It’s a vicious cycle that begins small. Litter begets litter. Then graffiti appears. And before long, apathy and despair are knocking at the door.
But the reverse cycle also starts out small. A sidewalk is swept. A flower is planted. And pretty soon, a sense of pride and community takes root.
The renaissance underway in many parts of Jamestown today is spurred, more than anything else, by this second cycle. Simple acts of improvement, with broad community participation, are changing mindsets and making waves.
Hands-On Jamestown, the community clean-up day set for Saturday, May 17, will demonstrate the power of simple steps. Hundreds of volunteers will come out, as they have for the past several years, to pick up litter, sweep away the winter grime, plant flowers, and feel better about their city. These volunteers include individuals, families, businesses, neighborhood groups, civic clubs, and churches, with folks from every age bracket and walk of life.
If you haven’t signed-up yet, visit jamestownrenaissance.org, where you can fill-out an online form or download and mail a paper form. You can choose the location where you and your group will focus your energies, or you can be assigned a spot in need of volunteers. Participants will check-in at City Hall at 8am on May 17, where they’ll grab coffee, donuts, t-shirts, and supplies, and then proceed to their projects. The day wraps-up at noon with hog dogs at Tracy Plaza.
One of the featured projects during Hands-On is the filling of downtown planters with fresh flowers, providing color to city streets through early fall. Later this spring, the flowers will be joined by colorful new banners that will hang from downtown lamp posts, along with new information kiosks to guide residents and visitors to downtown attractions and businesses. The flowers, clean sidewalks, and new banners, along with the slew of recent and ongoing renovation projects, are all part of an effort to make downtown a place where people want to live, visit, and invest.
Along with projects in the downtown area, several neighborhoods will have their own clean-up crews hard at work. Last year, residents on Lafayette Street, Lakeview Avenue, Forest Avenue, and elsewhere, helped expand the scope of the event into a citywide effort. On Lakeview Avenue, after months of planning, residents teamed-up with city crews to install a new flower bed and a flowering tree at the corner of Lakeview and Newton, instantly adding character and charm to that neighborhood. This year, the number of neighborhoods involved in Hands-On is expected to at least double.
The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is proud to coordinate Hands-On Jamestown with help from several great sponsors, including M&T Bank, the Gebbie Foundation, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Rotary Club of Jamestown, the City of Jamestown’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation and Department of Public Works, and the BPU. Many area businesses are also assisting the effort through the donation of supplies that will help volunteers do their work while staying hydrated and caffeinated. Those contributions will be recognized on the complimentary t-shirts distributed at the event.
If you have questions about the event or need assistance with registration, please call the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation at 716-664-2477 x226.
This post appeared in The Post-Journal on April 28, 2014, as JRC’s biweekly Renaissance Reflections feature.