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Improving Communities: All You Need is Good Will And A Lawnmower

If you are a gardener and want to give your community a boost, look beyond just keeping your own lawn and garden in great shape. Folks in communities all across the United States have started up their riding mowers and trimmers to improve the appearance of their community.

Flickr photo by Dave Bonta

Upper East Side

Anthony Pisciotta, a devout Catholic from the Upper East Side of New York, has put in countless hours revitalizing the Shaare Zedek cemetery. The Jewish cemetery was quite run down and neglected. While the congregation and other parties argued over who was responsible for its decline, Mr. Pisciotta began to spend a weekend or two righting toppled headstones, pulling weeds, cleaning debris and mowing whatever grass is there. He is a worker for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and spends one or two weekends a month cleaning up the cemetery.

Pisciotta, dubbed “the Gentle Gentile” by, is not paid for the work that he feels is needed to show respect to the deceased. Commitment to community runs deep in his family as his two kids often join him on cleanup days.According to Pisciotti, he does it because “when he heard about it he felt he had to help.”

Detroit’s Mower Gang

But he is not alone. The Detroit Mower Gang is helping the kids of Detroit continue to enjoy parks and playgrounds. Tom Nardone organized the group, which meets on Wednesday each week during spring, summer and fall in order to mow the grass in the parks, playgrounds and ball fields that are neglected due to budget cuts to the Detroit Parks Department. These volunteers have fun doing the work and always warmly welcome new members. When asked for a description of the group a member is apt to say they are one part biker rally and one part cleanup crew.

This group has advanced from just tending lawns to also repairing broken playground equipment. Members are always welcome to join and if one does not own a riding mower, the group lends them one. Areas cleaned and maintained by the Detroit Mower Gang have been revived and are often host to community and even national events. Though many think this city is on the way out the Detroit Mower Gang is not among them.

You Can Help, Too

If your community is like most, budget cuts have likely cut into the maintenance of city owned parks and playgrounds. Stories like these are inspiring and proof that a single person or a group can make a difference by giving their time to their community. They see opportunity where others see roadblocks. They see the way to help others where others see blight. It does not take much time nor extensive equipment. A day a week, a lawnmower and a Husqvarna trimmer along with a commitment is all that is needed to get you started on showing your community how faith in one another can overcome community.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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