Posts tagged: greening neighborhoods

GRASSROOTS GREENING: PLANTING GROWS COMMUNITY

By , May 7, 2009 12:13 pm

The “One Small Thing” method of Creative Edge Focusing (TM) helps organizations find that one small step people will take to become motivated and engaged. Building Community through Listening/Focusing Partnerships/Groups/Teams  is an easy outgrowth of these first collaborative efforts. Below is an example of the “one small thing” that turned a traffic lane into a green and walkable neighborhood.

“Grassroots Greening —  Two Bike Lanes, 3 Miles of Green Space, and a Hundred New Friends: How One Woman Transformed a Neighborhood” (Sunset magazine, May 2009, pp.46-49) tells how Gillian Gillett, who bought a home on a busy intersection and six-lane thoroughfare in San Francisco, created a neighborhood community by starting with “one small thing” — she collected 300 signatures on a traffic calming petition” needed by the city to consider safety improvements. “While the traffic slowed down (the speed limit was reduced from 40 to 25), her plan to make her neighborhood more people-friendly sped up.”

By Fall of 2004, Gillett had received a $75,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for neighborhood revitalization. She got bike lanes added and traffic lanes reduced from six to four. She got a traffic light installed. Now she and others could cross the street to the nearby hospital! This “one small step” now allowed the area to become a walkable “neighborhood.”

Gillett and her husband found themselves now the core of a group of activists, including neighbors, schools, and merchants, all suddenly seeing themselves as part of this neighborhood. Gillett and her husband Jeff Goldberg started looking for the next step in building a community. Research and canvassing pointed in the same direction: planting trees, plants, greening a neighborhood builds a community.

They got permission to plant the highway median, the only greenspace available. At the same time, the mayor of San Francisco got on board, proclaiming that 5000 trees a year be planted in SF and appointing a “green czar” to help it happen.

The first planting, of two blocks of median, had 126 participants. The next, 400.  “We do the plantings as a block party with a band and food and participation of local merchants, “Gillett explains. “Before this project, traffic was so heavy that people didn’t really know their neighbors. It’s really contributing to the resiliency of the neighborhood.”

And another quote from the article: “This project connected me to the neighborhood,” Gillett says of her now seven-year quest to improve not only her own block but her entire community. “This was never about plants. It was about making a neighborhood I could walk in. Drivers in their cars think of this road as a way to get to the highway. We think of it as home.”

The article ends with a listing “Green in the hood” community-based greening projects around the West : Seattle’s www.groundswellnw.org , Portland’s www.cityrepair.org , LA’s www.laguerrillagardening.org  , national urban forestry support at www.treelink.org/nucfac , and Gillett’s organization, www.sanjosequerrero.com .

See the article, at www.sunset.com , for details.

You can share your own experiences of being the “first” in your neighborhood with greening at [email protected].

See Empowerment Organization at Creative Edge Focusing (TM) for more examples and “The One Small Thing” Focusing exercise.

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)’s Culture of Creativity  fights apathy by engaging every person  at the Creative Edge of individual experiencing. Whether in Creative Edge Education or Creative Edge Organizations, Listening/Focusing Turns are used as a basic method for helping people to find and articulate their own Creative Edge.

Creative Edge Focusing and Creative Edge Listening can be used for problem solving at home and at work, alone, in parenting and relationships, during interpersonal conflict, and in group or community decision making situations. The Creative Edge Pyramid describes applications from Focusing Alone to Creative Edge Organizations.

For application in business settings, see my article, “Creative Edge Organizations: Businesses and Organizations As A ‘Kind’ Of Focusing Community” from The Folio: Thirtieth Anniversity Tribute edition at The Focusing Institute, www.focusing.org .

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