Sidewalks Get “Street Smart”

(Abigail Roth sent in this write-up about a community project she and other volunteers undertook in West Rock and in the Hill this weekend. Chris Randall sent in the write-up following it about an Americorps community garden in Newhallville.)

The sidewalks near Yale-New Haven Hospital and near Katherine Brennan and Clarence Rogers schools were transformed on Saturday, May 14th.  Kids from Solar Youth, Inc., Yale alumni and staff participating in the Yale Day of Service, Yale-New Haven Hospital employees, and city employees together painted the city’s “Street Smarts” logo and a community-created elm leaf design on area sidewalks.  About 30 adults and children helped with the project.

When this project first took place in 2009, a large, colorful elm leaf mural was painted directly on the street at the intersection of Cedar and York streets.  The idea came from a graduate of Yale Medical School, Erica Mintzer ’09.  She was one of many medical students who dedicated themselves to improving traffic safety in New Haven after their fellow student, Mila Rainof MED ’08, died after being struck by a car while jogging near the Medical School.  The mural was intended to slow motorists down, beautify the public space, and make people feel more connected to the space.  Yale-New Haven Hospital and the City of New Haven were excited about the project and greatly supported its implementation.  The Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group, as well as members of the New Haven community, worked together to create the elm leaf design.

Because the elm leaf mural unfortunately lasted only for a few days in 2009, because of its location on a heavily-trafficked road, in 2010 it was decided to instead paint smaller stencil designs on the sidewalk, for longevity.  The elm leaf design was painted in some areas of sidewalk and, at curb cuts leading to intersections, the city’s Street Smarts logo was painted – reminding pedestrians to use care crossing the street.  Kids from the Solar Youth organization read about the project in 2010 and expressed an interest in painting stencils. 

Therefore this year, six kids from Solar Youth joined with Yale alumni and staff participating in the AYA Day of Service, and employees of YNHH and the city.  On Saturday morning, the group repainted the faded stencils near the hospital, as well as painting the wooden containers surrounding trash receptacles in Hunter Plaza at the corner of York and Cedar Streets.  In the early afternoon, the group took a bus to the Katherine Brennan and Clarence Rogers schools on Wilmot Road in West Rock, right near the Solar Youth Westville Manor headquarters.  Everyone worked on painting Street Smart stencils at several curb cuts near the schools – spreading the traffic safety message to the kids’ neighborhood.

This project, including the bus to transport kids and volunteers and the paint supplies, was made possible through a grant given by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, New Haven Neighborhood Leadership Grant Program.

While some of the stencils likely will fade after several months, one of the concepts behind intersection repair is that the community will come together each year to repaint the space, strengthening the community spirit.  The hope is that similar projects will be initiated by residents in neighborhoods throughout New Haven.  The current project definitely has increased the interaction between Yale University, Yale-New Haven Hospital, City of New Haven Officials and New Haven Community members – including children—all of whom have worked together to make this project happen. 

Americorps Garden Project In Newhallville

Chris Randall PhotoOn Saturday 20 volunteers from AmeriCorps Alumni of Connecticut and others from the community took part in a community garden service project on Ivy Street in Newhallville. The Ivy Street Community Garden, located on the corner of Ivy and Shelton, is one of six gardens in Newhallville that are run by the New Haven Land Trust and one of about 50 that the Land Trust have throughout the City. The Ivy Street Garden was weeded, cleaned, and cleared to make room for a brand new compost bin system that was also built and installed by the volunteers.

The undertaking in Ivy Street was part of AmeriCorps Week (May 14-21), a national service week for all AmeriCorps members and alumni nationwide. AmeriCorps Alum of Connecticut believes that the lifetime engagement of alumni is a transformational force for change in America’s communities.  The Connecticut Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums is comprised of alumni that represents and organizes the network of over three hundred registered AmeriCorps members and alums here in the state of Connecticut.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal stopped by to see the volunteers in action. After checking out the progress and chatting with people, he addressed the crowd. He talked about how important service is to individual growth and strengthening communities. He stated his support for AmeriCorps and how necessary it is to keep funding the program because of the many societal benefits it brings. Sen. Blumenthal then signed a pledge form to “expand voluntary national service opportunities and promoting service as a solution for addressing the country’s most pressing problems”.

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posted by: joebrummer on May 16, 2011  12:55pm

GO Solar Youth!!!!

posted by: Claudia Herrera on May 16, 2011  11:32pm

Great job. I love to see this kind of positive thinking and good energy in action!!

Thank you.

posted by: Erica M on May 19, 2011  10:00pm

Great work everyone! Very happy to see this momentum continuing.