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Planning a Community Clean-up

A well organized community clean up can be fun. In addition to improving the appearance of a neighborhood, a community cleanup can be a great opportunity to get to know other residents. Through the Neighborhood Initiatives and Environmental Services office, five large dumpsters are allocated to each neighborhood on a yearly basis. How Neighborhoods use these dumpsters is up to each Association. The following are some ideas that you might want to consider.

  1. Location! Location! Location!
    • Take a look at your neighborhood and target an area that has the greatest need or where a cleanup might have the greatest impact. If there are several areas, prioritize them.
    • Define the boundaries of a target cleanup area and plan on allocating dumpsters there.
    • Identify problem owners in the area and try to enlist their help
  2. A cleanup can be a social event too:
    • Enroll volunteers from the Neighborhood Association as well as local Parent Teacher Organizations, non-profit organizations, or churches.
    • Be sure to have a game plan to encourage participation. Define tasks so that people have a "mission". (If people aren't clear on what they are doing, they may not do anything.)
    • At the end of the cleanup, have some kind of concluding event. Consider a hot dog lunch, ice cream social, or a potluck. Or maybe just a fun "ceremony".
    • Take before/during/after pictures and post them online for volunteers to see.
    • Give awards or prizes - maybe for the most things carried, the funniest item thrown into the dumpster, or anything else you can think of. One Association provides door prizes as an incentive for kids. Each time they turn in a bag of trash, they get a raffle ticket. At the end of the cleanup, prizes are raffled off and they feast on food or snacks.
  3. Scheduling:
    • A cleanup can be a onetime event or an activity that continues, possibly moving from one location to another. If you have defined several priority targets, you may want to use one or two dumpsters in one area and schedule other cleanups for different areas.
    • Typically Neighborhood Cleanup events are held on Saturday mornings, primarily because of the dumpster availability (the free ones from Neighborhood Initiatives). Early notification to residents in targeted areas is imperative. They need time prepare.
    • Consider a dual dumpster approach, one on Saturday for residents and a clean-up crew followed by one on Monday morning or the next Saturday for the "left overs".
  4. Set realistic goals!
    •  Success is important. Make sure that the area you are cleaning up is "doable" with the volunteers you have. Scale your effort down if fewer people turn out than expected.
  5. Once clean, make sure it stays that way!
    • Develop a strategy to ensure that the area stays clean. Get a commitment from the local property owners and set up a Neighborhood Association committee that is responsible for follow-up in that targeted area.
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