GOODat chalkboards

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday was the third annual Baptist Town Community Day. The theme was GOODat, and hundreds of residents came together and participated in activities celebrating the skills and talents of individuals and the neighborhood. Pictures of the day are coming soon, but here are some photos of the prep work that went into creating the blackboards used throughout the event.

a playground at last

Three little girls sat on a bench yesterday evening pointing at each new piece of playground equipment. “I’m going to play on that one, and I’m going to play on that one, and I’m going to play on that one.” As concrete footings were drying volunteers had to remind neighborhood kids that the playground wouldn’t be open until this morning.

Through the many surveys conducted in Baptist Town over the past ten years, residents have consistently emphasized the need for activities for children, specifically a playground. Despite this, when I began my job in January, no funding for a playground was in place. That changed when I met Cyndi Long from a local office of GE Capital Aviation Services. We began to work together, and she supported our grant application to the GE Volunteer Foundation. Cyndi and her co-workers were flexible and creative, and joined us in leading a kid’s only community meeting in April to brainstorm with neighborhood kids what they most wanted in the playground. As a result, we won a grant from the GE Volunteer Foundation for $4,000, and the local GECAS branch sponsored approximately $3,500 in play equipment and supplies. A crew of GE volunteers to construct the park was also a part of the grant award.

8 AM from south

Yesterday, twenty-eight volunteers from GECAS, including Greenwood residents and many who drove down from Memphis, brought to life what had previously only existed on paper. Starting with swings and bouncers on a grassy site in the morning, the group wrapped up the day with a completed playground by evening. When I visited the site this morning, the three little girls were true to their word – playing on every piece of equipment we had installed. In the short time I visited today, a dozen kids jumped, slid, climbed and see sawed. I know this demographic is enjoying the result of this project, but the realization of something so long asked for seems important to the community as a whole. “Hopeful” is a word I have heard a lot in regard to the playground project. I am honored to be a part of something hopeful, and am looking forward to GOODat day on Saturday where we continue to celebrate the people of Baptist Town of all ages.

I am grateful to so many people for realizing this playground. As I continue to work in the field of social impact design, each project demonstrates that nothing is completed by an individual, but is the product of many collaborators. Obviously, GE and Cyndi played huge roles, but whether you drove a truck, lent a wheelbarrow, lent a hand, wrote about the day, or enjoy hanging up-side-down from the monkeybars: thank you, this would not have happened without you.

sidewalks

sidewalks start

The construction of a sidewalk along one of the entryways into Baptist Town is an exciting ground breaking. Promises of projects in this neighborhood have existed for a long time, and I hope that residents are as happy to see some evidence of all the work that has been going on behind the scenes as I am.

This sidewalk (and street lights and trees soon to follow) will improve the appearance of the entries to the neighborhood, but more importantly they will provide a safe place to walk. Hopefully residents will feel more comfortable walking downtown, to school or to visit friends once they don’t have to walk in the street. The prospect of people saving money, burning calories and not using gasoline reminded me of a study a friend of mine did a few years ago that proposed a lifestyle independent of oil. One of her blog posts discussed the efficiency of walking and biking over driving:

As for biking and walking, they have no competition… Biking (calculating human calorie energy expended) is equivalent to 759,493.7 miles per gallon and walking (burning 100 calories an hour) is equivalent to 314,782.17 miles per gallon.  Biking is 19,230.8 times more efficient than driving your subcompact car and walking is 7,886.4 times more efficient.  Walking burns about 60 more calories per hour than biking making it less ‘energy efficinet’, but as my roommate pointed out looking at these numbers, when it comes to your own energy, suddenly energy expenditure looks like a good thing.  After all, its renewable 🙂 Eat a sandwich. 

miles per gallon comparison

stake holders

20130502_104025

Greenwood Utilities continues to provide excellent support for the Baptist Town project even in the muddy conditions shown here. The stakes show construction boundaries and light locations for a pocket park, designed by landscape designer Brantley Snipes, to be constructed in May with students from the Carl Small Town Center and Harvard’s Kennedy School.

As we squished through the mud today, I thought of how individuals and organizations can choose to be flexible, helpful contributors to a project, or introduce difficulties and limit progress. I have encountered both here in Greenwood, but in either case they provide lessons in how to support rather than hinder projects.