On Nov.4th we were able to meet with Griselda, Jenny, and Jasmine, and students at Lincoln High School to discuss what service project they wanted to plan next. But before we dived into planning, we played a little game that enabled us to get to know each other a little bit more. Each of us drew our name in the middle of a piece of paper and then drew three different things in our lives that we love. Griselda (pictured left) shared with us that she loves her birthday, her family, and tacos!
When we began discussing with the students what their ideas were concerning their next service project, they agreed that they wanted to participate in organizing a COMMUNITY CLEANUP! Before confirming, we first wanted to acknowledge the power dynamics of those who make it possible for the streets to be dirty in Lincoln Heights.
With support from Crystal, the students began to acknowledge how power is distributed in the community in order to understand how effective a community clean up can be in building a healthy community. As Jenny explained, “Well if we clean the streets for one day, they’re just going to get dirty again”, which I found to be a very true statement! As a group we are able to realize that although cleaning the streets once isn’t a permanent solution we are working towards impacting the value that the community has on the cleanliness of their streets.
Not only do clean streets create more of an appealing environment, but they also promote the overall health of the community. Dirty streets could contain harmful chemicals, bacteria, and even cause community members to injure themselves if the litter isn’t seen in time. Through all our discussions I have come to realize that the only way for us to be able to create sustainable solutions for the garbage left on the streets is for us to attempt to raise awareness in the community about how this litter is affecting our physical, emotional, and social economic health as a city. Bringing awareness to your family and friends that littering truly isn’t helping your neighborhood is a great place to start. Another possible solution is for there to be more trash cans available for people to use on the streets. People may not feel the need to throw the trash else where if there are more trash cans readily available for them. We could also attempt to motivate families to recycle and/or create compost bins thus hopefully decreasing the amount of waste disposed of improperly onto the streets. A factor that may increase the amount of dirty streets in the neighborhood is the idea that certain streets are being skipped over by street cleaning services due to the intense amounts of garbage covering the streets; there may be benefits for us, as a youth community, to talk to our community leaders and discuss how this problem may be solved. Although there are many things that we, as individuals, can do towards creating sustainable solutions we must work as a team if we really want to see positive results!
Jasmine admitted she was one of those people that leave their trash on the ground sometimes, but she thinks it’s because there are not that many trash cans on the streets and it’s a lot easier to just leave it there. The students were able to talk about what they, as residents of this community, could do to create a more enjoyable living environment and what news they could share to others that would motivate them to do the same. Knowing that this was not an action that would solve our problem, they still wanted to host such event and understood the benefits and limitations to cleaning up the streets with other committed students.
Next, we created an action plan for our Community Clean-Up. First, we would advertise the event verbally to recruit students to participate. Team leaders would recruit 5 people each and would give an update next week. We would provide food and community service hours to those that participated. Last, we made a list of what materials were needed for this event to be carried out. As we looked at the date for the event and how many weeks are left in our internship, many of us were surprised to realize how fast the semester is flying by!
Written: 4th December 2014