Patricia Kane didn’t need modern technology to organize her neighbors: She planted a sign advertising a neighborhood cleanup to restore the Quinnipiac River’s weed-ridden waterfront, and they showed up ready to work.
During the golden hours of a beautiful Wednesday evening, the group uprooted the weed-infested and storm-eroded exterior of the Clifton Street boat launch site off Quinnipiac Avenue. They put in fresh mulch and flowers in hopes of creating a new gathering place at once was a harvesting site back in the neighborhood’s oystering days.
“People need access to nature…and places where they can gather,” reasoned fellow organizer Rose Bonito. Bonito said she hopes the spot will now serve as a place where “mothers can wheel a baby carriage and people can have a cookout on the weekend.” Her world-traveling neighbor en dubbed it the “Quinnipiac Riviera,” saying that it’s “one of the most beautiful spots she’s ever seen.”
State Rep. Al Paolillo Jr. dug his hands into the soil to pitch in, calling the Heights “a great community to live in.”
The success story behind Kane’s “signage” campaign speaks for itself — the neighbors are in tune with one another.
“It’s their energy that drives them to do more,” Paolillo said.
The Yale Forestry Urban Resource Initiative teamed up with the initiative, offering weeding and planting materials, volunteer labor, and mulch, to facilitate Wednesday’s clean-up.
A URI intern at the event, Ethan Ross (pictured), said the group undertakes 60 local environmental projects every year. Ross, an environmental studies major at Yale, said the efforts are aimed at environmental restoration, community building, and making green spaces around the city more accessible.
“Mental health and access to nature and green spaces are connected,” said Bonito when asked about her personal reasoning for coming out and lending a hand on Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, neighbors were joking around and catching up, sharing water and snacks, holding open bags for others to toss weeds in.
The idea being that in coming months the Quinnipiac Riviera can become a breeding ground for friendships and outdoor activity.