After spending many dreary winter months indoors watching television and seeing dust bunnies accumulate, folks are often ready to engage in a flurry of ritual and activity known as spring cleaning. Even the most seasoned winter couch potato (hey, I'm one of them) has been known, at spring's onset, to open windows, drawers and cupboards, get out cleaning supplies, bags and gardening tools, and go to work clearing out the accumulated debris indoors and tend to lawns, garages and walkways outdoors.
Spring cleaning is an important ritual for people (I'm one of them) who want the lightness and brightness of the new season reflected in their homes and around their neighborhoods. Part of what makes winter so dreary is the isolation of spending endless gray winter days indoors. The part of spring cleaning I dislike is being indoors cleaning when outside there are other people -- people I might like to meet -- involved in outdoor projects.
I recently found the perfect opportunity to fulfill my urge to clean and to meet other people in the process -- not to mention a way to improve my lovely city/neighborhood/block. Keep Cincinnati Beautiful has several programs to choose from: Adopt-A-Spot, Adopt-A-Block, Daffodils & Day Lilies and The Great American Cleanup. They're free, they're fun, they're cathartic and they're giving me a sense of pride -- even a sense of ownership -- in this city I call home.
The Adopt-A-Block program is a clean-up and beautification program that encourages neighborhood residents to work on improving their neighborhoods by cleaning littered lots, cutting grass and high weeds, planting flowers, and removing graffiti.
It occurs at least once a month on both sides of the chosen block(s) and anyone can do it. No previous experience is necessary. Each Adopt-A-Block participant receives public recognition in the form of an attractive sign (installed by the City's Public Works Department) within the adopted area. Participants' names are posted to inform neighbors who made the neighborhood more attractive. The sign might also inspire others to join in the effort. You can even adopt a block individually.
Similar to the Adopt-A-Block program is the Adopt-A-Spot program which, as its name suggests, focuses on cleaning up a particular spot or area (e.g., a park, a traffic island, a vacant lot, a corner) instead of a specific block or street. Both programs offer an opportunity to invest in your community, expand your spring cleaning from indoors to the outdoors, and get to know your neighborhood better by working with other residents. After all, the flavor of any area is determined by the involvement of its residents. Add your own unique flavor to your neighborhood by getting involved in one of these programs.
For gardeners (and those interested in a getting involved in gardening) the Daffodils & Day Lilies beautification program offers a wonderful opportunity to use your skills to bring spring to Cincinnati and contribute to Cincinnati's overall beauty year-round. Over 50,000 daffodils and daylilies will bloom in eight spots along Cincinnati's highways this year thanks to this program. Since spring is the beginning of more highway construction projects, wouldn't it be nice to see something besides orange barrels popping up along roadsides? Think of the satisfaction you'll get from personally contributing to beautifying everyone's commute into the city.
Finally, for the ultimate pride-enhancing experience, check out the Great American Cleanup. It's the nation's largest organized litter prevention, beautification and community improvement program. Activities include litter removal, recycling, park clean-up, painting and renewal programs, graffiti removal, beautification and refurbishing projects and clothes collection. The Cleanup also includes river, lake and seashore activities. During last year's Cleanup locally, 10,000 volunteers collected approximately 460,000 pounds of litter and 2,000 tires. During that same time, volunteers planted 1,000 flowers and trees.
This year, the Cleanup is expected to mobilize more than two million volunteers across the U.S. In Cincinnati, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful provides supplies and technical assistance to solicit volunteers for communities that participate. This year's Cleanup in Cincinnati will be April 21.
Imagine, you can join others to create your own personal "Ode to Spring in Cincinnati." Besides becoming a part of a local movement to tidy up local spaces, you'll be part of a national movement as people work together to Keep America Beautiful. Now that's a beautiful thing.
KEEP CINCINNATI BEAUTIFUL is looking for volunteers. Call 513-352-4380 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.