garden and regular maintenance including weeding common areas, cleaning the gardens, mowing, etc. Finally, there will also be a few people in the leadership position making sure everything runs smoothly by managing community members and coordinating logistics and maintenance for the entire garden. One of the early members of the is Michelle deBock who wrote the grant proposal to get funding for this project.

Simmons Park

Simmons Park is a pocket park located on West 58th Street and Bridge Avenue. A pocket park is a park that is tucked between two buildings on a vacant lot. This park will be run by community members around the area. There is at least one community member to be the head of the projects dealing with the logistics and management of the problems. Other community members will do the daily maintenance; installation of seating and lighting; maintaining and tending to the plants and trees within the gardens depending on their strengths and expertise.

these are JUST few examples of projects in taking place and proposed as part of Reimaging Cleveland that rely heavily on volunteers. As these and other projects take shape, maintaining a volunteer base that can provide assistance with planning, building, installing, maintaining, and providing leadership will be crucial.

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