rusty spoke award recipients post for photo

Greening Richmond Together: Groundwork’s second annual awards event

on November 25, 2014

One of the first projects of Groundwork Richmond was planting passionflowers along Carlson Blvd, “as a quick beautifier, right next to Councilman Corky Booze’s junk yard” Nancy Baer said as she broke into laughter.

Groundwork Richmond had its second annual event on Saturday recognizing those who have dedicated their time and supported their projects. The free event included family activities and music performances, and VIP tickets were sold to raise funds for the program.

Groundwork Richmond was founded four years ago. Community members, like Pedro Lespier the executive director of Straight Talk on Prison (STOP), took it upon themselves to make sure the passionflowers planted along Carlson Blvd thrived.

Unfortunately because of the drought the passionflower vines covering the chain link fences were dying. Lespier lives close by and he grabs a bucket of water to water the vines a few times a week.

It is that commitment and dedication that earned Lespier and four others recognition from Groundwork Richmond.

Richmond Mayor Gayle Mclaughlin often referred to as the ”green mayor,” was awarded the Rusty Spike award.

“I’m honored to have the spike award,” Mclaughlin said.

As the awards were handed out, Baer said, “the spike represents the past but the award represents the future.”

The rusty spike award is a wooden plaque with a piece of an old railroad.

The plaque reads, “Dedicated to those whose vision, leadership, and hard work help improve and sustain Richmond’s outdoor environment.” On the plaque are the names of the five recipients of the 2014 award.

Executive Director Sarah Calderon hopes that Groundwork Richmond will continue to grow. The “green team” now consists of about 50 youth who volunteer in greening Richmond together. She hopes to recruit 200 green team volunteers in the next five years.

All ages are welcome to volunteer, but Groundwork Richmond focuses on teenagers because they like to educate the future adults of Richmond in restoring the environment. Groundwork Richmond also encourages the teenagers to thrive in school and apply for college. They even offer stipends whenever funds are available.

Groundwork Richmond has planted more than 150 trees since last year.

“Our goal is to plant 10,000 trees, we’re not even at 1,000 yet,” Baer said.

A YouTube video on Groundwork Richmond’s home page states, “the goal is to add enough city street trees to assist with the problems of air pollution and storm water run off in addition more trees add beauty to our streets and even increase property value.”

Groundwork Richmond in one of 20 Groundwork organizations around the country. Groundwork USA’s websites states their mission as, “a national organization with local roots, engaging local businesses, residents and government officials to revitalize neighborhoods and transform community liabilities into community assets.”

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