Sunday, December 2, 2007

New Latona Garden Addresses Old Problem

November 19th marked a new day for neighbors living at Latona and Thornton. Dozens of residents turned out to pack a vacant lot that has been notorious as a dumping ground (and worse) for decades.

Residents from one of the Bayview's most organized blocks (Latona runs a short distance along the crest above the Third Street Youth Center) have been meeting with city officials on a regular basis for years attempting to clean up the problem. Their new strategy - taking community control and trying an innovative, positive response - already seems to have made a bigger difference.

Some of the Bayview's longest-term residents, like Bob Grover and Irene Molinari (who grew up on the block in the 1930's), were among the first to respond when Shelby Garella and Rhonda Winter put out a call to talk about a community garden at Latona and Thornton.

A diverse group gathered, and each member - passionate about strengthening community, turning a tenacious nuisance into a place of beauty, and providing food for neighbor's tables - expressed commitment to positive change.

The Quesada Gardens Initiative and other residents just a couple blocks away, working with the Southeast Health Clinic and the BVHP Foundation for Community Improvement, are supporting the neighbors on Latona. The Quesada Gardens' model has proved to be a promising strategy for addressing crime, violence and quality of life issues.

(Picture: Jim Ansbro, longtime Latona resident, shakes the hand of a younger neighbor as both work to clear the hillside by the new garden.)

1 comment:

rhondawinter said...

This Latona garden project has been incredibly inspiring. The support from our neighbors and local residents has been overwhelmingly positive. The lovely people at Mazzei G & Sons Hardware store on Third Street have already made two donations to our neighborhood effort without our even asking. They are just as enthused as the rest of us that momentum is being built to transform what was a putrid skanky dump into a beautiful shared community space; Mazzei Hardware is another great example of a conscientious family-owned small local businesses reinvesting in the neighborhood to help create positive change. Many thanks to everyone who has been contributing to this effort. We have scheduled a work day on February 2nd (Groundhog Day!) to install raised beds and socialize. More on that later.