Vacant lots can be an eyesore. They easily get overgrown or end up as a garbage pile. These spaces tend to make residents feel less safe as they invite unseemly attention from a less than moral crowd. There is something you can do though! Taking an active roll in your community will not only help you feel better, but it will make your neighborhood nicer.
Cleaner Space Brings Safety
In Philadelphia, a study was done on 201 vacant properties after they had been cleaned up and replanted with green life. According to an article in Plan Philly, there was a significant drop in the crime rates (23% reduction in gun-related violence). In Flint, Michigan a similar trend emerged, according to Science Daily. After a decline in the auto industry, a massive loss of population, and a dramatic increase in poverty, crimes rates went up. After community clean up efforts took hold, the 2017 study showed a decrease in violent crimes and break-ins. In Chicago, Elsa Anderson started studying the ecology of vacant lots and discovered there are quite a few benefits to having maintained green space including a variety of plant life, insects, and other wildlife.
Where to Start
It seems like an overwhelming task to take on, but it doesn’t have to be. In Flint, an organization called Clean and Green maintains all properties owned by the Genesee County Land Bank. In Philadelphia, there is Clean PHL which helps residents take part and understand their Zero Waste and litter vision. Organizations like this are everywhere, and they are always looking for volunteers. Organizations like Keep America Beautiful have a desire to get more people involved in their local communities, and they could be a good place to start. You can also contact your local neighborhood association or the local Parks and Recreations department.
Why Get Involved?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not,” — Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.
Your neighborhood will feel safer, it will be safer, and it will be something you can be proud of. Volunteering for a community beautification project or organization will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, but it will also look good on your resume. Someone has to step in and step up to help, why can’t that someone be you?