Saturday, April 17, 2010

Community Clean-Up On Milwaukee Today

Hey, everyone. Today, I was one of about 20 people that participated in a community clean-up along Milwaukee Avenue. It was absolutely fun and it felt great being part of this activity. Too bad more people didn't show up, though. In this post, I'll explain how this started, then I'll tell you about it then share a couple of photos I took.


The idea of a community clean-up started at the last Beat meeting in March. I don't quite remember who suggested it (I'm thinking most likely Colleen, our Beat Facilitator, did), but it was a great idea. So, then, we talked about this for a couple of weeks over our group mailing list. I won't quite share what was talked about, but we did talk about how to do this.

Today, April 17th, is when the ball went rolling.

I awoke at 7:30 this morning, washed up, did some stuff then I went over to the Dunkin Donuts on Belmont, where we all met. I was one of the first to be there. When I arrived, there was a resident with two staff members from Ald. Reboyras' (30th) Office. Even the alderman himself showed up. For a little while, we all stood around in Dunkin Donuts, waiting for the rest to show up. When they did, we all grabbed our tools and went to work.

We started at Milwaukee and Belmont. I would say five to seven to ten of us stayed there while the other half went south on Milwaukee. I picked up a garbage bag while a little boy (came with his parents) and a resident raked and shoveled the dirt/debris into the garbage bag I was holding for them. I remember seeing all kinds of things in the dirt and debris. I saw cigarette butts, candy wrappers, CTA passes, you name it. We spent about 20 or so minutes at this intersection.

We then worked our way down Milwaukee to Davlin, where we swept/raked/shoveled more. I still held the garbage bag as residents worked to get the dirt and debris into the bag. Our group also was sweeping the sidewalks of dirt and debris into the street so the street cleaners can clean it up.

As we went further south along Milwaukee, I noticed more and more debris and dirt. Items such as beer bottles (some broken, some not) and glass were starting to appear. I would say the dirtest intersection was Milwaukee and Hamlin, where most of the trouble is with the drunks. That's their main corner. At 7:15 this morning, I'm told that there was no less than six of them getting boozed up at that corner. But, despite all of the dirt and debris, we cleaned it up.

Our last corner, before I left to head back over to Dunkin Donuts for an interview (great talk we had by the way, Anne. I enjoyed meeting you), was Milwaukee and Ridgeway. Again, we swept, raked and shoveled the corner.

Raking and shoveling wasn't the only thing in our agenda. We also painted the garbage cans black and rusted them. I think the garbage cans look great after their new "make over". What do you think (photo below; intersection of Milwaukee and Haussen)?

So, all in all, today was a wonderful day. The weather wasn't too shabby in terms of temperature. It was gorgeous outside with the bright sun and blue skies. But the weather doesn't really matter to me. What matters is that we the community cleaned up some of Milwaukee. It looks so much better than before.

I am very happy to have been a part of this project today. Like I said earlier, it felt so great being involved. While we were cleaning, we had a few community members who weren't involved come up to us and asked us what we were doing. We told them "beautifying the community". The residents sounded happy by that news and said next time they were going to help. I think that's great.

I think that this story can apply to other areas of Avondale (east of Central Park, north of Belmont) and other neighborhoods like Logan Square, Hermosa, Irving Park, etc. Quite frankly, I consider this to be a success story on Beat 2523. It's great to see the community so involved in a neighborhood where at one time (more or less last year) it was in a downward spiral. It was on the verge of utter destruction, if you ask me. But us at the CAPS meetings/Neighborhood Association meetings put a bit of a stop to that. We started to call police for nearly everything, we talked to the businesses on Milwaukee Ave. about serving the drunks and today, we cleaned up the street.

But this battle to better this part Avondale ain't over yet. Not by a long shot. We still have lots of work to do. However, you know what? We're getting there. It's getting better slowly but surely. The drunks are getting less and less places to congregate at. And we are tackling the places where they're known to be at. More people are getting involved and the cops are helping us. Today, I am confident and I proudly say that things are going to get better in this neighborhood if we continue to care this much about our community.

In my 16 years and eight months of living in this part of Avondale, I have never seen such a dedicated group of people. Even when our neighborhood was really nice in the 90's, we didn't have this kind of dedication. So I want to send a BIG thank you out to our group, especially Colleen (our Beat Facilitator) for all of your great work in making our neighborhood safer for all. And, of course, a big thanks to our fine boys (and girls) in blue who work for CPD that have to put up with the criminals each and every day.

I want to say that, we should never give up on our neighborhood. We should continue to make it better for all, and I have the greatest faith that we will. Also, for other areas in Avondale and Logan Square, people, start doing the things our group does and your area will become better. Just look at our group for an example.

In conclusion, again, I send a big thank you out to everyone involved in today's work. Next time, I think that we'll only have more people and better results. And, thanks to the owner of Dunkin Donuts for the free coffee and sandwiches!



Here's photos of today's project:

This is Milwaukee Ave. and Haussen Court after we cleaned the intersection. Does it look better than before?

Residents painting the garbage can at the SE corner of Milwaukee and Haussen.

Supplies used to clean up the garbage cans.

Milwaukee Ave. just north of Avers after the clean-up. Notice how better cleaned the sidewalks are?

The intersection of Milwaukee and Hamlin after the clean-up. Those black garbage bags are the ones we used. I'm told by the alderman's staff that they'll be picked up either tomorrow or Monday.


ProdigalOne said...

Thanks for all the hard work of all that participated. You've all set a fine example of what a neighborhood can be when everyone works together. No need to give up on the area because a few misuse it. There is much richness in Avondale, so thanks, Tim, for all that you do to remind us of that.

AvondaleLoganSquareCrimeBlotter said...

No problem, ProdigalOne. You're right, we did set an example what a neighborhood can be when we all work together. Like I said before, if we continue this work, we can make our neighborhood better.

P.S. To everyone - Sorry for the photos saying "04/16" on them. I had my camera set to yesterday on accident.

Anonymous said...

I missed it! when will the next one be? Is there anyway you can publish an email reminder? Thanks so much for all your work, you are amazing!

AvondaleLoganSquareCrimeBlotter said...

Sorry to hear you missed it, anonymous. At the next Beat meeting, I'll ask Colleen (our Beat Facilitator). We all weren't sure about when our next clean-up would be, but we do know we're definatley doing one again. Maybe she'll have a date by the meeting (which is next Wednesday).

AvondaleLoganSquareCrimeBlotter said...

For people interested: We're aiming for either May 15th or May 22nd for the next clean-up. I'll let everyone know what date is decided.

Anonymous said...

Great Thanks for the follow up!!

AvondaleLoganSquareCrimeBlotter said...

The next clean-up will be this Saturday, May 15th. If anyone is interested in coming, you need to email me and let me know so I can let our person in charge of it know.