Isn’t it amazing what can happen when a public park is built by the community in an at-risk neighborhood? Following are two examples of the changes that can occur – interestingly enough, both of these community projects were built at corners, and both were built at sites that, until recently, were occupied by structures.
It can be a scary scenario when a corner lot opens in a residential neighborhood. Often times the lot sits vacant and collects garbage, thus attracting other bad elements to the spot. Vacant corners are also susceptible to parking lots, which can be major eyesores if not landscaped properly.
Corner parks like the one we see in the lead photo (corner of West and York at Porter) can generate a feel good quality that transcends the neighborhood (see back story). This corner was always lacking in the cosmetic department. There was always a disconnect that divided the different blocks, rather than helping to bring them together. This is an important corner due to the various intersecting streets – the garden is visible from Morning Glory Cafe, D’Youville College and the Porter Avenue Pied à Terre.
Just as the Porter Avenue public garden is producing results, this past weekend’s 24-Hour Mural-athon event in the Grant-Amherst community has also worked wonders (see back story). The project has brought people together in a way that is rarely witnessed. Both young and old worked around the clock (even throughout the night) painting a mural that is highly visible from the busy intersection.
The mural also acts as a connector to two different commercial districts that have been working hard to rebrand their images. This project was a collaboration between the businesses and the residents. Longstanding businesses like Niemiec Builders Supply donated time and materials to get the job done, while the art community rallied with the help of 464 Gallery and friends. Some of the most energetic volunteers were the young kids who had never even picked up a paintbrush – it’s not often that so much is gained by painting a mural.
It is the collaboration of people that made both of these projects such great successes. We have witnessed so many of these collaborative efforts recently that we almost expect to see them in places that are in need. What used to be a rarity is now almost commonplace. These efforts are contagious and lead to stronger communities that in turn create more ideas and community initiatives.