By Helen Dauka
Starting in January, Keep Akron Beautiful began meeting with Zac Lytle and Jason Roberts to discuss how KAB would be able to be part of the excitement. Early on, it was identified the Better Block team would need to secure 35 trees and 50 shrubs for the project. Because Better Block is an organization based out of Texas that travels across the country helping different communities to organize their own Better Block events, KAB was able to help put Zac and Jason in contact with the right people! After meeting with the team, it was clear that these Texas natives had a sincere passion for incorporating the existing cultures within the community into the revitalization project. Zac and Jason shared they had met with several North Hill residents over dinner where they learned more about the Bhutanese cultures. This effort to incorporate culture could be seen throughout the weekend at different artist pop-up shops and markets.
While the Bhutanese culture was a predominant theme during the weekend, North Hill’s Italian culture was also highlighted through Bocce Ball tournaments hosted by the Carovillese Club and Jacqui’s husband, Bruno, who is the Club’s president.
In addition to supporting Better Block during initial planning meetings, Keep Akron Beautiful also provided the waste and recycling receptacles for the weekend. KAB worked with volunteers from Jo-Ann Fabrics to transform a vacant lot into what would be a marketplace during the weekend. This included installing a new Adopt-A-Site that has remained after the conclusion of the event. As previously mentioned, KAB incorporated the Bhutanese culture into the flowerbed by planting marigolds, a flower that holds cultural significance to many residents in the North Hill community.
The day involved creating mulched beds encased by bales of hay that acted as pathways and seating for people to use during the event. In addition to creating this plaza area, the Jo-Ann Fabric team helped install beautiful marigolds in two different locations.
Here’s what KAB CEO Jacqui Flaherty-Ricchiuti had to say about the project:
Keep Akron Beautiful was so happy to be involved in this project, with so many wonderful community partners. As a North Hill resident, myself, it was great seeing the area transformed and so many people coming into North Hill, instead of just passing through. I look forward to creating this experience across town in other areas and was so thrilled to be able to provide assistance in bringing Better Block to life!
For more information on the street plans, pop-up shops or schedule of activities, please visit the Build a Better Block website.
Thank you to Jo-Ann Fabrics for not only volunteering, but for donating $500 to our agency! Thanks to this donation, KAB was able to supply additional flowers for the Build a Better Block weekend and for beautification across Akron!