Twenty-eight years ago, in the first year after its election, the Flynn Administration organized volunteer neighborhood cleanups throughout the city, today known as Boston Shines. Michael Reiskind and I were so impressed with the results and enthusiasm shown by our JP neighbors and friends that we decided to repeat the event the following year. With the assistance of the Office of Neighborhood Services and crews from the Public Works, Transportation and Parks Departments and the great citizens of Jamaica Plain, another cleanup was organized.
Every year since then, on the last Saturday in April, we’ve repeated the effort, made successful due to the support and hard work of the Menino Administration and its JP coordinators, especially Colleen Keller and Jullieanne Doherty. But most of all, it has been the proud, involved and committed residents of Jamaica Plain who’ve done the job.
It may be asked, “What’s so important about neighborhood cleanups and why do we put such effort into them?” The reasons are many and varied, but they include:
Public safety. Any streetwise police officer will tell you clean neighborhoods are safe neighborhoods. Those who are likely to commit street crimes in our community, such as break-ins, purse-snatches, assaults, car thefts, drugs deals, etc., have a sixth sense as to which streets and homes are most vulnerable and ripe for the picking. Clean streets and well-maintained homes and yards tell criminals that there live neighbors who care and are watching and protecting their turf. Where there is trash, litter, abandoned cars and graffiti, there is an opportunity for crime.
Pride of place. The satisfaction of living with neighbors and friends who share the same values and rules of urban living; who want to move about and hang out in their own neighborhood with comfort; who want a safe place for their kids to play nearby, to walk the dog, jog or just go for a stroll; all result from streets and parks being kept clean and orderly.
Showing off. It’s great being proud about how nice a place you live, and when friends from out of town or relatives come to visit, there is personal satisfaction in hearing their compliments and approval after seeing how inviting your neighborhood looks, especially when you’ve helped make it that way with your own initiative.
Empowerment. It’s no coincidence that the success of neighborhood cleanups encourages other community involvement. Knowing what can be accomplished fosters additional commitment to the neighborhood. Crime watches, recycling, improving parks, determining zoning issues, public land use, transportation planning and active political involvement all result from learning that we have the power to cause change and get things done.
Those who join this coming April 28 will get the satisfaction that comes from creating a cleaner, safer and more livable Jamaica Plain.
Call Jullieanne Doherty (617-635-3485), Michael Reiskind (617-522-1150) or me (617-522-7506) for more information. We hope to see you Sat., April 28 to make JP shine.
Bob McDonnell lives in Jamaica Plain and has been a spring cleanup organizer for 28 years. He previously served as the first chair of the Southwest Corridor Parkland Management Advisory Committee.