Last Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in some of LAND's day to day work in the community. I was at LAND researching information for my lead piece as the day was coming to a close.
Toni, Delores and Isaiah had planned to go out to 39th street to hand out some flyers reminding residents of several upcoming meetings and to encourage residents to attend - specifically two that were planned for Saturday, May 3rd.
The first meeting was hosted at LAND by HRI, Housing Resources, Inc. I found this very interesting because I actually implemented their website. However, this wasn't the primary focus of our excursion.
The true purpose was to engage residents on 39th street about a "pilot project" focusing on crime prevention through environmental beautification. In general, the philosophy behind this project is that drugs and crime are attracted to areas that aren't well maintained, including blocks with boarded/vacant houses and open lots.
LAND had been given a $5000 grant to start the project on 39th street, and if it succeeded over time, they would use it as a model for other target areas.
As we were walking down 39th street, we encountered a wide variety of people. We encountered a couple of new homeowners with a young child who were passionate about improving the block. We also ran into some young boys on the porch of their home, and Toni asked them if they had summer jobs lined up and tried to convince them to come to LAND and work over the summer.
As we were talking with the two boys, a car with spinners on the wheels and a huge stereo system that shook the ground below us drove by. The drivers of the car called out to the boys and they shouted back. Toni looked at them disappointedly and asked, "What was that?". Embarassed, they said their friends were driving the car. At this point, Toni wished them well and encouraged them to come to the following day's meeting, and we continued on.
We encountered several other residents who were enthusiastic about talking with Toni and seemed grateful that she was trying to better their neighborhood. But, it was clear that the motivations of LAND and that of the residents weren't exactly identical. Nobody that we spoke to showed up the next day.