Beautifying Beechmont, One Plot at a Time.
When we partner with Louisville communities, two things motivate and guide us: One is our daily mantra, “many hands make light work,” and the other is a deeply-felt conviction that resident-led projects are the best way for neighborhood change to be positive and lasting for everyone in the community. In practice and in theory, we see evidence of how important both of these things are. And we aren’t the only ones in Louisville building from these cornerstones of community action! Amy Talbott, a resident of the Beechmont neighborhood, has recognized an opportunity in her South End community, made a plan, and - together with many dedicated neighbors - sprung into action.
Amy’s work is centered on Beechmont’s iconic Woodlawn Ave, a mid century commercial district located in the heart of the community. While the block has recently received considerable attention, in part because of dedicated neighbors and local programs like Better Block Louisville and CNU, common issues like litter, weedy tree wells, and neglected flowerbeds regularly cause neighbors to shake their heads in dismay. Easy as it is to call out what’s broken, the harder part is doing good to fix it! As a frequent visitor on the block, Amy recognized the need for action. But to take action that would truly make a difference, she knew she needed the power of collective effort. So she organized a group called Beautify Woodlawn which gives power to Beechmont residents to act as stewards and improve their own community.
How it works: Beechmont neighbors can sign up to “Adopt a Plot,” a six-month commitment to look after a specific small section of Woodlawn Avenue. The adoptable plots are typically centered around a specific feature (e.g. a tree or lightpost) and extend about 10 feet in each direction around that feature. Taking an asset-based approach, the plots vary in the level of skill and time necessary to upkeep, which means every person who wants to - whatever their age and ability - has the opportunity to play their part in caring for their own piece of Woodlawn.
When asked about the goal of the project, Amy says she hopes the “Adopt a Plot” framework will help ease the daunting task of keeping the block looking clean and beautiful. She even took some time to share more details:
Q: What would it mean for your project to succeed?
A: Having a street that's free of litter and weeds, with little gardens scattered around. And having a large, enthusiastic base of volunteer caretakers for the space.
Q: What motivates you?
A: The short answer: Being able to walk down my street and have nice stuff to look at, basically. The long answer: Building on the good things that are already happening on Woodlawn Ave. We have some thriving businesses already there, and more that are opening. But there are also opportunities to attract new businesses, and new customers to those businesses. If people see a street that looks well cared for, they're more likely to want to come back.
Q: At what point did you realize the work had grown bigger than just an idea in your own head?
A: When volunteers showed up during the first weed pulling event I organized. I think there were five of us, myself included, and I would have been happy if just one other person showed up.
Q: How do you envision this project growing?
A: Right now, we're trying out a model where people adopt one plot on the street - a tree well, a lightpost, or some other landmark - and they commit to coming up there once a week for six months to pick up litter, pull weeds, water plants, or whatever [the] space requires. In six months, our core group of volunteers is going to decide whether or not we want to continue with this model. Ideally, we'll continue [so that] all 33 plots will be adopted and remain cared for; 12 of the plots are adopted at the moment.
Q: Describe a moment of joy you’ve experienced while working on this project?
A: When I was watering the flowers outside Sunergos and one of their customers told me how happy they were to see something planted there. I love it that people appreciate our work.
Already the project is making an impact...Once a dusty litter trap, Amy’s plot in front of Sunergos Coffee is now a flower-filled treat for the eyes!
If you’d like to adopt a plot on Woodlawn Avenue, contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org for info. If you’re curious about how you can start a similar program in your own neighborhood, you can reach out to our Engagement Team.