Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been proud of Richmond Monday. Mother Nature would have been thrilled, too, as more than 400 people strolled several blocks of the Richmond Greenway and watched hundreds of volunteers plant seeds of hope and food.
Under a warm winter sun folks young and old congregated near the community garden portion of the trail and celebrated the city’s 6th Annual Martin Luther King National Day of Service event. Organized by Urban Tilth, the gathering allowed people to celebrate the life of the civil rights leader with guest speakers and live music, while shoveling, raking and watering the earth.
Those who weren’t into dirt and farm-like activities helped aerosol artists paint a two-block mural, built one-of-a-kind flower and vegetable gardens with super-sized tree trunks, or had their ten-speeds checked out by bicycle doctors. Children painted flowerpots and molded art out of clay.
Urban Tilth Executive Director Doria Robinson said there were more than 17 volunteer projects and 23 organizations that helped sponsor the outdoor activities. Volunteering on King’s federal holiday helped transform the former dumping ground into what it is today, she said.
“When I was growing up all we did was march from here to there and do a lot of remembering of what happened in the past,” Robinson said about her childhood Martin Luther King days. “This event takes that and transforms the understanding of what you should be doing to honor someone that did so much for you. We should be actively involved in the change we want to see. We can’t wait for someone else to do it for us.”
Kaiser Permanente employee Vickie White, of Pleasanton, said when she was a little girl she used to walk the now submerged railroad tracks to get to school everyday. A graduate of Washington Elementary School in Point Richmond, she said to see the former industrial zone transformed into a community garden was “awesome.” “I texted all my family and took pictures,” she said about the new-look Greenway. “So when they come home we’ll take walks to remember what it was and what it is. So that’s a good thing.”
For Richmond resident Alex Knox, coming out on his day off to help beautify the Greenway was a no-brainer. “I wanted to be with everyone else and all the other people I know in Richmond,” he said as he watered an elevated garden of red and green lettuce, and cilantro. “The Greenway is one of my favorite parts in Richmond, and I love to see it thrive. I like seeing it active and work going into it.”