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9 Steps to Planning a Perfect Neighborhood Cleanup
Lifestyle

9 Steps to Planning a Perfect Neighborhood Cleanup

Want to make a difference in your neighborhood?

Organizing a cleanup doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Remember that amazing Fairmount neighborhood cleanup earlier in the Fall? Although the weather outside isn’t ideal to pick up trash, it’s the perfect time of year to brainstorm and organize a community or neighborhood effort.

We chatted with organizer Sam Holloschutz to find out his tips of organizing a successful cleanup. As he mentioned, “the cleanup is a chance for area residents to show their pride in their community by working together for the common good. Their efforts also have a citywide effect because the trash collected will not go into the sewers and rivers to pollute other areas.” 

Cleanup – Keys to Start Planning

philly spring cleanup day 2012 volunteers northern liberties
Green Philly’s Spring Cleanup Day 2012

 

Although no one wants to consider cleaning in the polar vortex of winter, it takes some planning – so getting together a spring cleanup can start soon. The Fall cleanup was the Fairmount Civic Association’s 4th neighborhood cleanup, and they’re planning to host another in the spring.

The brainstorming began in August (4 months out) with the outgoing committee head and Michelle Feldman (Keep Philadelphia Beautiful). They discussed volunteer contacts (local businesses, access to listserves, tree tenders, webmasters, etc.) and set deadlines (when to do the cleanup, when to request supplies from the city, and when to start putting up flyers). Overall, Holloschutz estimated it was 6-8 hours total in planning.

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful’s Community Cleanup Guide is an excellent resource to host your own cleanup, too!

Here’s 9 Steps to a Perfect Neighborhood Cleanup:

@beautifulphl board member Alix Howard cleaning #Fairmount

A photo posted by Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (@beautifulphl) on

1. Pick a date and commit to it mentally. You can change the date if necessary, but it’s great to have your eye on the prize.

2. Choose a few allies to help you. Contact local organizations like Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, neighbors, friends, your local civic association and local businesses. As Keep Philadelphia Beautiful director Michelle Feldman shares, “My one major tip would be to get supplies from the Managing Director’s Office through the Community Life Improvement Program. They’ll lend rakes, brooms, etc, AND coordinate trash pickup with Streets!”

3. Start spreading the word. Start telling neighbors and friends about the cleanup a few months in advance– you don’t have to say the exact date yet. Start asking for volunteers, help spreading the word and any additional resources. Local organizations like PowerCorps PHL can help find volunteers, too. Sam used Eventbrite to keep tabs on volunteers and even included a question of how people found out (to keep on reaching out through those methods.)

4. Create advertising materials. Design a flyer (and poster) for local businesses & community centers and information for an e-blast.

5. Find sponsors. Visit local businesses close to the cleanup with information on hand (and a flyer with information). Finding food/drink and an incentive for volunteers are all awesome perks.

6. Request supplies from Managing Director’s Office through the Community Life Improvement Program. As Michelle Feldman from Keep Philadelphia recommends, “They’ll lend rakes, brooms, etc, AND coordinate trash pickup with Streets!” Try to request supplies about 1.5 months in advance and request a few extra supplies to ensure everyone can give a helping hand. Estimate about 20 brooms, 20 rakes, supply gloves and 150 paper bags for 50 volunteers (but adjust for seasonality).

  Getting ready for one of the last cleanups of the season in #Kensington #Fishtown! #keepphillybeautiful   A photo posted by Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (@beautifulphl) on

7. Distribute advertising materials. Request an e-blasts with your local neighborhood association and local online pubs to help find additional volunteers. Also, walk around your neighborhood with flyers and posters. Good ol’ traditional methods work well in neighborhood settings. Sam mentioned this was his favorite part since Fairmount is a great neighborhood to walk around for a few hours.

8. Send out a reminder email. One week in advance, send emails to any community partners and volunteers to remind them of tasks and your meetup spot for the upcoming event. Include what supplies will be available (and if people have to bring anything of their own). Also, make sure to scope out details (and share) the questions people will be asking – where restrooms are, what refreshments will be on site, the start and end time of the cleanup, and which areas are within your ‘goal’ area.

9. Day of Event: Bring your A-game and get ready for a kickass event! Have volunteer sign-in sheets including what equipment they are using to track returns. (The city can charge for equipment not returned.)

Bonus tips:

  • Make sure to get the ball rolling 1-2 months in advance – and avoid burnout. The majority of the work will happen 2-3 weeks before the event.
  • Contact local news orgs. Holloschutz contacted local news station and NBC 10 ran a nice clip of the cleanup effort!
  • Spend time with volunteers afterwards. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know your neighbors, and even try to find more people involved in your community groups. ‘

Awesome volunteers!!

A photo posted by Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (@beautifulphl) on

Holloschutz also had a wider-goal in mind when planning the local cleanup:

“While I love Fairmount, I did this cleanup for the whole city. The cleanup is a chance for area residents to show their pride in their community by working together for the common good. Their efforts also have a citywide effect because the trash collected will not go into the sewers and rivers to pollute other areas.”

See? You can make an impact by starting with your own neighborhood.

Readers, what tips do you have from organizing cleanups?

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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