Updated: May 1
During Covid, most city processes and maintenance duties were put to a halt, including those that kept the streets of Los Angeles clean. Driving up and down our city, it was heartbreaking to see the collection of garbage and trash overfill into our streets. We can say it's the responsibility of the city, and it's out of our hands. People can say it's due to our unhoused population, or to businesses illegal dumping. Regardless of how we got here, our littered city had to be handled.
How do you feel when you walk into a stuffy room, full of clutter compared to an open, clean space? It seems as we don't naturally make many connections to our environment and our feelings, however it's hard to deny the collection of negative energy we see in trash. When we see such a large mess, it's easy to invite feelings of overwhelm, and as whatever we do won't make a difference. It makes its way into our attitudes and how we carry ourselves throughout the day. That's why studies like Feng Shui, which is the practice of harmonizing the relationship between us and our environment, still to this day has so much popularity.
Along with the fact that this trash is sore to the eye and spirit, it is not safe for our children, pets, elderly, neighbors both housed and unhoused to be around. Hazardous waste and biomedical risks lay at the bottom of our feet. Most importantly, we wanted to organize clean ups to bring different sorts of people together for a good cause, and to show that a little bit of love and TLC can do a lot for a space and our wellbeing.
Silverlake Clean Up
Our first clean up was along Oakwood Avenue in Silverlake the day after Thanksgiving, November 29. We got a crew of about 15 people to show up, and an entire field along the freeway was clear after 5 hours. At this location, 2 gallons of needles were found and safely discarded. We ended up clearing about 100 bags that day! Thank you to our volunteers Janna, Myles, Johanna, Anna, Destiny, Amairani, Kamila, Noe, Jessica, Rachel, Erin, Frank, Larissa, and Nick for being there with us that day! Thank you to those who donated financially, we were able to keep everyone hydrated and with healthy snacks!
Echo Park Clean Up
We followed up about a month and a half later on January 10th at Echo Park in a lot alongside the 101 Freeway North. The area was an abandoned encampment, which we were very hesitant to clear because the last thing we wanted to do, was throw away anybody's personal belongings. However, after the month of scouting, we never saw anyone at the lot. We got blessings from an unhoused neighbor to go ahead and clear the mess. Day of, he even helped and volunteered his time as well. This clean up had a great turn out of about 25 people, and we cleared about 125-150 trash bags in just under 3 hours! Thank you to our volunteers and those who donated that day!
Hollywood Clean Ups
Since tending to our garden bed, we've been focused on beautifying our East Hollywood community! As we progress and learn with time, we're finding great success in concentrating on the streets we ourselves live, drive, and walk daily. Like we mentioned in the garden bed blog, we first cleaned the left side of the tunnel that connected the neighborhoods on each side of the freeway. We then continued and restored the garden bed. Read more about that day, here!
Two weeks later on March 26, we returned and cleaned up the right side. A group of of us, (Anna, Amairani, Johanna, Noe, Chris, and Perla) cleared out a giant pile of bulk trash, and about 20 trash bags. It's so rewarding to now see a clean, open path passing the gardens along the bed, and along the tunnel to our neighborhood park!
On April 10th, we gathered a few blocks away at Marathon & Mariposa to clean up along the freeway. Thank you to our volunteers, Raquel, Johanna, Katie, Chris, Kamila, Pau, Amairani, Kerly, Johanna and Perla for the help! Together, we gathered a bulk trash pile and 15 bags of trash in a little under two hours.
Overall, we were very proud with the outcome of all cleanups thus far! The process has many moving parts, between prepping, scouting locations and submitting paperwork to the city. It's a blessing that the city is able to provide tools such as bags, masks, gloves, shovels, and rakes. Any monetary donations we received were used for water and refreshments, extra covid-19 precaution, safety glasses and sheilds, garden gloves, and additional first aid.
Thank you to everyone who has donated any funds or their time. It's always amazing getting together, meeting each other, and practicing gratitude and love for out city. It's always so beautiful and rewarding!