It was cold Monday morning. Junko pulled her hat down lower and surveyed the work sites. While Saanjh, Rochelle, and I stood expectantly at the Lederer Gardens gates waiting for our partners and volunteers to arrive. Slowly and then all at once everyone flowed through the gates meeting, greeting, cheesing. We were excited that our friends and colleagues had shown up to support the community that calls Marvin Gaye Park their green space.
Jacqueline Ellison, Small Parks Specialist held forth sharing the depth of meaning that brought Soul Trak, Salesforce, and the DC Department of Parks out on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This meeting of over fifty people would give the community a deeper sense of pride. It would also connect us to the Park as we learned about its history, the opportunities that it offers to locals, and plans that would change many lives. We all spoke, Tyrhee, Executive Director, Junko and I, Soul Trak staff, directing, and connecting people with a brief introduction game, asking everyone to choose a person they did not know, get to know them, whether this was their first Soul Trak event and what was their favorite outdoor activity. With a good deal of chatter going on, we managed to urge everyone onto the path in four separate groups to tend to areas west of the Gardens and along the creek. Led by Edoardo, Lehna, and Samantha.
There were many enthusiastic participants, really dedicated workers. Most of the trash was found along the borders of the parks by fences and collected along the creek banks. As the sun, moved higher up in the sky, many made a game of finding trash and even wading into the creek to get trash caught along hard-to-reach creek banks. What was even more notable, were the smiles that many people wore as they worked. This could be owed to the music that the ingenious Salesforce team streamed at our gathering spot or it could be that it was a group of really good people enjoying their time outside….I couldn’t tell. There were many, many reasons, for the smiles in this time spent with community.
You might have seen pictures of little children with trash pickers and friends laughing as they reached for flung tires or car seats from this event… So needless to say the event was effective in so many ways. We brought so many people together, we learned about the park and collected 1,410 lbs of trash from a half mile of this cherished local park many people call home. We hope that we made a lasting impact on the community and have established long-lasting relationships with all who came out!
See you at the next one!