As I piled on another layer yesterday morning, debating which jacket provided the best warmth-to-mobility ratio, I was dubious about the turn-out for the Glass Street Day of Service. It was cold. And a holiday. Were people really going to venture outside and pick up trash?
In short. Yep.
When I arrived at 8:45am, the Glass House Collective main room was already bustling. By 9am, the place was packed with around fifty volunteers and project “champions”. More came and went throughout the day. We almost ran out of work to do.
That’s just awesome.
The neighbors of Glass Street convinced me yesterday that change really was happening in their area. Not because of the city programs and GHC’s long-term vision I have known about for a while, but because these people were here in front of me making it happen.
Over the course of the day, as bricks and OSB boards gleamed under a new coat of crisp white paint, I heard stories. Like Daniel’s, an interior designer who is both living in and restoring a “mess” of a gorgeous Victorian home a few streets over. He is invested here. And he is dedicated to making good on that investment. With the eye of a creative professional, he can see past the overgrown sidewalks he was cleaning the same way he can see beyond the layers of ugly wallpaper. “If only more people would dream… and then do something about it!”
Kelly and her husband (getting over a cold, no less) seemed to be answering Daniel’s wish. Also new homeowners, they were out all morning because they love their neighborhood, and they want to improve “what we see every day.” Gail, a LAUNCH graduate prepping her pop-up flee market for the upcoming Better Block weekend, similarly embodies this spirit of individual change agency. She had noticed a thick layer of leaves in the neighborhood welcome area last week. And so she had pulled out a rake.
Perhaps my cheeriest conversation was with two lovely ladies who told me they were highschool friends catching up on the past five, er, fifty years. They had mastered a teamwork method for picking up trash that allowed for both efficiency and gab. “My father owned two stores along here” I was informed. “One around the corner you can’t see, and the other has a big sign on it that says ‘Open Now.’”
That was about a century ago. Ironically, the “Open Now” storefront is closed. But it received a fresh layer of paint yesterday that speaks of promise. Promise of new businesses opening on the street, of friends running into one another, and of neighbors making their hometown their own.
Written by: Emily Talley