Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a beautification project at a low-income, high-density housing project in Toronto. An ambitious landscape architect sought out and recieved government grants for a large-scale landscaping project.
When speaking with the landscape design advisor, I found out that tenants were given the opportunity to recieve free supplies and assistance in exchange for their labour hours on their own front or back yard. Almost a third of the residents opted to participate, and there are quite a few plots that are flourishing. This aspect of the project has vastly improved the sense of community within the complex. Apparently tenants used to be nearly invisible; staying inside their own units. The opportunity to tend to their own gardens and appreciate the work of their neighbours have increased the presence of tenants in the outdoors.
Also, this beautification project used hundreds of local volunteers to do a massive cleaning, tilling, and planting job. Youths who were particularly interested in and dedicated to the landscaping aspect had the opportunity to apply for three full-time, well-paid summer positions. Three youths were hired and are now responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds.
It was inspiring.
The name of this post comes from an offer from one of the tenants. She wanted to know if I needed to use a washroom, and I gratefully accepted. She had at least 4 young children who welcomed me at the front door. I said hello and waved from outside and one ADORABLE little girl said ‘ooh MOM! she’s niiice!’ Of course this made me smile even more. As I came inside they were full of questions, starting with `Are you a teacher?’ I said that I wasn’t a teacher, I was a planter, and another little girl said ‘We already KNOW how to plant flowers…they need sun, water, and soil!’
This family thanked me numerous times for planting the flowers outside their unit, and offered us bottles of water.
I felt really good about working on this job.
How was your 9-5??