Are YOU interested in creating a pocket park, community garden or greenspace in your neighborhood? The following steps can help your neighborhood get started in creating a beautiful oasis of green for all to enjoy!
1. Secure the community’s commitment. One person cannot do this alone! The more inclusive the decision-making, the more successful your park or garden will be. Start talking to as many neighbors as possible and secure them to help you throughout the process.
Think about those in your neighborhood. Is there someone who is an expert gardener, someone who knows what’s going on every block or someone that can let you use their spigot for water? Seek these people out and get them involved. Remember this is a long-term commitment!
2. Convene a steering committee. Just as you cannot do it alone, you also need leadership for your project. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create a committee with divided responsibilities in terms of planning for and working on the project. The steering committee will need a chair/leader who has the ability to facilitate, network and be diplomatic and decisive.
3. Choose a site. Think about how you would like to use the site. What kinds of improvements do you need to make to achieve your goal? Keep in mind how much your neighborhood can realistically take on in terms of the creation and maintenance of your plan and make sure the space suits your expectations.
Determine the ownership of the current site and how to get permission for use of the space. If you are unsure of who owns the land and how to get permission for your use, you can work with your Township Assessor to determine this information.
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4. Plan. Determine a site plan either as a neighborhood or with the help of a landscape architect. Also begin to strategize how the landscaping will be installed, how it will be funded, and how your neighborhood will maintain it in the long run.
5. Identify and secure potential partners. What other partners besides KIB can help you with your project? These partners should be local business, churches and other organizations as well as various funding and project partners available in the city. These partners can provide funds, expertise, materials or help to steer you where you can get what you need. Identify the roles of each partner and secure a written understanding if possible.
6. Secure long-term and short-term funding. Begin to look at various resources for funding in the form of grants, in-kind materials and money from businesses. You may think about corporate sponsorship if that interests you. Also, be sure to be thinking long-term with funding. You should have some kind of account to save money for maintenance or repairs that could come up even years into the future as well as to cover probable liability insurance coverage.
7. Schedule work days in advance. Assign a project manager and plan out what activities need to occur in what order. Can everything be done in one day, or will it take multiple work days? There are advantages to both. With multiple work days, people who cannot make one day can volunteer on another. With one big day, you can build excitement for both volunteer recruiting and for fundraising.
8. Plan a big work day/dedication/celebration event. This is a very important part of the process to the neighborhood and to the partners. This is a chance to possibly garner some outside (media?) attention, as well as involve as many people as possible. Be sure to have the kids in the neighborhood out working on that day! They’ll be much more likely to protect and take pride in their park or garden in the future.
9. Implement maintenance plan. This is a never-ending job. Before any plants go in the ground, the neighborhood should agree to a maintenance plan and put it on paper. This could be anything from establishing a weekly mowing or weeding schedule divided up among the neighbors, to continually raising money to pay local teenagers to work in the park, to coming up with an endowment capable of paying professional landscapers.
10. Pursue consistent engagement and on-going communication with community and partners. Just as maintenance is a never-ending job, so is everything else involved. On-going communication with the neighborhood especially should keep them interested and involved in your project. Also, you will want to continue thinking of innovative possibilities and partnerships to fundraise as the community’s needs and desires for the greenspace change over the years.
While all of this may sound like a lot of work, many communities in Indianapolis have been very successful at implementing beautiful community-built and maintained greenspaces in their neighborhoods.
For more information, please contact:
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