The Citizens Handbook
Block Cleanups

Fed up with the mattresses rotting in the alley? Tired of litter on your street? Why not organize a block cleanup? A cleanup can get rid of the mess and prevent it from reoccurring by making residents more conscious of the appearance of their block. Just as important, a cleanup can provide an opportunity for everyone on a block to get to know one another. In many small towns, one-day neighbourhood cleanups involving adults, kids, and a variety of civic officials have become a recognized way of building community and instilling pride in place.

Cleanups can range from a simple litter pick-up, to an operation requiring more planning. One recent block cleanup in Vancouver began with a few residents calling two quick meetings to decide on a date and plan of attack. After distributing fliers to the neighbours, they contacted the city. Because group members were willing to do the work themselves, the city provided a truck and two men for loading. On cleanup day, residents not only collected the debris that filled their alley, but went door-to-door collecting large items such as old mattresses, water heaters and other junk. They also helped load the city truck.

Cleaning up your block can extend to graffiti removal, weeding, fence-painting, and hedge-trimming. It can also extend to helping those on your block who lack the strength or resources to maintain their own property.

For more information call your city's sanitation department.

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The Troublemaker's Teaparty is a print version of The Citizen's Handbook published in 2003. It contains all of The Handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots rot, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from bookstores, Amazon or New Society Publishers.