A clean public park naturally draws people to want to spend some time in it. It reflects well on the neighborhood and community surrounding it. Even more powerful is the sense of ownership and togetherness a community has when there’s a park they all feel responsible for. For this to happen, the park has to be well maintained at all times. How can you maintain the cleanliness of your park? Is it just the local authorities’ responsibility or do you have a role to play too?
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While it’s true the authorities are mandated to take care of parks and other public spaces, ultimately, the local community needs to be involved in this too, as they are the ones directly impacted by the park. The authorities can only do so much, and even when they try, they may not maintain the park to the standards you desire as a community or individual.
The easiest, fastest and expense-free way to give your park a facelift is by collecting litter. Come up with litter-collecting days and assign a group to do it on each appointed day. You can do this as a family or get the neighbors involved. The more, the merrier. Most people respond well to neighborhood clean-up exercises. You just have to make it a routine thing. Soon, they’ll get the hang of it and chip in when it’s their turn. Not everybody will want to do this though, so be ready for a few “not interested” responses.
Get the school and business community involved as well. For teachers, park cleanup days are a great way to reinforce values in students and an opportunity to lead by example in front of their charges. Businesses too love to associate with the local community. For them, it’s a chance to connect with the locals and create a good impression. Most will be happy to donate benches or litter bins. Branded or not, your park will look a lot better with the extra facilities.
You can create a neighborhood green community for residents who want to be actively involved in maintaining the park. Come up with a schedule that allows you – in addition to picking up litter around the park – to trim hedges and bushes, prune and shape the flowers, and clear walkways and pathways.
Things, like cleaning the pool, repainting the park, repairing water fountains, repairing/replacing benches, and planting trees, may need collaboration with or at least clearance from the authorities. As long as you inform them of your intentions, the authorities will be happy to support your efforts in transforming the park.
Above all, make it a personal mission to remind the community the importance of keeping the park clean. Print notices and fun conservation messages and facts and pin/erect them strategically around the park. Put up polite messages encouraging park visitors to drop litter in the bins. When outsiders visit the park and find it clean, they’ll probably leave it just as clean.
There are a few who will still litter the ground anyway, even with a bin and a ‘don’t litter’ sign right next to them. For these few, you’ll have to tirelessly clean after them until they get it, which may never happen. Stay consistent in your cleanup efforts, however, and remember it’s not about them but the park and the neighborhood.