Friday, July 24, 2009

ICP's Day of Service: Marvin Gaye Park

Yesterday, ICP’s staff took the day off to lend a hand in our local DC community and experience the benefits of service first hand. Instead of coming into the office we all headed over to Marvin Gaye Park in Northeastern DC.

Until recently, Marvin Gaye Park was unfinished and largely forgotten. In 1972, the park was transferred from the National Park Service to the District of Columbia. In 1973, the Northeast Boundary Association developed a plan to transform the park into a “multi-purpose community park and learning center” including a bike trail linked into the Fort Circle trail system.

The park is now well on its way to becoming a beautiful green escape in the midst of a neighborhood which reported a 25% poverty rate (including 37% of children) in 2000 and that, according to Marvin Gaye Park’s volunteer coordinator Brian, lacks even a nearby grocery store. He sees the park as a community-based solution to improving the neighborhood. The park seeks to promote a healthy environment and healthy lifestyles by offering services ranging from African dance lessons, to a farmers market, to movie nights in the park. The park boasts a long running trail, with fitness equipment along the way, and a playground is currently under construction.

We spent the day wrapping “Ooze Tubes” around young trees, ensuring a constant source of water for the trees during DC’s current dry spell, placing mulch around older trees to help keep nutrients and moisture flowing to the roots, and cleaning up a kitchen that will become a café to serve food made from produce grown locally at the park’s farmers market.

In addition to one-day volunteers like us, the park also hosts youth volunteers from two of the district’s Summer Youth Employment Programs: The Mayor’s Green Summer Job Corps (currently profiled as our Green Youth Service Program of the Month) and the Mayor’s Conservation Corps . Watching these young people plant trees, whack weeds and pick up trash out of the river through a government-sponsored summer of service and job training program really put the work we do at ICP into context.

We had a great day being outside, doing our best to help the environment and the community, and watching young people at work. We are already planning our next day of service, but in the mean time, we are back to the office, working to support the development of innovative youth civic engagement policies and programs worldwide. To learn more about what we do each day, please visit our website.

POSTED BY: Melea Atkins

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