Peachy the Magazine June July 2014 - Page 129

INSPIRE the CPC with a desire to reinvigorate their neighborhood park, which is being used more and more by younger families with small children who move into the area. The park included a playground that had become outdated, as well as plantings that had been neglected. The neighborhood worked with the CPC to draft and refine design ideas, and worked with the city of Charleston to identify work and budget assignments. Collectively, the neighbors then raised the money to pay for the project. They gathered to build a beautiful shade structure, in addition to installing new playground equipment. The results are stunning. “The feedback that we have had from the neighborhood has been terrific,” said Martin. “Neighbors have commented on how they never knew how many kids lived in the neighborhood. For years, parents had been driving their children to other parks 10 to 15 minutes away, but now parents and children walk to and use their neighborhood park.” The investment, both financial and through sweat equity, also pays dividends. “Volunteering for a neighborhood project is a rewarding experience for many,” said Lesesne. “Volunteers can see their own handiwork in a park that they use, they recognize their work and it creates a sense of ownership.” Martin agrees and sees that ownership come alive in many of the parks and projects that he has worked on in the past six years. Allan Park is one that stands out. Located behind Hampton Park, the city’s largest, Allan Park is a small, more intimate park, in a mostly older African American community. “At the start of the project neighbors talked about how years ago they used to use the park, and the project team was looking at a park that was mostly dirt, beautiful but unmaintained trees and a huge white fountain. No one was using the park,” said Martin. “After the renovation of the park, neighbors are in the park once again—it has become a meeting place, concerts are held there, and neighbors prefer their small park to the larger Hampton Park, which is just a block away. Neighbors feel comfortable using their park again and it is amazing to see this positive effect in the community.” COMMUNITY GARDENING The beautification of Charleston’s parks is the core of the Conservancy’s work, but expanding the knowledge, awareness and engagement of the community JUNE JULY 2014 127